If you're wondering, can I use a PO Box for my business address, you're not the first to ask that question. Different business types and states have different rules regarding this issue. If you're starting a business and aren't sure of the rules in your state, double check with your Secretary of State website to be sure.

Can I Use a P.O. Box for My Business Address?

The basic answer to this question is "no." While some situations do technically allow for this practice, it's generally not a good idea. The marketing professionals at Google advise against using a P.O. Box for a business address because it leads to poor rankings through the search engine, and it's against their terms of service agreement.

Google doesn't like the use of a P.O. Box for a business address because it doesn't give strong evidence that the business is legitimate. Before Google made this rule in their service agreement, some illegitimate businesses would rent P.O. Boxes in order to rank higher as a business with the search engine.

When you start a business, putting money into property for the company is an investment. This applies even to business owners who use their home address as their business address. Either way, you're signifying that you take your business seriously.

Pros and Cons of Using a P.O. Box

Using a P.O. Box as your business address can give some flexibility if the business moves in the future, but also can create complications when trying to generate a customer base. Potential customers tend to question the legitimacy of a business when they see a P.O. Box as its address. They might assume that the business is home-based or run by just one person, which can lead to less trust.

The CAN SPAM Act requires businesses to verify their existence through the use of a physical street address. If you're hoping to use email in your marketing and sales strategy, you should be sure to have a physical address that you can use as part of the message.

Other potential issues that can arise with the use of a P.O. Box as a business address include:

  • Some courier companies will not deliver to a P.O. Box.
  • Many government licenses and registrations require a physical address.
  • Some companies will not accept a P.O. Box as a type of verification.

Home-Based Businesses

Web-based businesses that are run out of a person's home could potentially be operating illegally. Most states require home-based businesses to have licenses. In order to obtain a home-based business license, you'll need to get permission from your state and county as well as your landlord if you're not the homeowner.

Drop-ship and service-related businesses that don't actually conduct business operations in the home will still need a home occupation business license in order to legally operate that way. There are different names for this particular business license depending on the state. Some states don't allow businesses to run out of rented homes or units, the business owner must own the property. You'll want to make sure you know the rules in your state before starting to conduct business in order to avoid any legal issues.

Business Address Versus Registered Agent Address

All states require a physical address for the business's registered agent, but this isn't the same as the business address. A registered agent is a person or entity that receives legal correspondence on behalf of a company. These agents need to provide a physical address because they accept service of process documents, which are always delivered in person. Some businesses choose to use their business address as their registered agent address.

Certain states require a business address in the articles of incorporation that are filed for the business, but not all. In such states, a P.O. Box may be an option for a business address, but it still might not be the best idea. Since all states require a physical address for the registered agent, a business that uses a P.O. Box for their address will have to hire a registered agent or use their attorney's address. Law firms usually charge a fee to act as a registered agent for a business.

If you need help with understanding if you can use your P.O. Box for your business address, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.