Small Business Basics: How to Attain a Mailing Address for Your Home-Based Business

Katie Fleming

Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

Two post office boxes demonstrate one of the options you have for setting up a mailing address for your business

Do you need a separate mailing address for your business? Many small business owners say yes. That's because there are some clear disadvantages of using their home address for business mailings, marketing contact info, and official company filings. We'll dive into these and help you decide whether you want to sign up for a virtual or local mailing address for your business.

 

What are the disadvantages?

When you use your home address for business purposes, you can introduce some privacy concerns. Through simple Google searches or by reading the contact info in your email marketing pieces, customers and non-customers alike can identify where you live, and they can use that information to visit your home to make complaints, or worse, determine whether you have assets they could attain in a lawsuit.

There are also logistical issues in having mail delivered directly to your home. First, your personal mailbox may not be large enough to contain the volume of business mail you receive, and second, your business mail will be intermingled with your household mail, which could introduce other privacy concerns and opportunities for misplaced business correspondence, especially if you share your home with others.

Another disadvantage: Your business could appear to be less reputable or established when it uses a home address rather than a P.O. box or other commercial business address. If it’s important to you to convey professionalism, you may want to consider other options.

 

Should I sign up for a P.O. box instead?

Post office boxes are one possibility you should consider, but depending on your location and the volume of mail you send and receive, you may find other options that better suit your needs.

 

Physical mailboxes

Many small business owners opt for services that provide them with a physical mailbox they can visit to retrieve their mail. The options for this service include:

 

Post office box

Cost: Between $21 and $75 per six-month period for an extra-small box and between $109 and $625 per six-month period for an extra-large box. Other box sizes and terms may be available at your local post office.

 

Post office (P.O.) boxes are easy to attain online or at your local USPS facility. Most provide 24/7 access and options for holding oversized packages that won’t fit in your lockable mail compartment. Many also offer an assortment of P.O. box sizes to suit the volume of mail you receive.

 

Lots of business owners choose post office boxes over other options for the following reasons:

  • Because the distance to the post office from any residential address is usually minimal, P.O. boxes are often one of the most convenient options.
  • They also provide a greater level of security for your deliveries by keeping them in a safe location rather than parked on your doorstep.
  • Many post offices offer free smartphone alerts that will let you know when you have mail or packages. This service can help you avoid making unnecessary trips to the post office.
  • Finally, mail tends to arrive faster to P.O. boxes than residential addresses or other mail retrieval services.

 

The drawback is that P.O. boxes cannot receive mail from other shipping carriers. Packages from FedEx, UPS, DHL, and others must be sent to a physical mailing address.

 

A P.O. box may not be the best option if you act as the registered agent in your state. Registered agents must provide a physical mailing address, not a P.O. box.

 

UPS Store box

Cost: Varies by store

 

The UPS Store provides a similar service with a few added benefits. The most important is that the store mailbox provides you with a physical mailing address for your business rather than a box number. Because of this, DHL, FedEx, USPS, and other shipping carriers can leave your deliveries in a single, secure location. And, for business owners acting as their own registered agents, this important differentiator can help you to meet the physical address requirement and protect your privacy.

 

Many UPS Stores offer round-the-clock access to their boxes. They also provide texts upon the arrival of packages, a call-in mail check service, and access to outbound packaging experts.

 

For an additional fee, you may opt into their mail forwarding service. Through this program, you can choose to have your mail forwarded directly to your home or another location, which can help you avoid the inconvenience of traveling to your local UPS Store.

 

To sign up, you must visit your local store and complete the UPS Store mailbox service agreement.

 

 

PostNet

Cost: Varies by store

 

PostNet is another service that provides small business owners with private physical mailboxes.

 

The benefits, which include a physical mailing address, phone-ahead service, and the ability to collect packages from an assortment of shipping carriers, rival those of the UPS Store. Many locations also offer 24/7 access to their bay of private mailboxes.

 

One feature business owners love is that PostNet provides a personal digital image for every item it receives. Through their virtual mailbox app, you can view pictures of each piece of mail that's been delivered to your box, opt to discard items, and have the rest delivered directly to you.

 

To sign up, visit your local PostNet location.

 

Other options

Several other businesses provide mailboxes with physical addresses. Here are a few popular options:

 

The services they offer are nearly identical, so if you opt for a physical mailbox location, you should consider the monthly rate, hours of operation, the proximity of each site to your home or primary place of business, and the security practices in place at each site.

 

Virtual mailboxes

Another option to consider is digital mailbox services. These services allow you to rent a virtual mailing address that receives your business mail and packages and forwards them to your home address or another mail facility. Providers offering this service include:

Anytime Mailbox

Cost: Starts at $6.50/month

 

Anytime Mailbox is a service that receives mail and packages on your behalf and sends photos of them by email, app alerts, or text message. You can choose to have Anytime Mailbox open and scan your mail, forward it, shred it, or recycle it, depending on your preferences.

 

This service partners with nearly 1,000 mailbox service locations that are concentrated in larger cities. You can select any one of these locations to serve as the mailing address for your business.

 

To get started, visit anytimemailbox.com.

iPostal1

Cost: Starts at $9.99/month

 

iPostal 1 offers a virtual mailing address service that provides you with a snapshot of the business mail and packages you receive, and like Anytime Mailbox, it gives you the option to forward, scan, recycle, or shred each piece. It also offers an automated check deposit service, which you may choose to opt into.

 

This service partners with 1,000 mailbox service locations, any one of which can serve as the physical mailing address for your business. Many sites are retail pack-and-ship stores or executive business centers that are in easy-to-access locations.

 

To sign up for this service, visit iPostal1.com.

Earth Class Mail

Cost: $19/month

 

Earth Class Mail is a similar solution, but it offers integration with software you may already be using. In its current iteration, you may send pdf images of your mail to bill.com, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, QuickBooks, and Xero. This solution has a smaller number of locations to choose from, but if integration is important, this may be a good choice for your business.

 

To get started, visit www.earthclassmail.com.

Traveling Mailbox

Cost: Starts at $15/month

 

Traveling Mailbox is another virtual mailing address option with business mail scanning, forwarding, and integration services. This solution also offers free mail shredding and includes an unlimited number of mailbox recipients. The standard service plan can accommodate most small businesses, but the service also offers a custom package that can be tailored to the specific needs of your business.

 

To sign up, visit travelingmailbox.com.

 

Before signing up for any virtual mailing address service for your business, you may want to consider the following questions:

  • Will this service forward mail to my home or another convenient location?
  • What is the cost of mail forwarding?
  • Are there limits on the amount of mail I can receive, and are there penalties for going over that amount?
  • If the mail is retrievable at a mail service site, what are that location’s hours, and is that location secure?
  • Are there fees for services, including package scans, recycling, and shredding?

 

Are there other options?

Rather than setting up a mailing address for your business, you might consider setting up shop at a new physical location. You could rent a coworking space or buy or lease an office space, but those options are quite costly. However, if you are ready to move your business to a new site, we can walk you through the steps you’ll need to take. Read the following guides to get started:

Location Can Be the Make-or-Break Factor for Your Business’s Success

Lease or Buy: How to Make the Right Call for Your Small Business

Small Business Financing 101: How Commercial Real Estate Loans Can Help You With Your #LocationGoals

 

What’s next?

Starting a business is a complicated process, but we have articles and advice that can help you with every action you need to take. Log into your owner’s portal for free, personalized guidance that will help you make your venture a success.

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