Types of addresses for Small Businesses
While setting up a business, you have to fulfill the address requirements which can cause a lot of confusion. If you too are facing this challenge, then don’t worry. Anyone who has ever tried to form a company has been through that.
Whether you are starting a business as a sole trader or setting up a small business, you would be required to submit one address at least with HMRC for contact purpose so your clients and suppliers could reach you.
Limited companies too are required to provide contact address. The purpose and requirements of providing the address are mentioned further in this blog.
Sole trader addresses
Small business owners working as sole traders, freelancers, and contractors; all are required to provide both home and business address while registering with HMRC to become self-employed.
Those operating from non-residential business premises such as store, studio, or warehouse need to use the address of that premise as the official business address. If you operate business from home then you can use that address as business address.
Often many business people prefer to go with third party address service providers. Many business types such as accountants, mail-receiving providers, and company formation agents like UPS, and MailBoxes offer professional address services for physical mailboxes and letters including customer returns and larger packages.
You can go for these third party services if you prefer to keep the address private and want to give the company a more professional image. These services are also excellent for accepting deliveries and handling customer returns.
Limited Company Addresses
There are different address requirements for sole traders who run Limited companies including LLPs. They must provide different addresses for Companies House.
- Registered office address
While filling out an application form to get a limited company registered, you must supply an address for the business called ‘head office’ also known as the registered office. The same is provided with the public register and also used by HMRC and Companies House as the official contact address of the business.
You can use any address including your own private one. However, it is important to choose the one that is located with United Kingdom where you registered the business (Scotland, Northern Ireland, England & Wales).
It’s important to think about what type of impression you wish to make while selecting the address. An address indicating a private residence won’t convey the same level of professionalism, trust, prestige and as an address of non-residential commercial premises. Also, the address will be included in the public records so take your privacy into consideration while selecting it.
- Service address
During the registration process, you must provide the service address details in the application form. The data has to be provided by the officers such as company secretaries, directors, shareholders, guarantors, or people with a significant amount of control on the business activities. Members of LLPs can also supply this information.
All the information is listed in the public register of companies. HMRC and Companies House send official mail to the holders of each service address. A service address can be anywhere. You don’t need to provide one that is in the same country where the company office is registered. So, you can provide your home address too. But, again keep the privacy of the home in mind while providing it as it will become public record.
- SAIL address
Supplying SAIL (Single Alternative Inspection Location) – is optional. Most small companies don’t need to provide it. The idea of this business address is to use it for storing company registers and to avail them for public inspection. Mostly SAIL address is used for convenience such as in conditions when the registered office is not accessible due to the location. SAIL addresses are made public records therefore one must choose an address which is in the same location as the registered office. You can choose both commercial and residential address for this purpose.
- Business address
This doesn’t have to necessarily be the same as the registered office. It’s also optional. A company could have the registered address in one location and multiple addresses for the business in other location as well as outside of the country also. The address can of your studio, office, garage, factory, shop, etc. It can be any place from where you can contact customers and trade from. HMRC or Companies House doesn’t need this information for storing in the public register.
- Customer returns / shipping address
E-commerce business operators need to have a suitable address where customer returns and deliveries could be accepted. It doesn’t have to be the same as the business address. But, it must be easily accessible to courier services and postal workers. Therefore, it’s recommended to not use the home address for this purpose. Here, a third party professional mailbox service can come handy. Additionally, a commercial shipping and return address also gives a more trustworthy and credible image than giving a home address for accepting deliveries.
- Trading Address
A trading address is where business trades from or operates. But sometimes a company can have a single trading address and several business addresses in case they have branches spread across multiple locations. This happens mostly in cases of chain stores, franchise, and large corporations.
Creating a positive image
It is required by the law that a company has its address clearly mentioned on its website as well as all the forms of communication. Therefore, address is an important aspect of your business and will determine how others perceive it. Even as a sole trader, you will need a website, business cards, letterheads, etc. It means you will have to mention your shipping and business address on all these places.
An address that sounds like a residence would obviously not sound as appealing or credible to your customers and associates as using a recognizable commercial address. Now that people have access to Google Maps, locating the place of a business is easier than ever. Looking at an apartment image is obviously not going to build the same trust factor as seeing a commercial building.