My business is web based only so I don't have a physical address tied to the business. When I registered the business with the state and IRS I used my home address; however I currently rent and plan to move fairly soon. Would it be better to pay for a PO Box and use that as my business address so I don't need to re-register if I decide to move again in the future? Aside from the annual cost of a PO Box vs periodic cost of changing my address with the state, are there any other pros or cons of using a PO Box as the address of my business? Is there a better option I am not thinking of? I currently receive almost no mail for my business and I don't expect that to change much so I am only considering a PO Box because I want a "permanent" address I can use for the business where addresses are required.
One thing I've been adviced of is that Google search may be more optimized if I have a street address vs. PO Box but since this isn't a business anyone will visit in person I am not sure if that is applicable and if so maybe I will just list my home addresss on the site for SEO purposes.
Thank you in advance for sharing your experiences.
Amy, if you pay for a PO box at somewhere like the UPS store, many of them use an actual street address and a suite number. The downside of this is that if you want to change locations, you can't do an address change with the post office, as it is a registered mail handler.
You are better with an actual PO box in that case if you aren't planning on staying in the same area, as if you switch locales, you can forward it from one actual PO box to another.
The USPS (post office) now offers the same service as UPS in that you CAN use a physical address with your PO Box. They will also receive and sign for packages from any carrier if you would like them to.
I highly recommend it, not just from a cost standpoint (which I feel is minimal in the grand scheme of a business), but just for the stability of your business. I also advise having any and all business mail go there (banks statements, federal and state notices, etc). Therefore you do not have to worry about ever updating your address whenever you move.
I also like it for security reasons. Your business address is a matter of public record. I personally do not want my home address out on the internet for anyone one to find.
I've done both. Generally when a PO Box is used for an address, the consumer assumes you are a home-based business or a one person shop. This may generate less trust. While a PO Box offers some stability in addressing, this is a convenience for you only. Many circumstances require you to use a physical street address, not just a correspondence address, and this includes the CAN SPAM Act. So if you are promoting anything via email, you must have a physical address as part of the message.
If you do decide to go with a PO Box, my recommendation is that you get the street address of the post office itself, make that your address, and add your box number like this. ABC Company, 2700 LaFayette Ave #551, Baltimore, MD 21203. It will get to your box, and it looks like a street address. The government typically won't take this though on forms requiring your physical address, they know it's a post office and not your actual address. No matter how much you try to hide your home-based business, there is always a way to get your home address. So, unless you're selling something embarrassing, it's really not an issue.
On a separate note, if you are running a web-based business from your rental apartment/house, you may be breaking the law. In nearly every state you need a license to run a home-based business that requires permission from the state/county and more important to this conversation, your landlord. Even if your business is drop-ship or service related and no business is ever conducted in person at your rented residence, you need a home occupation business license (different states call this different names). Some states even forbid home occupations in any rental unit. So, if you're planning to move to another rental, make sure you get this part sorted before you sign a new lease and operate illegally.
Other than having to go check your PO box for any mail (and now, some post offices have an online delivery-notification service), I've found no disadvantages after nearly two decades having one. I've never tried to fool people into thinking I have a huge business, so I doubt anyone saw my having a PO box as suspicious or unprofessional. And being that you have a web-based business, no one's really expecting a physical address anyhow.
The only exception would be if your business is in the realm of those that are sometimes scams. Not that *yours* is, but let's just all agree that certain types of online businesses seem more sketchy than others. For example, if you're claiming to make millions of dollars a year, I'm suspicious if you only list a PO box. On the other hand, if you're running a small business selling hand-made dog collars online, people wouldn't think twice. I'd also add that PO boxes in Florida and Las Vegas seem extra suspicious since both of those locations have a disproportionate number of online scammers and fraudulent businesses.
Otherwise, it's been great. It provides continuity during moves, the mail often arrives a day faster, PO box addresses are shorter, and they don't cost much at all (starting at about $60 for six months vs. about $20 *per month* at a place like UPS Store). And as has been mentioned, most now allow for the post office's street address to be used.
Last suggestion... try to get a box with a round number, like 2500. Similar to the last four digits of a phone number, it conveys a sense of permanence. Alternately, a memorable number is good... 5353, 222, etc.