Address Types: the complete guide

When starting a business, it can be tricky to understand how many addresses you may need for your company. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this address guide to help you understand all the different types of business address you may need and how they are best used. 

No matter the size of your business, whether you’re a sole trader or large limited company, having a firm grasp on the differences between addresses is vital. Do you know the difference between mailing addresses and street addresses, or virtual addresses and physical addresses? Read on to learn more. 

What is your mailing address?

A mailing address is an address where you want to direct general business mail. A mailing address does not have to be the same as the businesses actual location but will follow a similar format: unit number and street name followed by the City, county and postcode. 

If, for example, you are running a small business from your home address, you may want the mailing address for your company to be separate from your home. This would allow you an additional layer of privacy and helps filter business mail from personal mail. 

Many businesses use a PO box or mailbox services for this purpose. These services provide companies with a centrally located address, often within a local business district, which also gives small businesses a more professional looking mailing address in a more desirable postal code. While using a mailbox service requires you to travel to the box itself to pick up your mail, many mailboxes and PO box services offer mail forwarding services for an additional fee. 

What does physical address mean?

A physical address is typically the physical location of your business. This would usually be the address of any commercial premises your company operates from, or, if you’re running a business from your home, this would be your home address. 

A physical address is useful for larger deliveries that can’t be delivered to a PO box or mailbox service, where a signatory may be required to receive deliveries or important documents. Some virtual address providers can offer physical address services, including office services, receptionist services and in-person delivery and mail handling, but these often come at an additional cost. 

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

A mailing address is not always the same as a physical address. A mailing address is where businesses choose to direct the majority of their general business mail, while a physical address, sometimes called a street address, is the geographic location of the company. These addresses serve different purposes. 

Mailing addresses range from unmanned post boxes or mailboxes that are checked once a week to large central mail centres of big businesses that are run by huge teams who process all incoming mail. In many cases, mailing addresses for smaller firms are regulated by the relevant postal services, for example, in the US that may be USPS, and in the UK it would be Royal Mail. 

A physical address, which is also often known as a street address, is most commonly the actual geographical location of the business. This can range from home addresses where small businesses that are run to large companies corporate headquarters. 

In some cases, a business may use it’s physical address as it’s mailing address. If a small to medium-sized business which has a mailroom within the commercial premises that it operates from, it’s business address could be listed as it’s mailing address also.

What is a business trading address?

A business trading address is where customers, financial institutions, contractors or suppliers can send correspondence. This may differ from the businesses physical address, and can on occasion also be different from the businesses public-facing mailing address. It’s not unusual for companies to keep their trading address somewhat private. 

By using a separate business trading address to a general mailing address, businesses can effectively filter the kind of mail they receive. This allows higher priority mail to be dealt with more efficiently than if it were mixed amongst the general business mail directed to the publicly listed mailing address. 

In theory, a business could have entire separate mailing, physical and business trading addresses. Alternatively, all three addresses could be the same – it all depends on what kind of premises company operates from, and how it wants to receive different types of mail. 

What is an operating address?

An operating address is a location where a business conducts its day-to-day operations. In many cases, this will be the same as it’s physical or business address, but they can differ. Some companies use a hired office space as its business address and industrial premises as it’s operating address. 

For non-clerical businesses, an operating address may be an industrial property, like a warehouse or factory, which is separate from the business’s trading, physical or mailing address. This is often due to different aspects of the business – industrial and administrative or clerical – not being located on the same premises. 

For example, a waste recycling business’s main operating address would be industrial premises, but it the company may use the services of a hired virtual address with additional office services including meeting rooms for it’s mailing address and business address needs. 

What is the company’s registered office address?

A company’s registered office address is the official address supplied for any legal correspondence. In the UK the registered address is listed with Companies House and HMRC, and the US this will be the address given to the IRS and state and federal business registration authorities.

Some businesses choose to use solicitors and lawyers offices as their registered address. This often means utilising additional legal services which can include the effective storage of legal registers, documents and letters, immediate access to legal advice and legal secretarial 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. This has meant that it’s not uncommon for businesses to keep a registered address separate from the general mailing address. By keeping these types of mail separate, high priority legal correspondence to be dealt with my the most relevant people more quickly than if it were sent alongside other business mail. 

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

Some businesses will have the same address listed as their registered and business addresses, but these aren’t always the same. A registered address is an address provided for legal correspondence – often supplied to tax and government authorities – while the business address is typically the actual geographical address of the business. 

If a business wants to have legal correspondence sent to its own premises, then the registered address will be the same as the business address. However, some companies prefer to keep these separate, to ensure legal mail is dealt with separately from other business correspondence that is delivered to the business address. 

Depending on a businesses size and function, it can have all manner of different addresses. Some businesses will have separate physical, mailing, registered and trading addresses, while others may choose to centralise all these functions in one location. 

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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.

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.