PO Boxes and Virtual Mailboxes are two great options to look at when you’re deciding on your company’s business or mailing address. Especially if you’re a company without a set physical office space, PO Boxes and Virtual Mailboxes are two different ways to create addresses and manage mail without actually signing another lease -- however, which one is a better choice for a company’s business address? And what is the difference between a virtual mailbox and a PO Box in the first place?
A traditional PO Box (Post Office Box) is a physical lockable box that you rent at your local Postal Office. These are managed by the USPS (United States Postal Service) and are those physical mailboxes that you see in the lobby of many postal offices. These are usually rented by the month or year and you can choose what size mailbox you would like. The actual address that you receive is usually formatted in a P.O Box #, City, State, and Zip Code format (i.e P.O Box 59, Los Angeles, CA 90024).
A virtual mailbox (or virtual address) is a service that uses a real street location to receive mail on behalf of the addressee. Virtual mailboxes will usually have, but aren’t limited to, a digitization process so you can view all your mail virtually (or online), forwarding services so the physical mail can be sent to you, and other mail and business management features depending on the virtual mailbox you sign up for. These addresses are formatted with a real street address that contains a Unit #, Suite, or PMB attached at the end (i.e 1234 Main Street #4000).
What are some of the key differences between a PO Box and Virtual Mailbox, and why are virtual mailboxes better for my business?
Although PO Boxes and Virtual mailboxes often get bundled together, the differences are huge. Especially when deciding which one would be best for a business address or a business mailing address, it’s important to note that the traditional PO Box comes with a number of limitations that should be considered. Some of these limitations / differences are listed below:
PO Boxes aren’t real street addresses -- unless you sign up for USPS’s Premium PO Box Real Street Addressing, PO Boxes aren’t real street addresses. Instead, they are written in the format P.O Box #, City, State, Zip Code. This may not be a huge deal for some, but because of this, PO Boxes can’t accept mail from other mail providers like FedEx, DHL, and UPS. Virtual mailboxes/ virtual addresses on the other hand, are real street addresses and consequently can.
Depending on your mailing needs, this is one of the largest differentiators that should be taken into account. Is it important for your business address to accept mail from all mailing providers? If so, having a real street address is a must.
PO Boxes can’t be used for different business registration needs -- Incorporating a company in the US requires a business address that is not a PO Box. Similarly, when registering to do business across different states, filing certain tax reports, or opening up a business bank account, a PO Box may not be accepted here either.
*Note: Although many banks will accept virtual addresses, some may not or will require additional information in order to verify your address
Virtual mailboxes digitize your mail -- Instead of having to go in person to pick up your mail on a periodic basis, virtual mailboxes let you access and take action on your mail digitally. This means you don’t need to worry about possible address changes in the future nor would you need to set aside time to visit the post office in person. This also means that all your business mail can get scanned, be accessible, and kept on record without anyone on your team ever needing to come into physical contact with it.
Virtual mailboxes trump typical PO Boxes when it comes to convenience, functionality, and business requirements.
Unless it’s extremely important for you to be in close proximity to your business address or you’d prefer to go in person to handle and pick up your mail on a routine basis, a virtual mailbox has all the needs a typical PO Box would fulfill and more.
Especially if you’re running a remote-first or distributed company, having a set business address that you know won’t change and being able to manage your mail from anywhere in the world has become the new standard in the world of remote business operations.
If you’re interested in chatting about what business address makes the most sense for you or you'd like to get your virtual address set up in less than 3 minutes, you can get started here.