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  • Michael Bolt

Can a Virtual Office Address..?

The way we conduct business is constantly changing and evolving. The rise to prominence of the internet as a means of running a business means that literally anyone can set up their own operation right from their own home. These home businesses in addition to the many SMEs operating out of small, cost effective offices, often find themselves in need of a ‘prestigious business address’. That’s where a virtual office comes in, the only problem is, there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about what exactly a virtual office address can be used for. The following are some of the most common questions we get asked by potential customers.

Can a Virtual Office address be used for my marketing materials?

MarketingMaterials

The question of whether a Virtual Office address can be used for marketing purposes or promotional materials is one that comes up frequently. The simple answer is yes. The number one reason that people turn to a Virtual Office provider is to gain a prestigious address with which to advertise their business. A Virtual Office address can make any business look bigger and more respectable than maybe it actually is, which could greatly help with customer perception and ultimately drive sales.

Can a Virtual Office address be used to increase website visibility through Google Places?


This is another one that comes up very often. The short answer is yes you can, but in my mind you probably shouldn’t. The primary reason for Google’s local listings is to allow users to find local businesses relating to their search query. Using a physical location which none of your business is actually conducted could be seen as trying to cheat the system in Google’s eyes and your website could face a ranking penalty in the future. Additionally, Google prefers that a physical address be used by only one business. This means that it may also be detrimental if your Virtual Office address is shared by multiple businesses.

Can a Virtual Office address be used to open a bank account?


The use of ‘Virtual Offices’ or ‘Mail Forwarding’ addresses is delivered under the umbrella of the ‘London Local Authorities Act 2007’ and on the fringes of several other UK laws. I think the most relevant relates to that of ‘Money Laundering’ and ‘Fraud’ as there are several controls in place to manage these and requirements for due diligence on the part of banks to ensure their customers are who they say they are. The basics for this are checks against, name, ID and residential address.

Regardless of how a UK bank is to be used i.e. for personal or business reasons, a residential address must be provided. Any attempt to provide a virtual address as your residential address is breaking both the money laundering regulations and open to breach of laws concerning fraud or at least intent. You may however request your bank to keep on record both which they may or may not agree to and would suggest this is very much a specific policy of the bank.

Can a Virtual Office address be used to legally register a business?


The registration of UK Companies is governed and controlled by Companies House. The requirements placed on companies for the use of addresses is well documented within the Companies House website. Historically companies would either use their trading address or that of their accountants or solicitors who would be required to hold a ‘certificate of incorporation’ and have clear signage within the premises relating to that company. In addition, the Director’s residential address was also available for view by all who had access to company records.

More recently, changes to these requirements allowed for less visibility of the Director’s private or residential address by using a third party address for public view. This is on the basis that the true residential address is still provided but not for public viewing. This allowed the use of Virtual addresses or third party addresses to be used more widely through a variety of Virtual Office and Serviced Office providers.

If you found the answers to these questions useful or have anything to add please leave a comment. Likewise, if you need any further help or have any more questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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