There are definite frustrations that arise when running a virtual business from home. Privacy can be a big issue if you decide to register the business using a home address. Personal safety is another concern that often prompts people to isolate their home life from their business entity.
A virtual address is the smart, logical alternative. You rent a virtual office to receive business mail, and even have your calls handled by a virtual receptionist at the office you choose. It makes a lot of sense and it isn’t difficult to do, but there are certain caveats depending on the area you live and work in.
LLC address requirements
This information will apply to US. business registration rules, but most developed countries will be the same or very similar. LLC registration requires a physical address to be on file for legal mailing purposes. As mentioned already, a home address will satisfy your government, but it’s not the smartest idea to expose your home address to customers (not to mention competitors!)
A regular PO box is an option in some states and provinces around the world, but you’ll have to check with your local and Federal government business registration authority to make sure it’s allowed. However, a PO box is a bad idea in most cases, because it isn’t the best way to build legitimacy and trust with consumers. In general, a PO box at your local rural post office isn’t an option, as this isn’t classified a physical address.
A physical address is classified as such if it meets the following requirements:
- Your personal address or the address of one of your partners (Eg., this can suffice as a registered agent as long as it’s in the same state the business is registered in).
- A mailbox service that provides a verified street address and provides a PO box number that can be listed on LLC’s business address as a suite or unit number (Eg., USPS’s Street Addressing for PO Boxes, Mail Boxes Etc, UPS Store).
- A coworking space is a better option than either of the first two because it offers an official business address for LLC registration, which also adds a layer of professionalism to your business.
- A virtual office service that offers a street address, on-duty reception, and mail-forwarding service is an even better option due to being lower cost than a coworking space, and the ability to have important business mail forwarded to you.
The address of a registered agent that can accept important legal business documents is required for all options other than #1. If you or a partner are willing to accept legal mail at your home address, you can use a PO box, coworking space, or virtual office as your official business address for an LLC.
Assuming you’ve found this article because you want to register your LLC using a virtual address, here’s how to get started.
Tips to find a legitimate virtual office for LLC registration
There are a number of virtual office usa services operating online. Not all are ideal for registering and marketing a business. Some services are downright scams, but it’s getting easier and easier to sniff out the fakes:
- Only do business with services that have been around for 5 years or more, or which have an irrefutable reputation.
- Look for reviews — zero reviews means you need to keep looking.
- Verify the address is a real business address by performing a Google search.
- Look to see how many other businesses are registered to the same address — search the individual companies too, to make sure having your company associated with the same space won’t damage your brand.
- Ensure you’re provided a suite number in addition to a street address — this is most important if you want to rank in Google My Business Listings.
- For the same reason as above, you want to look for services that have on-site staff during business hours — one or two virtual receptionists will suffice to satisfy Google’s ranking requirements.
- If you require other services such as mail forwarding, reception or physical access to the office to meet with clients and perform work occasionally, make sure this service is offered.
How to get started registering your LLC
Head over to SBA.gov and learn all the steps and paperwork required to successfully register the business as an official entity with your local and Federal government, including the mighty IRS. If you’re located in a different country, a simple Google search can fill in all the blanks.
If you want to save yourself a lot of reading, frustration and potential legal issues, you’ll want to find a local business attorney or use an online registration service like Legal Zoom to do most of the footwork for you. Any type of business registration is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. As most experts will advise, it simply isn’t worth saving a few hundred dollars trying to do all the research and paperwork on your own.
Forming an LLC is a very rewarding venture. One that will take your business to the next level, while gaining other benefits such as reducing taxes and separating personal and business finances.