If you run a tiny business, it’s likely that you work from home, to save spending time and money on commuting to expensive offices. A virtual office address retains privacy, especially if you live in shared accommodation, or have a shared postbox. You can also use it to help you set up a simple business account.
If you only deal with email (and have few letters or parcels), the budget scanning options are best (post is scanned and emailed to you, then shredded). But if you physically send or receive mail, you will need a more extensive option. In order to run a virtual office address, you’ll need proof of ID (a legal requirement, to comply with money laundering rules). Learn how to (simply) verify your identity.
Royal Mail has the monopoly on picking up post or delivering it to your door, via a PO box number. But it’s very expensive (and you have to pay 3 months minimum). And if you do have issues, you’ll have to phone Royal Mail (not easy to do, if you’ve ever tried to get through).
A Few Good Virtual Office Providers
- Virtual HQ gives a choice of over 100 virtual locations (ideal if your business in Bristol, but you don’t want a ‘London address’). The affordable 30-day contracts are easy to cancel, and there’s a one-off fee to cover money-laundering checks. If you have not yet set up your business, you can still apply with a ‘to be confirmed’ status, to get everything in order beforehand. Have mail forwarded or scanned, and for an optional fee can add a phone number too.
- The Hoxton Mix gives a cheap prestigious London address, with no postage fees, set up in minutes. It scans all mail and emails the same day, then shreds and recycles documents. You can use the service as a registered business address and cancel anytime.
- Icon Offices offers 4 cheap address options. Choose from London, East London or Essex. Silver, Gold and Platinum packages include worldwide postal forwarding.
A Virtual Mail Office (with phone divert)
Smithfield is a high-end virtual office service. But for £60 a month (way cheaper than hiring a London office), you get a business address, all mail forwarded and phone calls diverted to your home. For £85 a month, a receptionist will take all messages, and pass them onto you.
A Virtual Mail Service for Non-Profits
The Gateway offers virtual office services for charities, social enterprises and non-profits. Use the physical address to receive post, parcels and official government mail (so donations can be used to do good, rather than pay expensive rent). You can also use this address on your website.
A Worldwide Virtual Address (for digital nomads)
Earth Class Mail (US) is a service that can be used worldwide. Your ‘mailing address’ will be Portland (Oregon) but if you’re a digital nomad where it doesn’t really matter, this company scans and delivers mail through storage apps like DropBox, and boasts secure shredding and digital security features. All physical mail received is recycled, and profits are used to plant thousands of trees worldwide.