Do you guys think its necessary to have a PO box for online stuff? I just moved and am wondering if I should have a PO box in the new city I live in? What do you think?
It depends on how you are running your business. If you are planning on earning over 70k a year as a business (not a tall order), it makes sense to establish a ltd company, and in order to do that, yes, a physical registered address is a legal requirement: http://www.bytestart.co.uk/content/19/19_1/company-registered-address.shtml
If you are operating as a sole trader, your physical address should be present on any invoices to ensure that the inland revenue is able to verify your tax returns - and that address should be lodged with them. You don't need a registered business address per se, but it amounts to the same thing.
I'm a sole trader but I don't really consider it in the same respects as a physical address of business. When I file my tax return with my income statements (and the documentation required) I of course have my address listed but that's tied to me as an individual earning through my own means rather than the business itself having an independent address. I know we're picking holes here but I've never considered them in the same respect from a sole trader to a Ltd company. Sole traders trade under their own name (often with a brand to represent them - as the business name) but Ltd businesses have more of an official status in respect to a fixed business address (which as you noted is required to be placed on invoices). As for me, I've not bothered to go Ltd as my business running costs are exceptionally low and I'm very careful about separating business from personal earnings. I get the benefits of limited liability but as things stand the extra hassle and paperwork isn't right for my situation. As an interesting side note, I was a director of an Ltd when I was 16 (my business partner couldn't keep the pace up so I resigned to go it solo)
Having had some friends get stung buying concert tickets online, I recommend people never buy anything from a site which fails to list its address and telephone number. I actually go further and advise that they check both the whois record and the record at companies house (in the UK, both easy to do in seconds online).
There are simply too many scam businesses out there not to make these checks. The last one I can across was an "English" concert tickets site who's domain was registered to a PO box in Canada.
Datura, your situation sucks - sorry to hear it
Alex - I use a SkypeIn number for my business and it works really well for me. It also means I can be "at the phone" when I'm mooching around in hot sunny places
For the record, there are squillions of "virtual" office providers in the UK and have been for decades. Currently popular ones:
Some offer services where you can actually physically be there and "hot desk" with others using the service. Some will handle mail in and out for you. The possibilities are endless. Running a business without a physical address in the UK is not actually legal.
Yep. The price we pay to live where we live
Really? That's interesting, I run my business from home (as a freelancer) and all of my work is done virtually (via the web). Under that terms (according to both Business Link and Inland Revenue) I was told that my home didn't qualify as an "office" (as my equipment and place of work is used in equal measure for non-work practices) and as my work is conducted using the Internet, my office is technically deemed as virtual (my website). According to this while I have a physical address (where I live), there's no physical address for my work and I've never had any question over the legality of it from the government.
Most delivery services will not deliver to a PO Box so you'd only be able to use it for regular mail.
I think that a regular, normal address is better but a PO Box may come handly for certain things
Personally I feel more comfortable having a PO box for my business so that I don't have to worry about some disgruntled user tracking down my home address/phone number and causing me and my family grief.
In depends on the type of business and if you have an office or not, but it is true that many packages can't be delivered to a PO Box.
Packages can come to my house, I'm not worried about someone who works at Amazon stalking me. I just don't want someone who is smart tracking down my home information from public sources like whois and the such. If they track down my PO box, or pay as you go cell phone number, I don't really care because none of that is going to let them show up at my house with a baseball bat because I banned them from some site I own that they're obsessed with or because I declined their refund request.
I'd agree it depends on what kind of business you do, but I find that you build trust by having a real landline number and a real address. I'm reluctant to trade with any entity that feels the need to hide their location, it strikes me as a bit 'fly by night', and apart from the legality (here in the UK, companies trading online have to publish their registered office address) it puts doubt in mind about the professionalism of their operation.
That's also true.
TKE, I agree with you on protecting your privacy but having a regular address is better than a PO Box. That's one of the reasons why having an office is so good!. Unless that you're doing a special promotion and expect lots of letters... then a PO Box is the way to go.
Hmm. Consider my situation: I live in a very small community, so small actually that the post office does not deliver mail to the homes or businesses around here. We are forced to have a P.O.Box in order to receive mail at all. Hiding? Certainly not.
The package carriers deliver to the street addresses. When a merchant addresses the package with our street address and the package is shipped by post office, it is rejected by the post office as an invalid address and send back. The credit card companies want the mailing address (P.O.Box) as the valid address, not our street address. When we order merchandise merchants crosscheck the addresses with the post office database, and since we are not a street address, the post office does not have us in the data base. So we do not exist.
It is a nightmare for us. We run our businesses out of our residence, and because we are forced by the post office into this situation we are fly by night?
And think about how many people run their businesses out of their residences today-- the internet made that possible--you should reconsider your attitude Many people now have the possibility to live where they want to through the internet, so many choose to live away from the busy centers and move to small communities with rules of mail delivery that are similar to the situation we face.
If you are going to use a PO Box address as where you want people to send mail to you should also list your street address so that those who are wary of fly-by-night operations that work out of PO boxes can see that you are not trying to hide by using the PO Box.
Too many people have sent money to PO Boxes and then not received their purchased goods and had no way to follow up to ever trust an operation that only lists a PO Box.
Yes, that is true, and we do list both. But when you deal with bureaucrats and banks and such, they often do not accept two addresses. When mail is send by post office and the street address is included, the mail people cross the street address out.
There are also problems with merchant's sites where there is a possibility to fill in both addresses, but they choose to use only one. Often we make a call to clarify this. But it is a hassle.
When I ship packages to customers I do not include our street address, because I do not want them to drop in on one of their vacations :D. A P.O.Box is fine for doing business IMO. I do not deal with cash, only credit cards and PayPal so people can always draw their money out of the process if they feel that they got cheated. It has never happened
And no one has ever entered their credit card info into a site with no clue as to who the payment processor is or where the site is located and had the site owner take off with their money.
When registering a domain you can supply multiple addresses so that both the PO box and the street address can appear in the whois info.
When setting up a contact page on your site you can provide both the addresses specifying which one that people must use - that way ythey can send to your PO box while still having a real street address as a fallback so they know they will still have a way to contact you if you closed down the PO box (not that you would in your situation but then they don't know your situation unless you tell them).
When actually sending out goods or ordering goods there would be no need to specify both addresses - you simply specify the one that you need them to actually use. That just leaves you with your specific problem of places that refuse to send to a PO box where your post office will not deliver to the street address. I'd have thought that it would have been sensible for the post office to allow you to set up a permanent mail redirect from your street address to the PO box in that case though.
Most of the cases I have seen that don't allow PO boxes the package isn't being sent through the post but is being delivered by a courier and so the courier wouldn't have access to the PO box to deliver the package there and the package wouldn't fit the PO box even if they could deliver it there. (Strangely though one of the four books I had delivered to me this week was delivered by the postal service rather than a courier even though all four were labelled the same way on the actual packages - so I guess there's no guarantee of how something will end up being delivered).
When I get an order coming in I send an email notifying the customer when the goods will be shipped, I also include the send-back addresses, clearly telling them how to ship with what carrier if they need to return the merchandise. I will not include my home address to be read by all that wish to have this information in passing. Whois posts this information for our company name, which is an umbrella for our differing businesses. But most people do not know about Whois. If somebody wants to find this information for whatever reason that is easy enough by reversed telephone directory.
I have not had any problem with customers ever because they do not have my home address, and I have done much business all over this country.
The post office here in the US is run by the Government (rolleyes). Just last week we tried to convince some higher ups in the system to please include the addresses in our area into the database. It took all afternoon but to no avail. They are bureaucrats and that is that.
I think today with people doing business online, there is no need to give a physical address. If you charge the cards through a reputable gateway and/or have the customer pay through PayPal, people will not hesitate.
Oh, our post office has special lock boxes for super large packages. They put a key into the P.O.Box so when you go there after office hours there is access to the shipment.
Interesting too, when I applied for my new resident card (I still am a German citizen), the homeland security office through which this runs, sent the mail to the street address, even after I had written this P.O.Box with explanation on the forms. Numb-heads.
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