30 November, 2023
PO Box Alternatives in the UK: Cheap Options for a Small Business
A common question we’re asked by modern business owners and startup SMEs is whether it’s worth investing in a traditional PO Box alongside a virtual office suite. We typically don’t advise doing so. You’re better off with a mail-handling solution that dovetails more conveniently with your virtual business address package.
In the following explanation, we'll look into why this cohesive approach offers more convenience and efficiency for your business. Let's explore the reasons to skip the traditional PO Box and embrace a streamlined mail-handling solution that complements your virtual office setup.
Are You Sure That a PO Box Is Right for Your Business?
Let’s start by comparing a business address with a PO box. Here are the main reasons to go for the latter option:
- Privacy — People won’t know where you live or work; they only need to know the address to which your post gets sent.
- Mobility — You don’t have to wait for a physical postal service to deliver your package.
- Flexibility — If you want to move your mailing address to a different city or even country, you can do so online without having to actually move your office.
The interesting thing is that most of these reasons also apply to alternatives to a PO box in the UK. So before you opt for a PO box, consider the following:
- Does it create the image you’re hoping to convey to clients and customers?
- Are buyers likely to be put off by the fact that you don’t give them a traditional street address as a contact point?
- Can you source a PO Box service within convenient proximity of your actual physical location?
- Will you be able to make time to collect your mail from a PO Box frequently?
- How often will the service need to be renewed, and what happens if you forget?
- Will you use it often enough to make it worthwhile?
Best Practices for Utilising PO Box Alternatives
The main reasons companies (or sole traders) tend to want a UK PO Box alternative are:
- To keep things running smoothly and efficiently while saving your business money on excessive admin or HR costs.
- To help manage incoming mail, including important official documents and small packages, without any physical, geographical, or storage-based restrictions.
- To increase and maintain privacy, particularly in situations where you’re working remotely from home.
Unfortunately, standard PO Box costs in the UK can be prohibitive, so in terms of the above reasons, this solution pretty much falls at the first hurdle.
However, you still want a credible UK mailing address that clients and customers can use to contact your business by post without revealing your physical location. In short, you want a cheaper alternative to a PO box, and a virtual office mailbox fits the bill perfectly. Let’s talk about how and why:
- It adds to your professionalism. Utilising a virtual mailbox provides businesses with an additional layer of privacy. It allows you to separate your business address from your personal one, adding a level of professionalism to your communication with clients. But the main difference is that you can choose from multiple addresses in prestigious parts of, let's say, London, which will be quite expensive when using PO boxes.
- It improves your mailing flexibility. Virtual PO box providers offer services like mail scanning and digitalisation. It means you can access your mail online, enabling efficient organisation and retrieval of essential documents from anywhere.
- It widens your geographic flexibility. Alternative PO boxes often come at more affordable rates than traditional PO boxes. Businesses can save on administrative costs while still maintaining a credible UK mailing address. Moreover, with no geographical restrictions, you can receive mail regardless of your physical location, making it ideal for remote workers or companies with multiple branches.
Factors to Consider when Choosing PO Box Alternatives
The choice of PO box addresses alternatives in the UK should be approached responsibly. We have outlined several important factors that will bring you closer to the desired option:
- Tailored mail handling. Decent PO box address alternatives for business in the UK should offer a range of mail handling services, including mail scanning, forwarding, and notification alerts. These features enable you to manage your mail efficiently and stay informed about incoming correspondence in real time.
- Package-friendly services. Businesses that conduct regular shipments should also care about the variety of mail types. If you refer to this type of company, your PO box alternative must be liable for different mailing options, such as packages and parcels.
- Digital management. This feature is a must if you often find yourself out of your office. Having an alternative that offers online access to your mail is very convenient because you can manage all the questions on the go.
- Generous storage time. One more consideration is the time for storing your mail. Ensure it allows you ample time to retrieve your mail, especially if you are away for extended periods.
- 24/7 customer support. When choosing a virtual address provider, pay attention to how quickly they reply. A truly responsible provider will try to give their assistance as fast as they can. If anything, you can rest assured that your issues or inquiries will be resolved promptly.
- Additional services. There is a bunch of additional services offered by the alternative, like phone answering or access to meeting room facilities. These supplementary features can enhance your virtual address experience and support your business operations.
- Future-friendly pricing. Scalability is vital. As your business grows, the demands and operational expenditures are increasing respectively. Compare pricing packages to find a cost-effective solution that aligns with your requirements without incurring unnecessary expenses.
- Accessibility. It is not necessary, but advisable to select an option that is easily accessible from your location. For example, if you are looking for alternatives to a PO box London address in the UK, opting for local providers is an added convenience for your company. Proximity to your workplace or residence can streamline mail retrieval.
All PO Box Alternatives
Now that you know that PO boxes may not be suitable for your business needs, you’re probably looking for an alternative to a PO box in the UK. We narrowed down the options to the following list:
- Official address registration with Companies House;
- Redirection Service from Royal Mail (and other Royal Mail PO box alternatives);
- UK mail forwarding;
- Directors Service Address;
- London residential address generator.
What Exactly Is a Virtual Mailbox?
Virtual mailboxes in the UK typically work much like any other mailing address would. The key difference is that all the post your business receives has been sent to your virtual business address instead of to the actual street address you’re located at.
In our case, virtual mailboxes hired through The Hoxton Mix provide you with the same Shoreditch-based central London office address as your entire virtual office solution operates under. A virtual mailbox is normally used as an add-on service for an existing package providing you with a virtual office address in London, although many types of virtual mailbox services can also be purchased cheaply as a standalone option. Let us know that you’re considering this option so that we can help you get started!
We offer various convenient approaches to business mail handling, including:
- Virtual Mailroom service operates off-site as an all-encompassing end-to-end virtual mailroom solution for business.
- Virtual Office Collect — we receive and store your incoming letters and small parcels, then notify you immediately of their arrival and arrange a convenient time for you to collect them from us.
- Virtual Office Forward — we log your mail, then send it immediately to you at any other physical address you’d like to receive it at.
- Virtual Office Scan Lite — we scan your incoming mail to create PDF digital copies that can be searched by keyword or topic, then send these ‘paperless’ versions to you by secure email. The hard copies can also be forwarded by post (Virtual Office Scan Pro) or safely shredded off-site by us if you prefer.
PO Box vs Virtual Mailbox: Pros and Cons
The most obvious downside of a traditional UK PO Box is the expense of running one. Currently, PO Boxes cost UK businesses a minimum of £283.50 per year, and that’s for the most basic manual collection service if you choose to pay for a whole year in advance.
In addition to their considerable expense, standard UK PO Boxes come with some other serious disadvantages you may need to bear in mind. These include:
- Not being permitted as your publicly registered business address during company formation. You’ll have to provide Companies House and HMRC with an actual physical street address for legal company formation. Our virtual mailing address services give you that, based right in the heart of London.
- A less professional image than a virtual business address. PO Box addresses are a potential turn-off for many clients and customers. To some, a PO Box might tend to imply that you won’t check or receive your incoming mail as promptly as they’d like, or that you could have less scrupulous reasons for wanting to conceal your physical location. A virtual office package from The Hoxton Mix gives your business a reassuring, instantly recognisable street address.
- Potential issues with some mail handlers and couriers. Depending on the type of post you’re receiving, and the service providing the delivery, you may not always be able to arrange redirection to a PO Box address.
- General inconvenience. If you want the most affordable service while maintaining a prompt and efficient pattern of contact and reply, you’re going to be travelling to your PO Box location very frequently. If it’s not close to your actual site, this could take up a significant chunk of your weekly work time.
Our virtual mailboxes sidestep all these downsides — your incoming mail from clients, customers, and official bodies is always sent to and received at a recognisable UK street address. From there, you can choose whether to collect it yourself or have it forwarded to you in physical or digital format.
Moreover, virtual mailroom services bring with them various other important advantages, such as:
- Convenience and flexibility. You’re free to decide which type of mail-handling solution best suits you and your company and put together a package that ideally meets your needs.
- Increased privacy. If you’re working remotely, a virtual business address is an ideal way to avoid revealing your personal information to clients and customers without resorting to an off-putting PO Box address.
- Better efficiency. Opting for a service such as our Virtual Scan Lite package saves you much time, money, and energy. Everything arrives in a fully-searchable digital format, enabling you to run your remote office in a tidy, sustainable, and paperless form.
- Enhanced security, reliability, and consistency. Because your virtual mailbox address is based at our Shoreditch head office, there’s always someone on hand during business hours to receive and log your mail as soon as it arrives. There’s no risk of letters and packages being left anywhere unattended or returned to the sender because you weren’t around to sign for them.
Paying monthly for a more comprehensive PO Box service can easily result in an annual bill of over £500. This is dramatically more expensive than many virtual mailroom services. Virtual business address options at The Hoxton Mix, for example, start from as little as £150 per year, or £0.41p per day (+VAT).
Renting a virtual mailbox from a provider also requires a monthly or annual subscription but is much more affordable. The combined virtual office, mail handling, and forwarding service with The Hoxton Mix costs £25.00 per month (+ VAT). Luckily for clients, we don’t charge postage fees. So, you won’t come across any hidden expenses and only pay for the services you sign up for.
If you’re already convinced that a virtual mailbox service would be a better alternative to a UK PO Box for your company, you can contact a member of our team at any time. Whether you’re an established existing brand or a new startup looking to get registered, we can help you set up your virtual office suite in just a few minutes, from as little as £15 per month +VAT.
Are there any alternatives to a Postbox in the UK?
Yes, you can set up virtual mailboxes, which are the alternatives to a PO box address in the UK. This option provides you with a secure mailing address where others will receive and store posts on behalf of the addressee. Normally, such services also include mail forwarding, when packages are sent to the address where the addressee is physically located
How much does a PO box cost?
PO box mail forwarding from Royal Mail costs £35.10 per month or £283.50 per year. However, if you forward mail to an EU destination or other places in the world, the price jumps up. Mail handling can become more affordable if you combine it with other packages from a full-service provider; for example, you can get it with a cheap registered office address.
Can everyone set up a virtual mailbox?
Yes, everyone can run a virtual mailbox as long as they have a valid subscription. But if you want to make changes to your business with legal implications, check out our guides on how to register as a sole trader and change a registered business address.
Can I use the PO box as a legal address in the UK?
Unfortunately, using a PO Box as a legal business address is not permissible in the UK. However, The Hoxton Mix presents a reliable alternative with legally compliant virtual addresses. Maintain your business's legitimacy and credibility by opting for our verified virtual address service.
Can I get a post office box without an address?
Yes, indeed. The Hoxton Mix provides virtual PO box alternatives in the UK with a unique address format. One enables you to receive and manage your mail digitally without the need for a physical location. Our secure online platform ensures efficient mail handling and easy access to your correspondence from anywhere.