Author: Marcus Fitzpatrick

A conventional PO Box is a private mailing address that is assigned to you by Royal Mail and can be used to receive mail. They are a popular choice for businesses that want to receive mail privately or for those who do not have a permanent address. However, you may be wondering if you can use a PO Box as a legal address in the UK.

The short answer is that it depends on who you are using the address for and for what purpose.

Using a PO box as a legal address for business

If you are starting a new business, you need a physical address for the business, and you may think of using a PO Box as your legal address. This is because a PO Box address is considerably cheaper than renting your own business premises, and offer privacy than using a home address as your business address will be visible on public domains such as internet. However, there are some restrictions on using a PO Box as a business address. For example, you cannot use a PO Box to register your business name or to obtain a business bank account.

Using a PO box as a legal address for personal reasons

If you are using a PO Box for personal reasons, such as to receive mail privately or to avoid having your address shared with others, then you are free to use it as your legal address. However, you should be aware that some organizations may not accept a PO Box as a valid address. For example, some banks and credit card companies will not open accounts for people with PO Box addresses.

Using a PO box as a legal address for tax purposes

If you are using a PO Box as your legal address for tax purposes, you will need to let HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) know. You can do this by filling out form SA103, which is available online or from your local HMRC office.

Is there a difference between a PO box and a private mail box (PMB)?

Some people use the terms PO Box and private mail box (PMB) interchangeably. However, there is a difference between the two. A PO Box is a mailbox that is owned and operated by Royal Mail. A PMB is a mailbox that is owned and operated by a private company. PMBs are typically more expensive than PO Boxes, but they offer a complete street address, more privacy and security.

Choosing a PO box address

If you are considering using a PO Box as your legal address, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Choose a PO Box location that is convenient for you to access.
  • Consider the cost of the PO Box before you sign up.
  • Be aware of the restrictions on using a PO Box as a business address.
  • Let HMRC know if you are using a PO Box as your legal address for tax purposes.

Alternatives to PO boxes

If you are not sure whether you can use a PO Box as a legal address, you may want to consider using an alternative address. Some alternatives to PO Boxes include:

  • A friend’s or family member’s address
  • A mail forwarding service
  • A virtual office

How we can help

The classic PO Box, which is provided by Royal Mail, is often utilised by major enterprises for large volumes of incoming mail from customers. Customers are unaware of the location of the business because it lacks a street address. As a result, you cannot form a limited corporation using a typical PO Box address. A PO Box provided by a virtual office provider such as us, on the other hand, comes with an actual street address, comparable to someone’s home address, and can thus be used for company registration and legitimate business registrations.

A virtual office service company’s PO Box address can also be utilised by private individuals who do not have a permanent address or who live in shared housing, among other things. With hybrid and remote working becoming the norm, having a PO box with a street address has become prevalent.

Recent 4th March Legislation Change

Advancements in corporate regulations have arrived with the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023. As of March 4, 2024, businesses, including limited liability partnerships, are required to elevate their standards by utilising a designated ‘appropriate address’ as their registered office. This progressive move ensures heightened transparency and accountability, fostering a more robust and trustworthy business environment for all stakeholders involved.

The Act defines an appropriate address as one in which

  • Any document addressed to the firm and delivered there by hand or post is expected to come to the notice of a person working on behalf of the company.
  • The address provided offers a sophisticated mechanism for document delivery, as it allows for seamless tracking through the acquisition of delivery acknowledgments.

Third-party addresses meeting the aforementioned criteria remain viable options for establishing a registered office. This encompasses specialised services offered by reputable virtual office providers, company formation agents, accountants, and solicitors, ensuring flexibility and convenience for businesses seeking compliant solutions.

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