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Is a business address a physical address?

...or can a business address be a virtual address?

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The scenario: sole trader with a hobby business. All business done via email/telephone/online - doesn't have business premises or even take visitors where he works (at home) but does present invoices to customers. Can't afford a service address/PO Box.

Is the law clear that invoices must give a physical address for the business? Perhaps not, if it was written before email became ubiquitous. I suppose legal service can still only be to a physical address - is there a workaround for that, like saying "Address for legal service available on request to [email]"? (Yes I realise the obvious flaw.)

I'm sure there's some legislation that allows an address to be withheld if there is a clear risk of harm, but that's not the case here - just a wish for privacy and no more junk mail by advertising an address unnecessarily.

Any ideas gratefully received.

Replies (8)

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By lionofludesch
15th May 2021 14:03

I'm guessing HMRC will be wanting to know where to send the bailiffs and control visit fellas.

I'd be surprised if an email address would be accepted.

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By johnhemming
15th May 2021 15:39

Legal service via email needs permission in advance. Hence you need to have a postal address to sue someone. If that someone wishes not to give out their address for service then you are a bit stuck.

Hence it is a non starter not to have a valid postal address.

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Routemaster image
By tom123
15th May 2021 17:18

In which context are you thinking?

You can give an address to HMRC without fear of spam (AFAIK)

But, if I was a customer, and spending more than a few pounds, I would probably want to know who I was dealing with.

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By Paul Crowley
15th May 2021 18:44

The kind of person that wants to hide an address from his good clients will ALWAYS give his address out immediately upon request when thing go wrong? Really?

I have a business, Ltd company with address readily available to all.
I get very little junk mail.
I get more advertising leaflets from takeaways from the postman than real addressed junk mail.
I can not see fear of junk mail a reason for hiding an address.

Junk snail mail is a thing of the past

But real life is such that there would be no enforcement of any legal issue about addresses until trader has a problem client.

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By Hugo Fair
15th May 2021 18:46

You ask about a 'business address' but then refer to 'legal services', which are not directly related concepts.

Most UK businesses have three types of address (which may, but do not have to, share the same physical address):
* Registered Office address - legal correspondence address of the company and required by CH (must be in same legal jurisdiction of company registration);
* Service address(es) - legal correspondence address(es) of directors, secretary, LLP members or PSCs and required by CH (but can be anywhere in world);
* Business address - where a business chooses to receive non-statutory mail from clients, suppliers, banks, etc ... but not required by CH.

With certain exceptions, anything required by CH is in the public domain. However, although there is no legal demand for a Business address, you may find it hard (to put it mildly) to set-up a bank account ... let alone convince clients & suppliers to deal with you ... if you won't reveal your trading/contact location!

FWIW you'll get far more junk mail via your email address than via snail mail.

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
16th May 2021 07:03

OP said he is sole trader not company

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Replying to NH:
By johnhemming
16th May 2021 11:35

There are commercial operations that provide postal addresses at a really low price. (lower than a PO Box).

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Replying to NH:
By Hugo Fair
16th May 2021 11:43

Whoops ... I must stop criticising other people for not reading the question fully (as taught at school)!

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