A “virtual mailroom” is a service that provides you with a business mailing address where they receive your mail, scan the envelopes and upload the images to a secure website where you can view the images and decide what actions you want taken, including:
- Open and scan the contents of a piece of mail
- Shred the letter
- Forward the letter to you
- Deposit your checks
- Pay your bills
Some virtual mailrooms also offer “registered agent” services, which is necessary if you want to use your virtual mailing address for your legal business address with the state in which you register.
Virtual mailrooms are ideal for people trying to create a paperless office, because they handle the scanning and shredding of the documents as they arrive.
- Earth Class Mail is the largest, most established virtual mailroom and has business addresses in 19 cities across 17 states, but it is also the most expensive
- If you click through using this link and enter the promo code CHOOSEWHAT when you check out, you can get 1 month free to test the service
- Plans start at $49/ month (Starter plan) for 10 pieces of incoming mail per month
- Unlimited mail plans start at $99/ month
- Integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive and Box
- Shredding included for no extra fee; Additional fees for registered agent services, check deposit and mail forwarding
- TravelingMailbox is a newer, much less expensive virtual mailroom with physical addresses (no PO Boxes) in 15 cities across 13 states
- The Basic plan is $15/ month, which includes 40 incoming envelopes and 35 page scans
- Extended Plan is $25/ month for 100 envelopes and 80 scans & Small Business Plan is $55/ month for 200 envelopes and 180 page scans
- Extended Plan and Small Business plan include a monthly "ScanPAK" that you can fill with papers and send to TravelingMailbox to scan and upload to your cloud interface
- Integrates with Evernote
- Shredding included for no extra fee; Additional fees for check deposit and mail forwarding services
- Just released (May 27, 2016) iOS and Android apps to provide easier access to your mail on mobile devices.
The biggest drawback of a virtual mailing address is that if you cancel the service, you can't use USPS to forward your mail to your new address. You have to notifiy everyone of your change of address. We suggest that you keep a record of everyone that sends you mail at your virtual business address (which shouldn't be too hard, since you have digital scans of every envelope you receive).
If you decide NOT to go with a virtual mailroom, you can still create a "paperless office" by using a document scanner. Neat.com offers 3 different types of scanners (ranging from $180 to $500) as well as special services to help people eliminate the hassle and cost of storing paper.
Virtual Office and Executive Suite providers charge around $100 to $300 per month and offer a wide variety of services. We recommend virtual offices for business owners who are interested in exhibiting a more traditional professional image without incurring the overhead of paying for office space.
- Viirtual office mailbox services will accept and sign for packages from all carriers and will give you mail and package notifications.
- Virtual offices also offer other services, such as office space or conference room rentals and virtual receptionists.
- A virtual office will continue to receive your mail if you move your business location.
- Many virtual office providers offer registered agent services.
Davinci Virtual Office Solutions is a virtual office provider with hundreds of locations across the country. Davinci's services include registered agent services (at many locations), live receptionist services, large meeting room reservations, etc.
The least expensive option for your business is to sign up with a Private Mailbox Service offered by companies such as UPS or Pak Mail. The cost of a private mailbox depends largely on your location and the size of the mailbox. For example, in Austin, Texas a medium-sized mailbox from UPS starts at about $75 for three months. The biggest dropback to Private Mailbox services is that they typically will NOT serve as your registered agent, which means you'll have to list a different address on your legal business filings.
The benefits of a Private Mail Box include:
- You receive a real street address, which provides you with advantages in business dealings that require a physical location.
- Private mailboxes offer additional services that the United States Postal Service does not such as package acceptance from all carriers, email or text notifications when packages arrive, and the ability to call and inquire if you have any mail.
- A private mailbox will continue to receive mail if you move your business location.
- Zoning Laws: If you have a home business, make sure that your physical address is properly zoned for your endeavor. Check your local zoning laws to make sure your home business complies with them before you start listing your home address as a business mailing address.
- Receiving Mail: You will receive a lot of mail at your business address, so keep that in mind, especially if you plan to use your residence. In addition to bills, invoices, and other important mail from business contacts or clients, you should expect junk mail and random offers. It’s important to exercise caution when mentioning your address online or offline, as it could increase your junk mail.
- Receiving Packages: Consider how frequently you expect to receive packages. Typically, someone must be present to sign for your package. If you expect to receive packages frequently, don’t use a residential address if someone isn’t always at home to sign for parcels.
- Receiving Customers/Publicizing Your Address: If you frequently meet customers or clients, using your home address probably isn’t the way to go. You might not want clients or business contacts knowing where you live or randomly dropping by without an appointment. Conversely, if most of your work is done from home and you rarely meet with clients, then the home address is a good option for your business address and makes checking your mail extremely convenient.
- Problems with Changing Your Address Later: Small businesses typically need maximum flexibility when it comes to office space. An average startup might move office locations three times in one year. Avoid having to change your mailing address on your business cards, website, corporate documents, and other official forms by getting a Private Mailbox or Virtual Office, both of which will continue to receive your mail no matter where you move.
- If you go with a private mailbox address or virtual office (or even a P.O. Box despite its problems), make sure it is centrally located. If you end up moving offices, you still want to be relatively close to your mail. For example, we selected a virtual office in downtown Austin to receive our mail, which was relatively close to each of our physical business locations.