Virtual Mailbox
February 9, 2023

What is the Difference Between a Physical Address and a Virtual Address?

Source: Pexels


Starting a new business can be exciting. There are many decisions to be made before doors can be opened.  Some are more important than others, but all companies need to have a place to receive goods and documents that help them to run their company. 

Although a physical office space or store is undoubtedly a bonus, it’s a huge expense for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Some companies do not want to open a physical office or simply do not need it.  How, then, will these companies be able to receive important documentation and packages?

This article aims to answer that question and put your mind at ease that actually having a premise is not the only solution.

What kinds of addresses should you know about?

There are three main types of addresses spoken of in the business world.  Physical and mailing address are the commonly used terms, yet there is a third term known as a virtual address.  Let’s look at the differences.

Mailing address

Let’s explain this by way of an example.

You complete a form manually or online for your business, such as a supplier agreement.  And are asked to provide your mailing address.

What are they asking for?  

They simply want to know where to post documents such as invoices to.  This can be the same as the physical location of your business or the address of a postal service, which provides a point for you to collect your mail. 

For you to receive your mail, you will need to supply contact information such as a postal box number and suburb or the location of your premises with the street number, town and state.

Physical address

A physical address refers to the business's actual location and can be found by checking on a map or using a service like Google Maps. Physical addresses do not have the same restrictions as PO Boxes because you can receive documents, large packages and other items at your premises.

- Do you need to have a physical address for your business?

The answer to this question lies in the kind of business that you have.

You will need a physical address if you have a public presence or a place where you manufacture and ship products

Suppose your business will receive confidential information that requires a person to sign for it during business hours, or you need a location to consult with clients. In that case, it is better to have a physical address.

But many businesses conduct their activities remotely because they do not need a building to operate.  If business activities can be concluded online using services such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or MS Teams, then an office is an unnecessary cost to incur.

Virtual address

Even though called a virtual address, it is a physical location that you can use to receive and send out mail and packages.

If you are required to provide a physical address but do not have an office building, then this solution is for you.  

Virtual addresses are not the place where you reside or have premises.  They are accessed and managed remotely through software and other digital solutions.

- How do you use a virtual address?

Businesses can use a virtual address for many different reasons. The only limitations may be legal restrictions placed on all postal and mailing services, which will be available online to review.  

You are provided with an address coupled with an online management service (a software program that allows you to access and track your mail), enabling you to access all your mail items. Virtual address providers typically offer mail scanning, forwarding and even storage. 

Thatch provides their clients with one place to access all their business communications.

Source: Pexels

- Benefits of a virtual address

1. You do not need an actual office to have a physical address

2. You can receive documents and packages

3. Electronic storage of mail items

4. All mail is tagged and logged, giving you a record and a way to track items

5. Mail can be re-routed to other locations 

6. You have the benefit of a physical address which is good for professionalism

- How to sign up for a virtual address

When you have chosen a service provider, you will be given a physical address that will allow all your mail and packages to be directed to the right place.  You will be given access to the service provider’s online management service with login details and a password.  

There are different types of virtual addresses:

  • Virtual PO Box 
  • Virtual street address
  • Virtual returns address
  • Virtual parcel address

Trythatch provides clients with an offline digital mailbox and will scan all your physical mail directly to their email inbox.

Source: Pexels


With so many options available to meet your business requirements, you have the flexibility of having a physical address without the cost of a building.  That sounds like good news. 

And most virtual address providers have multiple locations worldwide, making this a great option for companies. Competitive packages are offered on a monthly or annual subscription basis, so there is a solution for every business size.  

So let someone else worry about your mail so you can focus on the things that grow your business. With virtual address providers, this is more possible than ever.

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