A virtual office address is an address that belongs to a company who have in place the appropriate processes and compliance measures that allow other companies to use it as though it were their own.
Providing businesses with a physical location to have their mail sent to (and processed) which helps you separate business and personal life, a virtual office address is a real street address used by businesses as either their official office address and/or for their general day-to-day business correspondence.
Broadly speaking there are 4 types of addresses a business owner or company may require:
Correspondence Address – this is usually the address given to suppliers and customers to which you receive mail.
Business Trading Address – typically the address which a company operates from (though this will not be the case when opting to use a virtual trading address). This is the address which is used on marketing materials, company stationery and online (on your website, social media channels and Google My Business page).
Registered Office Address – the address an incorporated business uses to register with HMRC and Companies House, this is where all important company paperwork will be sent. Legally this cannot be a PO box number alone (there must be a physical PO box service provider at that address that can accept mail on behalf of the company, you must supply Companies House with the full postal address, including the postcode.)
Directors’ Service Address – the official correspondence address of the director(s) of a company, specifically used for mail address to the director(s) rather than the limited company or LLP. All company directors are legally obligated to provide a service address, which will be of public record. It cannot be a PO Box number.
The simplest solution would be to use the same address to meet all your address needs, though there are several reasons why you may not do this, such as wishing to appear in multiple locations.
Whilst virtual addresses are especially popular amongst home-based businesses, there are suitable for use by all types of company structure – from sole traders and partnerships; to limited companies and LLPs or even PLCs often use virtual office addresses.
For those starting a business from home, a virtual office address is often the first step to getting established in a physical space. It allows them to reassure prospective clients that they are a serious, professional, operation and often gives them access to meeting rooms and other business services.
A larger company may choose to use a virtual address in a city other than where their head office is located, in order to have a presence in that city.
At the most basic level, a virtual address service includes:
It can also include:
Many virtual address providers also provide administrative and officing solutions, from telephone answering and diary management to coworking space and meeting room rental. The exact services will vary from location to location (and provider to provider) but it is always worth asking what other support they can offer you and your business.
If after reading this article, you’re wondering whether you should be using a virtual address, ask yourself the following questions: