• Home >
  • Blog >
  • Physical Address vs. Mailing Address: How Do I Know Which One I Need?

Physical Address vs. Mailing Address: How Do I Know Which One I Need?

Running a business isn’t a one-address-fits-all scenario. Meetings need a space, mail needs an inbox, and records need an official tag. Think of it like setting up different rooms for different purposes.

In this article, we simplify the meaning of a physical address, a mailing address, and registered addresses. By the end, you’ll have a confident grasp on what your business needs, making the address game a breeze.

What’s the Difference Between a Physical Address and a Mailing Address?

Physical addresses, also known as street addresses, are essentially locations on the map:

  • They’re tied to specific geographic areas governed by local authorities, impacting everything from land rules to taxes.
  • A physical address could be where your office, home, or favorite coffee shop stands.
  • When scouting for a physical address, consider the essentials, such as easy access to public services, schools, hospitals, internet, water, and sanitation. These factors shape the environment for your office space, setting the stage for your business.
  • If your business thrives in the digital realm, a physical address might not be in the cards for you.
    • For online ventures, the owner’s home address often takes the spotlight as the business’s physical address, which for many reasons, isn’t always ideal.
  • When it comes to mailing addresses, they don’t have to match where you’re actually located:
    • Imagine your home or office is in one place, but your mail gets sent to another spot. This offers you more privacy and you get to choose the street address that suits you best.
    • Just think of it as having different addresses for different purposes – one that tells people where you are, and another for where your mail finds you.

What’s A Physical Address?

A physical address designates the specific location of where you live, work, and receive mail, identified by a street name and number. It’s an official address where the physical structure of your home or business is situated.

A physical home or office address is essential for mail delivery, emergency services, and legal purposes, such as applying for driver’s licenses, business permits, and credit cards.

  • What’s an example of a physical address?
    • An example of a physical address is the specific location of a place, typically identified by a street name and number. It also typically includes zip codes. For instance:

123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 98527

What’s A Mailing Address?

A mailing address is where mail is sent and received. You can use a P.O. box or a virtual mailbox address as a mailing address.

It’s worth noting, however, that while a P.O. Box or virtual mailbox address can serve as a mailing address, they can’t substitute for a physical address, and thus can’t be used for applying for licenses, permits, and other forms of legal registration.

A physical address is the specific location of a place, whereas a P.O. box or virtual address is a separate mailbox service often used for mail delivery and collection.

  • What’s an example of a mailing address?
    • A physical address encompasses all the details required to identify an individual or organization. This includes the street number, city, state, and zip code of your location, and may also incorporate building or suite numbers when applicable.
    • It can be a traditional street address, for example:

John Smith
456 Elm Street
Cityville, State
12345 USA

  • Alternatively, it might include P.O. Box addresses with zip codes:

Jane Doe
P.O. box 789
Townsville, State
56789 USA

Can Your Mailing Address Be Different From Your Physical Address?

Yes. There are times when mailing addresses differ from your physical address:

  • Your physical address is the specific location where you’re located, such as your home or office, identified by a street name and number.
  • Your mailing address, on the other hand, is where you receive and deliver mail, and it may be a different location:
    • For example, you might use a P.O. box or virtual mailbox as your mailing address, especially if you want to keep your home address private or if you’re managing mail for a business.
      • A P.O. Box or virtual mailbox provides flexibility and allows you to receive correspondence at a location other than where you’re physically situated.

4 Reasons Why Your Mailing Address May Be Different From Your Physical Address

Besides privacy and security, there are a few other reasons you might want to use different mailing address and physical address:

  • Unique ZIP Codes
    • The vast array of ZIP codes in the United States include unique ZIP codes assigned to government agencies, large corporations, universities, and high-volume receivers.
    • With unique ZIP codes, all mail is directed to a central physical address and managed and distributed internally by an organization, leading to a distinct mailing address.
  • Weather or Location Challenges
    • Residing in a remote area or a location prone to heavy weather can impede carriers from reaching your home:
      • In such cases, opting for a P.O. box address at the local post office offers a reliable solution. This not only ensures the secure delivery of packages but also provides the convenience of pick-up at your schedule.
  • New Street Address
    • The USPS’s shift in 2013 altered the delivery approach for new street addresses. Instead of delivering mail door-to-door, residents in these areas receive postal mail at centralized locations, such as centralized mailboxes:
      • Consequently, new street addresses (your actual address) may differ from your mailbox address, therefore impacting the street address you provide to ensure doorstep deliveries from online stores.
  • Military Addresses
    • A military address is associated with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, etc., and functions uniquely within the USPS system.
    • Handled like domestic mail, these physical addresses route through military post offices, resembling a distinct ZIP code setup.
    • Including unit designation and APO/FPO is imperative, making military addresses a specialized mailing category.

Understanding the above exceptions ensures you’re ready to take a nuanced approach to addressing mail and parcels, and aligning your choice of address and shipping methods with specific circumstances and postal intricacies.

What is a Business Mailing Address?

A business mailing address is the location designated for receiving mail related to a business. It’s the address to which business mail, packages, and official documents are sent:

  • This address can be distinct from the physical location of the business and may include specific details like a suite or unit number.
  • Many businesses use a separate mailing address for reasons such as privacy, professionalism, or centralizing mail management.
  • A freelance business owner may also opt for a business mailing address to separate personal correspondence from business mail.
  • A business address offers a dedicated point for communication and can be a P.O. box, a virtual mailbox, or any location specifically chosen by the business to handle its mail operations.

Which Address Do I Need For My Business?

Understanding the distinction between a mailing address and a physical address is crucial when establishing a business:

  • If you’re launching a brick-and-mortar store, a physical address is essential. But for online businesses, it might not be necessary unless certain operations or client meetings require a physical presence.
  • In the context of physical address vs. mailing addresses for business, you can use the same location for both, directing operations and incoming mail.
  • Certain legal structures, however, like LLCs, require a registered agent with an address in the state of registration. Fortunately, for online businesses, a virtual business address can serve as a solution for the registered agent requirement without the need for physical space.
  • Virtual mailboxes may also come with helpful features like mail scanning or a mail forwarding service, making them an attractive option for professional organizations. For this reason, it’s important to consider your business operations and legal obligations carefully when choosing the type of address that suits your needs.

Why Do I Need a Business Mailing Address?

A physical business address is essential for several reasons:

  • Credibility and Professionalism
    • Having a business address adds credibility and professionalism to your business. It instills trust in customers, partners, and stakeholders, signaling that your business is established and trustworthy.
  • Security
    • A professional mailing address provides a secure location for important business correspondence and legal documents. It ensures that sensitive information is received and handled in a controlled and secure environment, reducing the risk of loss or mishandling.
  • Convenience
    • A business address offers convenience. It provides a centralized mailing box for businesses to receive mail, packages, and official communications. This centralized point of contact streamlines business operations and facilitates efficient mail management.

Where Can I Get a Business Address?

To acquire a business address, you have several options, each catering to different needs:

  • Virtual Address
    • Virtual addresses are obtained through digital mailbox services or business centers. Companies like Anytime Mailbox offer these types of mailing and physical addresses, allowing you to receive mail without a physical space.
    • How do I get a virtual address?
      • Research virtual mailbox address service providers online, choose a reputable one, and sign up for their services. You can choose a physical street address where you can receive postal mail and packages.
  • P.O. Box
    • A P.O. Box is secured through your local post office. Visit the main post office, inquire about available P.O. Boxes, and choose the size and location that suits your requirements. This is a straightforward solution for a separate mailing address.
    • How do I get a P.O. Box?
      • Visit your local post office, inquire about available P.O. Boxes, complete the required paperwork, and pay the necessary fees. You’ll receive a key or combination for accessing your assigned P.O. Box.
  • Coworking Space
    • Coworking spaces often provide mailing address services for their members. When you join a coworking community, as part of your membership, you can use the coworking space’s physical address and centralized or virtual mailboxes for business correspondence.
    • How do I get a coworking space?
      • Explore coworking spaces in your area, select one that suits your preferences, and sign up for a membership. As part of your membership benefits you may be able to use their physical address for mail.
  • Office Space
    • Acquiring a dedicated office is the more traditional option. You can lease an office in a business center, rent a private office, or sign a lease for commercial space. This provides a physical location for your business operations and a professional mailing address.
    • How do I get an office space?
      • Contact commercial real estate agencies or business centers offering office spaces for lease. Once you find a suitable location, negotiate terms, and sign a lease agreement to secure your space and official business address.

Physical Address vs. Mailing Address: Know the Difference

Navigating the choice between a physical address versus mailing address is a pivotal decision in establishing a business. Your selection between a physical and mailing address hinges on the nature of your operations, legal requirements, and the level of professional image you seek:

  • While a physical street address is often necessary for businesses with a tangible presence, the flexibility of mailing addresses, such as a virtual mailbox or post office box, caters to the evolving landscape of remote and online ventures.
  • Striking a balance between credibility, security, and convenience is paramount.
  • Consider the specific needs of your business, whether it be a brick-and-mortar establishment or an online consultancy, to determine which address type aligns with your goals.
  • Ultimately, making an informed decision between the various types of physical and virtual mailing addresses ensures that your business not only meets regulatory standards but also fosters trust, security, and operational efficiency in its chosen address format.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I create a mailing address?

  • Creating a mailing address isn’t something you actively do. Mailing addresses are typically assigned by postal services. However, you can use services like P.O. Boxes or virtual mailbox services for added privacy and convenience, offering an alternative to your home address.

Who assigns a physical address?

  • Physical addresses are usually assigned by local government agencies or municipalities. They implement address assignment systems to organize and identify locations within their jurisdiction.

Can I change my physical address?

  • Yes, you can change your physical address, especially if you move. Just ensure that you update your physical address with relevant authorities to ensure accurate mail delivery and legal compliance.

Can a postal address be the same as a physical address?

  • Yes. Postal addresses can be the same as physical addresses, particularly for residential settings. However, for businesses or unique circumstances, they may differ.

Does USPS ship to my residential address?

  • Yes. The United States Postal Service can deliver mail and packages to residential addresses across the United States, providing a convenient and widely utilized service.

Why is my residential address missing from the USPS system?

  • Address discrepancies do sometimes occur. If your residential address is missing from the USPS system, contacting your local post office can help resolve the issue by updating or verifying your address.

Should I get a P.O. box?

  • Getting a P.O. box is a practical option for a mailing address, especially if you seek added privacy or have specific mail reception requirements. It provides a secure alternative to using your home address.

What is a commercial address?

  • A commercial address is a type of physical address that designates the location of a business or commercial establishment. It’s distinct from a residential address and is used for business-related activities.

What is a virtual address?

  • Virtual addresses provide a physical address, often with a mail forwarding service and virtual mailbox features. It’s commonly used by businesses and remote workers to maintain a professional mailing address without the need for a physical office.
  • A service like Anytime Mailbox provides you with an address that you can use for this purpose. You can choose a physical street address from over 2,139 locations, and then receive your mail digitally on your mobile device anytime and anywhere.

What is a virtual office?

  • A virtual office is a service that provides businesses with a professional address, phone number, and other communication services without the need for a physical space.
  • It allows companies to establish a presence in a desirable location, often in a prestigious business district, without the costs, need to be physically present, or commitments associated with leasing a physical office.
  • Virtual office features may include mail handling, a mail forwarding service, phone answering, meeting room access, and other administrative support. This setup is particularly beneficial for remote or home-based businesses, offering them a professional image and the flexibility to operate from any location.

What is a billing address?

  • A billing address is a particular address associated with the payment method used to make a purchase or pay for services.
  • It’s the location where the credit card, debit card, or other payment instrument is registered. When making online or in-person transactions, the billing address is typically required for verification purposes to prevent fraudulent activities.