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

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Starting a business involves paperwork, from sending and receiving invoices, official documents, tax correspondence, and signing contracts.

For some paperwork and business practices, you need specific addresses, begging the question: do you need a physical address or a mailing address?

To answer that you first need to know the difference between a physical address and a mailing address. 

So, let’s find out.

What is a Physical Address?

A physical address describes your physical location; for example, your residential address is a physical address, and for most correspondence, also your mailing address.

While your physical address can be your mailing address, not all mailing addresses are physical.

How to get a physical address

Local government authorities assign new addresses; for example, the owner of a new property within city limits would contact the city government department in charge of assigning new addresses and submit the relevant paperwork. Once received, the department will arrange a site visit.

Physical address disadvantages

Home-based small businesses are excellent for reducing start-up costs; however, your residential address can project a lack of professionalism, affecting your client’s perceived trust. 

Other disadvantages of using your physical address are:

What is a Mailing Address?

A mailing address is an address/location you can use to receive postal mail; for many businesses and solo entrepreneurs, this is their office or home address. 

But, for entrepreneurs without an office or those who do not want to use their home address, a P.O. Box, which allows you to receive mail while keeping your location private, is an excellent option.

A PO Box, also known as a post office box, is a secure mailbox that acts as your official mailing address. It’s a safe choice as they are in a United States Post Office (USPO) and run by the U.S. government.

How to get a mailing address

You get a P.O. Box mailing address from your local United States Post Office or a shipping center.

Most allow you to reserve a P.O. Box online; however, you must visit the location to provide your I.D., pay the fees, and get the keys.

Mailing address disadvantages

While a P.O. Box provides flexible hours, enabling you to get your mail at a time that suits you, the 2 significant disadvantages are private carriers like UPS and FedEx cannot ship to them (only the United States Postal Service can deliver mail to P.O. boxes), And certain state governments do not recognize a P.O. Box as a business postal address.

What is The Difference?

A physical address is your home or physical business geographical location, while a mailing address is where you choose to receive your mail, such as a postal box or virtual business address.

Speaking of which, that’s another excellent option.

Virtual Address

A virtual address service (also known as a virtual mailbox, virtual business address, digital mailbox, or cloud-based mailbox) provides a permanent street address, allowing you to receive, access, track, and organize your physical mail and parcel shipments from any location with an internet connection. 

Your virtual address provider scans your incoming mail/packages, uploads them to their app, and sends you an email notification. You then choose what action you want them to take, like open and scan, store, forward, shred, and some even deposit checks on your behalf. 

Most virtual address services provide numerous address locations, so you can choose an address in any area that suits your business. Once you select your virtual address provider and address, you can receive mail like any other physical address.

How to get a virtual address

First, choose a V.A. provider that meets your business needs, like the mail you’ll receive (payments, personal, or packages) and budget.

After that, tick the boxes relevant to your needs on your provider’s platform. 

Finally, you must complete and send U.S. Postal Form 1583 to authorize your virtual mail address provider to receive mail on your behalf.

Virtual address advantages

In addition to cost, using a virtual mailing address has a few disadvantages, so let’s shift our attention to the advantages.

A virtual mailbox suits digital nomads and businesses operating in several states by providing a secure, professional address (separate from a home address) that can receive mail from all carriers, including FedEx, USPS, and UPS.  

A virtual mailbox address can also receive official documents, like tax correspondences, credit cards, and driver’s licenses.

Special Considerations when choosing a business address

Specific considerations exist when choosing the right mailing address for your business.

For example:

Legal reasons also come into play when choosing which type of address you’ll use for your business. 

For example, some U.S. states require businesses to have a physical mailing address for regulatory requirements.

An LLC, for instance, must have a registered agent’s address on file with its Secretary of State’s office to receive official correspondence and legal documents, and that address must be physical and open during working hours.

Why is it important to have a business mailing address?

A trustworthy mailing address is essential for most businesses as it establishes professionalism and credibility. But they also need a secure & accessible mailing address they can rely on.

Virtual mailboxes, appropriate physical addresses, and business mailing addresses help give your business credibility and ensure you get all critical mail and official documentation.

What about a shipping address?

A shipping address can receive mail, parcels, and oversized packages.

Many of us know shipping addresses from ordering products online, where in the checkout, it requests your address.

Most physical addresses, including your home, are shipping and mailing addresses, as they can receive mail deliveries from the United States Postal Service and private carriers like UPS or Amazon.

The one exception is a P.O. box, as they can only receive mail from the USPS.


Knowing the differences between a physical address and a mailing address helps you decide which you`ll use for your business. 

For many companies, these addresses are much of the same. But, for some, choosing the address that fulfills their needs is crucial.


How do I know my mailing address?

You can find your mailing address using the USPS online address verification tool.

How can I get a mailing address?

You can get a mailing address by joining an online virtual mailbox service or opening a P.O. Box with your local post office.

Contact your local government planning department for new builds and submit the required paperwork to register a new address.

What is included in a physical address?

A physical address comprises the following information:

Is a P.O. Box the same as a physical address?

No, while P.O. boxes serve as mailing addresses, they are not regarded as physical addresses.

P.O. Boxes and physical addresses have different restrictions; for example, physical addresses can receive mail from private carriers, while a P.O. Box cannot.

What is the difference between a mailing address and a virtual address?

A mailing address and a virtual address are the same things; where they differ, though, is that a virtual address is accessible online, and you don’t have to be present to receive your mail.

Which types of business addresses do you need?

Now you know the difference between a mailing and a physical address. All that’s left is choosing the right one for your business.

For example, business owners opening a brick-and-mortar store need a physical address, while those starting an online business could use a virtual mailing address.

This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information as well as has not been evaluated the accuracy and/or completeness of the information.

Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.