When you’re running a business, it’s not unusual to have multiple addresses for different reasons.
A physical address refers to a company’s real street address or where you’re physically located. Unlike PO Boxes, a physical address lets you receive unrestricted mail, such as packages and parcels, from any carrier. The physical address can often be found in an email’s footer.
Physical Address vs. Mailing Address vs. PO Box
What makes a physical address different from a mailing address?
The former refers to the physical or geographical location of your business. The latter describes the address where you have your mail delivered, but it’s not necessarily where the business operates. In some cases, both the physical address and the mailing address are the same location.
For example, a large enterprise may not require multiple addresses because they most likely have enough space to accommodate all their mail. However, smaller businesses that use their physical location to receive customers may need a separate address to filter out their mail and packages.
Meanwhile, a PO (Post Office) Box is a mailbox that’s located in a post office. While a PO Box lets you receive mail and packages, it’s not a physical address.
PO Boxes may be disadvantageous for business for a number of reasons. These include limiting the mail you receive to only those that are delivered through the United States Postal Service (USPS) and not lending a professional image to businesses.
Aside from PO Boxes, other mailing addresses that are not physical addresses include:
- Centralized mailboxes
Centralized mailboxes refer to a cluster of individual mailboxes placed in a single area. This type of mail delivery system doesn’t necessarily have to reflect a physical address. Instead, each box comes with its own identifier.
- Unique ZIP codes
Unique ZIP codes are given to locations or establishments that receive a high volume of mail, like universities or government agencies. A unique ZIP code is not a physical address because the USPS delivers the mail to a single location. From there, the mail will be internally distributed to its proper recipients, some of which may be located in a separate geographic location.
- Military addresses
A military address refers to the specialized address that’s used to receive mail for a military, Air Force, or Navy installation. In such cases, civilian postal carriers deliver mail to military addresses, which will then be delivered by military post offices.
Why You Need a Physical Address
Aside from being used to receive mail, including a physical address in marketing emails is required by law. The US has anti-spam legislation, or the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, that requires every business that uses commercial emails to give recipients the right to have such companies stop emailing them.
The law stipulates that email campaigns from businesses should include a valid physical postal address, which can be their current street address, a PO Box registered with the US Postal Service, or a private mailbox that’s been registered with a commercial mail receiving agency, which should abide by Postal Service regulations. Violations can mete out penalties of up to $43,792.
Additionally, a physical address is important because it helps businesses establish their legitimacy to email marketing providers and to their patrons or subscribers.
What If You Don’t Have a Physical Address?
In cases where you don’t want to have your physical address revealed, such as if you’re a freelancer or a home-based business, you shouldn’t resort to creating fake addresses as doing so will be a direct violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.
What you can do instead is to look for alternative physical addresses, keeping in mind the CAN-SPAM Act’s requirements. Some suggestions for alternative physical addresses include:
- Store affiliations
If you’re working with a gallery or a retail store, you may be able to use its address as your physical address for email campaigns.
If you’re represented by someone else professionally, you can ask them whether or not they’ll allow you to use their address as your physical address.
- Studio space
If you’re working in a studio space, it may be possible for you to use its address as your physical address.
You can always use an alternative physical address as long as it meets the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act and it’s somewhere that you can collect your mail and packages.