As a new startup searching for where to set up shop, you’re considering sunny California, with the great weather and beautiful beaches.
But, before you dive into this dream of running your online startup here, read about what you should know about having a California LLC business address first.
1. You Must List a Business Address with Your California LLC
A business address is an address that specifies your official place of business. Most of the time, this is the address from which your business is operating, but this does not always have to be the case.
How do you get a business address when you don’t have a physical location though? As an online startup, should you use your home address as your business address? Your business address will be publicly displayed to anyone who searches you up, customers and competitors alike (more on using a home address later). For now, let’s table what address to use and ask why this matters.
Your business address is what you will use to communicate with customers, vendors, and anyone else concerned with your business operations. As such, your business address will need to be used for the following:
- Articles of Organization
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Public website
- Emails to customers
- Accounts with suppliers and vendors
- Communications and correspondence with customers
- Business licenses
- Business permits
- Business contracts
Now you know just how many places your business address is needed. That list is just a few of the locations your business address is used. Yikes! Don’t worry - at the end of this article, there are other business address options you can use to protect your business and yourself.
Conclusion, your business will need and address and that address will be used very often.
2. You Can’t Use a PO Box as Your California LLC Business Address
A Post Office box (PO Box) is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mailbox located in a post office that you can use to receive mail and packages. This is often the most popular option when you want to protect your privacy and have minimal mail volume, but there are BIG disadvantages to using it for your startup.
First, you have to physically drive to your local post office weekly, or even daily if it’s an emergency, to get your mail. That’s stressful with traffic. This isn’t at all ideal for time-sensitive or important documents, which you’ll have as a business owner.
Second, using a PO Box address means you won’t have a professional business image. As a startup, you want to be professional to the core to gain trust and credibility from your customers.
Finally, you can’t use a PO Box if you’re registering an LLC, so if you’re going the LLC route, skip the PO Box altogether. Even if you wanted to, you are not legally allowed to use a PO Box as your business address in California.
So, why can’t you use a PO Box as your business address? The California Secretary of State will reject your filing because it does not accept a PO Box for your business address. They don't recognize a PO Box as a real physical street address, which is one of the requirements of California business addresses.
3. Your California Business Address Will Be On Public Documents and Records
Once the California Secretary of State processes your filing and your LLC is officially formed, your business address will be posted for the world to see. Remember the huge list from point #1 of all the places your business address lives? All of that is public!
Anyone can access these public records that include the details of your business, including your business address. When people do research on your company, which you should hope they do because that means they’re interested in learning about your business, one of the first things to pop up will be your business address.
This is a large factor that you should weigh when considering your business address options. We will go more in-depth about the address options for your startup later in this article. The summary here is be careful what address you select because it’ll be accessible online to everyone.
4. Changing a Business Address in California is a Hassle
If you’re moving your business, you’ll have to follow the checklist of all the items you need to cross off. This can be a big pain. If you have ever moved before, you understand how much work it is to update your current address with EVERY single account you’ve ever had. Not only do you need to change it with your banks, insurance, and all legal entities, but you also have to update your clients and customers of your changes.
As a startup owner, you will have to worry about changing your business address with the Secretary of State, in addition to all of your marketing material, online listings, business bank accounts, your mailing address, all formation papers, plus much, much more.
Are you getting a headache thinking about all the places you have to update your business address?
Essentially, everything you have used your business address to sign up for, post, or document will need to be changed. Because no one is perfect and it is very difficult to keep track of every single thing you have used your business address for, you'll be sure to miss some items, and that comes with fines and fees or lost checks. You don’t want that to happen, or worst of all, losing actual money in the transition.
5. What Business Address Can You Use for a Remote Business?
You know you can’t use a PO box address as your business address, so what can you use? Below are the options you can use, including the good, the bad, and the ugly of each business address choice.
Your home address is a viable option to double as your business address. For startup founders like you, you may be considering using your home address because it is free (business-wise) and convenient. You can receive all business and personal correspondence at the same address, and you don’t have to worry about long commutes.
However, there are some big downsides to using your home address if we haven’t eluded to this already.
First, your privacy and security are at risk if you use your home address for your business. As stated earlier, your business address is used for everything from the Articles of Organization to your website and everything in between. That means that anyone who searches your business up will have access to your private home address and can easily plug your home address into their GPS and show up unannounced at your door. No one likes unpleasant surprises, especially from strangers or disgruntled customers so protect yourself and don’t use your home address for your startup.
Using your home address to stand as your place of business also makes your business lack credibility and professionalism as a newly founded startup. Everyone does basic research before making decisions, a quick Google search here, a quick LinkedIn search there. Don’t lie, you do too. So why wouldn’t your customers?
One of the very first things a potential customer or client will see when they Google your startup is your home address. If they see a home address rather than an office or professional address, they will automatically start doubting the credibility of your business. As a startup, one of your biggest tasks is building trust with new customers and maintaining a professional image. You don’t want to lose legitimacy and business because of your address. And once you use your home address for your business, it’s really difficult to take back.
Basically, you can use your home address if you don’t care about protecting your privacy, but we strongly don’t recommend this option for your California LLC. Protect your business reputation and image, and get a separate business address from the start.
A virtual office provides a professional business image and a physical address. This will give you business services without the actual overhead of renting or owning the property, which means it is a cheaper option compared to a physical office. However, even though it’s cheaper than leasing a physical office, it is still expensive, so consider your needs before deciding to go with this option.
A virtual office is best for businesses that need to hold in-person meetings, either with their team or clients, and require services such as receptionists, conference spaces, a local phone number, and mail-handling services.
In conclusion, if you don’t want the burden of renting or buying a physical brick-and-mortar office, this is for you.
A virtual mailbox offers a permanent business address that can receive all of your physical mail and packages, which can then be scanned and sent digitally to you, so you can view it online from any device, anywhere in the world. You also have the ability to request what you want to do with your mail: open and scan, forward, recycle, or shred/destroy all with a click of the button. This option is the most flexible option if you don’t need a physical place to work every day. It’s like your office without the office.
If you run a remote business and don’t need a physical location separate from your home to do your work, then a virtual mailbox is best for you. A virtual mailbox will provide you with everything you need from managing your mail to protecting your privacy to upholding your business image without the weight of costly rent or long commutes.
Virtual mailboxes offer you a physical business address to help you stay successful while running your startup. Another great thing to note is that even if you change locations or even move out of the state, you can still use the same address given to you via the virtual mailbox for your business. Skip the headache of changing your business address no matter where you move!
What You Need to Know About a California LLC
California is a great place to start your business. Many startup founders have found immeasurable success in this state, and you could be next! Before diving in, it is important that you are prepared and know everything you can about California business addresses.
In order to start a California LLC, you will need to list a business address. This business address cannot be a PO box, and it will be used for nearly everything business-related, including public documents and records. If you want to change your business address, be prepared to do a lot of work (except when you use a virtual mailbox!). And lastly, there is a multitude of options to choose from when selecting what to use as your business address: home address, virtual office, and virtual mailbox.
For startup owners who don’t require a physical office space to operate their business, a virtual mailbox is the most flexible and convenient option. Make sure to consider your options carefully based on your needs.