Virtual PO boxes provide the convenience of a PO box in digital form while also offering people and businesses a real street address over a PO box number.
A virtual mail service is necessary for remote businesses that don’t have a physical office, but the service can offer many benefits to individuals, new businesses, and partially-remote offices as well. You may enjoy opening a greeting card every now and again, but if you’re running a business incoming mail quickly becomes a burden, and just one more thing to deal with.
Learn more about virtual PO boxes and virtual mailbox services, including their benefits and disadvantages, and a list of the best virtual mailbox services.
An Introduction to Virtual Mailbox Services
Virtual mailbox services give remote businesses, digital nomads, and full-time travelers the ability to manage their affairs and receive their mail from wherever they are in the world, as long as they have an internet connection.
Even if you don’t have an office or fixed address of your own, you still need to receive mail. Virtual PO boxes offer a range of services focused on enabling you to securely access your mail from anywhere. They provide a digital copy of all of your mail, giving you the opportunity to choose what you want to do with it. Forward documents, ship packages to your location, pay bills, or shred anything you don’t need anymore.
If you run a business, they also provide you with a real physical street address that you can use to register your LLC or corporation or register with Google My Business (which does not allow a PO box to stand in for an address). Having a real address lends credibility to your business and lets the world know that you do, in fact, exist.
What’s with all the names?
Good question. A virtual PO box and virtual mail address are actually the same thing. Although the name says virtual PO box, it actually refers to a physical street address, not a PO box.
Here’s a list of some of the many names you might find out there:
- Virtual PO Boxes
- Virtual Mail
- Virtual Post Mail
- Virtual Post Mail Boxes
- Virtual Post Office
- Digital Mailbox
- Virtual Mail Address
- Mailbox Forwarding Service
The different titles may indicate a slight difference in the range of services provided, but they all offer a way to receive and manage your mail from anywhere. The most common term you’ll see to describe this service is “Virtual Mailbox.”
The Difference Between PO Boxes and Virtual PO Boxes
A PO (Post Office) box is the old-fashioned way to get a business address if you do not have an office. It’s a lockable, physical mailbox at a Post Office location a business can rent by the month or year. The address would be the PO Box ## or letter, followed by the city, state, and zip code as opposed to an actual street address.
A virtual PO box provides an actual office address rather than a PO box number. It’s a street address, usually an office building in a popular business location. As a business, having a real address instead of a PO box number adds credibility and legitimacy to your name.
The other major difference is that you don’t need to physically check your own mail with a virtual PO box service. The service handles your mail, providing you a secure digital copy that you can access from anywhere in the world. They also provide a selection of customizable online digital mailbox services, including a digital business management platform, check depositing, a virtual receptionist, etc.
Virtual PO boxes are growing in popularity as more and more businesses transition to working remotely. A physical PO box is limited to receiving mail and keeping it secure, whereas a virtual post office box offers more robust digital management services.
Who Uses Virtual Mail Addresses?
Startups and New Small Businesses
Businesses that are just starting out and don’t have a physical location yet use virtual mailboxes as a starting off point. They gain a legitimate address without having to rent a space they can’t afford. This way, startups can invest everything in the growth and development of their offering as they build toward acquiring a physical office space. Plus, you can’t use a PO box number to register your LLC or corporation or register with Google My Business, as both require a physical address. Not being able to do either seriously hinders your ability to run a business.
Remote businesses don’t have a physical office location, but that doesn't mean they aren’t sent physical mail. A virtual mailbox provides remote businesses with a legitimate business address they can give to clients, put on a website, and add to Google. The service allows business owners and office admins to securely receive mail digitally from anywhere in the world. Even if an office is only partially remote, this type of service ensures the business can continue to function at 100% no matter who is working in the office or working from home.
Digital nomads work and travel at the same time without being tied to one physical location. It’s an exciting, adventurous lifestyle, but its unpredictability brings plenty of challenges. Moving from one location to the next makes it near-impossible to receive mail. A virtual mail service allows digital nomads to receive mail even as they move from address to address. They can access their mail securely online and forward packages to wherever they’re located.
Travelers and Expats
You may not have a business to run, but if you are a frequent traveler or expat, you still need to receive your mail. Digital options enable you to receive your mail from anywhere in the world if you don’t have your own address. Even if you do, a virtual mailbox means you don’t need to frequently ask a neighbor to collect your mail or worry that packages could be stolen from your porch.
The Benefits of Digital Mailboxes
Opening and sorting mail takes time, to say nothing of the paper cuts. Whether a business or individual, having a service take this step for you is one less thing you have to worry about so you can focus on what you do best or enjoy most.
Whether you’re on a vacation, business trip, or simply don’t want to walk to your mailbox, a virtual mailbox means you’ll have immediate access to your mail as soon as it’s available. You’ll receive an email notification whenever you receive mail, and you’ll be able to open it right away. They say patience is a virtue, but with a virtual mailbox, it’s one more virtue you can avoid. 😉
For digital nomads, freelancers, and new businesses, it’s important to have a real, credible mail address, which is exactly what virtual mailbox services provide. Ensure customers and clients can easily see that you’re a legitimate business even if you’re working from home, Bali, or just starting out.
Added Security and Privacy
If you work from home, a virtual mailbox keeps your personal address private. Virtual mailboxes also keep your mail and packages securely stored and locked in a post office until you forward them. The mail is monitored, so you don’t need to worry about thefts. In general, mail is more secure than being delivered to an office building mailbox or your home.
No Address Changes
If you move offices or go remote, you don't have to update your business address if you use a virtual mail service. This process is costly, takes time, and confuses customers. Business cards, marketing materials, your Google My Business listing, each of your social media accounts, etc., will need to be updated after a change in address. This is not the case with virtual mail. You can keep the same address no matter how often you move around the globe.
Even physical offices may choose to use a virtual mailbox service if they’re trying to go paperless. A lot of paper gets wasted in an office, and with the range of cloud services available, massive filing cabinets are becoming a thing of the past. Your business can set an example for others by choosing the more sustainable option of receiving mail digitally.
🗒 Learn How to Go Paperless at Work, including the benefits, how to do it, and what software will help you make the switch.
The Downsides of Virtual Post Mailboxes
Virtual mailboxes are typically more expensive than a physical PO box. The more services you choose to include, the pricier it’s going to get. Forwarding mail and packages to the address of your choosing also comes with its fair share of fees, depending on the size of the package, how urgently you need it shipped, where you need it shipped, and how fragile it is. Getting your mail forwarded is certainly more expensive than driving to your local post office and opening your PO box. That said, if you’re halfway across the world, this really isn’t an option.
The Best Virtual Mailbox Services
If you’re looking for a virtual mailbox for business or personal use, there are a number of different options available with a wide range of services, from regular mail forwarding to 24/7 mailbox support and virtual assistants.
We recommend double-checking any virtual PO box reviews before making a commitment. Not every service ships globally. You may be able to get digital email copies of documents, but if you need packages shipped to your location, ensure that service is available.
Best virtual PO box services:
- Earth Class Mail
- VirtualPostMail (VPM)
- Anytime Mailbox
- Traveling Mailbox
- Post Scan Mail
- US Global Mail
- Physical Address
- PO BOX Zone
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