When you start a business and open a physical location, your business address is often apparent. But what about when you don’t have a physical office or storefront? What should your primary business address be in that case? Here’s a closer look at all you need to know. We’ll be talking about what business addresses are exactly, why you need one, and five ways you can get one — if you don’t have a set physical location.
Table of contents
- What is a business address?
- Why do you need a business address?
- Do sole proprietors need business addresses?
- Should you use your home address as your business address?
- 5 alternatives to using your home address as your physical business address
- Can I use the address of my registered agent as my business address?
- Further reading for new business owners
What is a business address?
A business address appoints a company’s primary place of business. While meant to be the location where a business’s operations are performed, that’s not always the case. For example, a dog walker may not have a physical location. As a result, they may set up a virtual office and a virtual mailbox service.
Before deciding which address to list for your business, be sure to check the laws in the state where you plan to do business. Each state has regulations on the types of addresses that can be used. For example, if you file formation documents in California, you can use the physical address of your storefront, your home address, or a commercial office — but you can’t use a PO box.
Why do you need a business address?
A business address is important for all types of businesses. It’ll be requested for a wide variety of reasons, including when:
- Registering with the secretary of state’s office: You’ll need to register your company if you want a business structure other than a sole proprietorship. The address you provide will become a public record.
- Setting up a website: When you build a website for your business, you’ll need to provide a business address to register your domain name. You’ll also list one on your contact page. Both will be public records.
- Creating business cards: If you create business cards, you’ll typically want to list your business’s physical address.
- Getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN): When you request an EIN from the Internal Revenue Service, a business addres is required. An EIN is a must if you want to start building business credit, hire employees, pay federal taxes, etc.
- Sending emails to customers: The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you include a valid physical address on all commercial emails.
- Getting business permits and licenses: When applying for business permits and licenses, a business address is required.
- Establishing business accounts: Your business will likely need various accounts such as bank accounts, insurance policies, credit cards, business loans, and more. For each of these, you’ll need to provide your business address for contact and verification purposes.
- Invoicing and providing estimates: When you bill your customers or provide them with estimates, both should list a business address where you can be contacted.
- Creating directory listings: If you want your business listed in directories on or offline, you’ll also typically need to provide a business address. For example, Google business listings, Yelp, TrustPilot, Better Business Bureau (BBB), etc.
A business address is going to be important no matter what type of business you start. By providing the same address across all channels, you’ll create a more professional image that establishes trust and credibility with customers. Alternatively, when your address is missing or inconsistent, it can raise some red flags.
Do sole proprietors need business addresses?
If you decide to operate as a sole proprietor, you won’t need to undergo the company formation registration process with your state. That said, you’ll likely come across many other situations where you need a business address, such as those listed above.
Should you use your home address as your business address?
What about home-based business owners who don't have a separate physical business location? Should you just use your home address as your business address? While you often can, it may not be the best idea. Here’s why.
First, your home address will become a public record — likely in multiple places. This could lead to undesirable situations, such as disgruntled customers showing up on your doorstep. Further, you’ll likely receive a lot of junk mail at your house.
Another factor to consider is that you’ll have to process a change of address for your business every time you move. Doing so can be a hassle and makes your business look unstable. Then, there’s the legality issue. You’ll want to ensure that there are no rules (local, state, HOA, etc.) against operating a business out of your home.
5 alternatives to using your home address as your physical business address
If you don’t have a physical business address, and don’t want to use your home address, here are a few things you can do:
- Set up a virtual mailbox: Virtual mailbox services provide a permanent physical street address for your business where all of your mail can be delivered. You’ll have a virtual mailbox (online or via an app) where you can check notifications, review your mail, and request mail forwarding, scanning, holding, and disposal.
- Rent a virtual office: A virtual office also provides you with a real street address that can be used as your primary business address, a virtual mailbox, and mail forwarding. Additionally, it often includes services such as phone call answering and meeting rooms (in some cases). PS - if it doesn't, you can also get a virtual phone number to protect your personal phone information.
- Rent a local coworking space: Along with being a place to work alongside other entrepreneurs in a shared office space, coworking spaces often offer mailbox services. Sing up to use the office address as your business address and have your mail stored there for easy local pick-up.
- Rent a UPS business mailbox: Another option is to visit a local UPS office and rent a business mailbox. You’ll get a real street address and a lockable box.
- Rent a USPS post office box (PO box): Lastly, you can head to your local post office. USPS offers a PO box service for business owners. You’re given a PO box number and address to use as your business address. However, several states don’t allow business owners to use PO boxes as their primary business address so be sure to check before going this route.
As you can see, there’s no need to fret if you don’t have a physical location — business owners have no shortage of options. You’ll just need to shop around and compare pricing to find the best fit for you.
Can I use the address of my registered agent as my business address?
If you want to do business in a state as a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC), you must have a registered agent in that state. A registered agent is an individual or company that is designated to receive all of the official communications for your business. You can be your own registered agent in the state where you hold residence. However, in other states, you’ll need to enlist the help of a registered agent service.
So, if you hire a registered agent, can you use their address as your own? Nope. You aren’t supposed to use your registered agent’s address as your business address. Instead, you should have a separate address that designates your primary place of business. When your business operates primarily online, you’ll need to designate a business address using one of the methods above.
Learn more about setting up a new business
Want to learn more about setting up a new business? Here’s some further reading: