What is the difference between a mailing address and physical address?

When you’re running a small startup or a large limited company, you may need more than one address. Between documentation and deliveries, you can be asked for all manner of addresses, including mailing addresses, physical addresses, business addresses, registered addresses and even street addresses, and often, these all mean slightly different things. 

Here we break down the differences and similarities between different kinds of addresses – and point out when they can be the same – so you use the right address for the right purpose and ensure that you have all the right kinds of addresses for your business. 

What is the difference between a mailing address and a physical address?

The main difference between a mailing address and a physical address is that a physical address is where a business is physically located, typically a commercial or home address, while a mailing address is where that business’s mail is delivered, such as a PO box, mailbox service.

For smaller businesses, these can often be two separate places. There’s a variety of mailing solutions for companies that do not want to use their physical address for mail. These are traditionally PO boxes or mailbox services, but some virtual address services can also offer additional mailing services. 

If you are running a small business from your home, using a PO box, mailbox service or virtual office with mailbox services can give your business a centrally located mailing location, and a more credible business address and more desirable postal code. These services often require you to travel to their location to collect mail, but some offer a mail forwarding postal services for an additional fee.

However, if your business has a dedicated commercial space, your business’s physical address could also be used as a mailing address. This would mean all business mail is delivered directly to you at your business’s physical address. 

What is the difference between a registered address and a business address?

Typically, a registered address is the address listed as the company’s official, legal correspondence address, which can differ from a more general mailing address used to receive general mail. A company’s business address is most commonly the business’s physical address. 

A registered address is an official address you supply to governmental and tax authorities and is the address used in any legal or court documents. In the UK, this would be the address given to Companies House and HMRC, while the US a registered addressed would be given to the IRS and state and federal business registers. For small businesses, this is often the business owner’s home address, a solicitors or lawyers office address or a business’s commercial address. 

Some businesses will often choose to use solicitors and lawyers offices as their registered office address, utilising legal services which can include the effective storage of legal registers, documents and letters, immediate access to legal advice and additional legal services. 

In general, legal letters and mail about tax and government issues are often more important than other types of business mail and require immediate attention. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to keep a business’s registered address separate from it’s mailing address – this should help ensure that any legal mail is dealt with more quickly than other business mail. 

Is a business address the same as a registered address?

While your business address can be different from your registered address, you can use the same address for both. In some industries, for example if you have bricks and mortar stores, your registered address will be different from your trading address. If you use your business address as your registered address, all your legal correspondence will be sent to your business address for you to deal with directly. 

However, it’s worth considering how much mail you get sent to your business address before using it as your registered address. If you use your business address as your mailing address, your business address might be receiving a high volume of mail. In that case, it might be a good idea to list a separate registered address to ensure all legal correspondence is brought to your attention without having to be separated from the rest of your mail and is dealt with quickly. 

Is a mailing address the same as a street address?

There’s an important difference between a mailing address and a street address. A mailing address is where you want to direct the majority of your business mail. In contrast, a street address is often used as another name for a physical address, meaning the address where your business is located. 

As mentioned above, if you want to have your business mail sent to your business address, then these can be the same address. However, if you run a small business with no commercial premises, perhaps your business is run from the business owner’s home, then having a dedicated mailing address separately from the business address – or “street address” – has its benefits. 

Mailbox, PO box and virtual offices with office meeting room and mail services can provide small businesses with more professional, centrally located mailing addresses in a more desirable postal or zip code. They also add a layer of privacy for home-run businesses. 

When starting a business, it’s essential to recognise the differences and similarities between mailing addresses, physical addresses, business addresses and registered addresses, and hopefully, we’ve made the lingo around addresses slightly easier to understand. 

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Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.

Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.