Registered Agent vs Virtual Office & Virtual Mailing Service

Registered Agents Reviewed is reader supported. If you buy a product through links on the site we may make a small commission

Published on:

In this article we explain the difference between these business services and what they are used for. It can be confusing for a small business owner to understand the difference between a registered agent service vs a virtual office or virtual mailing service.

We go over what situations and types of company generally uses registered agents services, virtual offices and virtual mailing services.

All these things have different but related purposes, as we explain below:

  • A registered agent receives official government documents and service of process on behalf of a corporation or LLC
  • A virtual office is a physical office space that can be used by companies usually on a short term or flexible basis
  • A virtual mailing service is a company that receives your mail at a nominated address and forwards it on to you either in scanned or physical form
  • A virtual business address is an address you can use as the address of your business without physically being there for reasons of privacy or convenience

What Is a Registered Agent?

In simple terms, a registered agent (sometimes called a resident agent or statutory agent depending on the state) is an individual or entity (say a law firm or accountant) in a particular state that serves as that LLC’s physical address.

The primary reason you need a registered agent for your LLC is that it serves as a physical address that is open during normal business hours and can receive service of process in the event of a legal issue arising.

What Registered Agent Services Provide

But in reality, a registered agent usually plays a number of other functions for the owners of an LLC, including:

  1. Receiving and passing on government correspondence on behalf of the LLC in a timely manner
  2. Passing on any other correspondence and (in some cases) phone calls in a timely manner
  3. Tracking compliance events for the LLC such as deadlines for filing annual reports

When you form an LLC (or another kind of corporate entity) in a particular state, you will be asked who will serve as your registered agent so it is a key part of the LLC formation process.

What Is a Virtual Office?

My favorite background for video calls!
Follow me on Instagram: @yibeiandthegeng
Photo by Yibei Geng on Unsplash

A virtual office is a service that provides businesses with a physical street address, mail handling, phone answering, and other administrative services without requiring the business to rent or maintain a physical office space.

Virtual offices are often used by remote workers, small businesses, startups, and international companies that want to establish a professional presence in a specific location without the cost of a traditional office.

Virtual office providers offer a variety of services including mail forwarding, live receptionist services, conference room rentals, and access to coworking spaces.

Virtual offices can be a cost-effective alternative to a traditional office, as they allow businesses to operate remotely while maintaining a professional image and enhancing their credibility.

What Is a Virtual Mailing Service?

A virtual mailing service is a type of service that allows businesses and individuals to have a physical mailing address without the need for a physical office.

Virtual mailing services receive and handle incoming mail and packages on behalf of their clients, and then forward them to a designated address or provide digital scans of the mail.

Typically, virtual mailing services are used by individuals or businesses that need a mailing address in a specific location but do not have a physical presence there.

This can include remote workers, startups, and international businesses that want to establish a professional presence in a particular location without the expense of a physical office.

Virtual mailing services may also offer additional services such as physical or digital mail forwarding, mail scanning, and the ability to manage and track mail and packages online.

They can be a cost-effective way for businesses to manage their mail and maintain a professional image without the overhead of a physical office space.

What is a Virtual Business Address

A virtual business address is a service that provides businesses with a physical mailing address and/or a professional business address without the need for a physical office. This service allows businesses to establish a professional presence in a specific location without the cost of renting or owning a physical office space.

Virtual business address providers typically offer a range of services, such as mail and package handling, mail forwarding and scanning, and a virtual receptionist to answer phone calls and handle inquiries. This allows businesses to receive mail and phone calls at a professional address without the need for a physical office.

Virtual business addresses can be particularly useful for businesses that operate remotely or have employees working from various locations, as it allows them to establish a professional presence in a specific location, such as a prestigious business district, without the need for a physical office. It can also be a cost-effective alternative to renting or owning a physical office space, as virtual business address services are typically less expensive than traditional office rentals.

Registered Agent and Virtual Mailing Service Recommendations

Here below are our recommended third party registered agent services. Each of these services offers covered in any or all states for a reasonable cost and can also help you set up an LLC.

Best value


Price: $99 per year

  • Popular and solid value for money
  • Bundled deals on LLC formation ($39 LLC formation includes one year of registered agent service)
  • Good customer service
Visit site
Best customer service
Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent

Price: $125 per year

  • They scan all docs from their local offices
  • Long-standing company
  • Great customer service with personalized support
Visit site
Great value


Price: $119 per year

  • Free LLC formation is tempting
  • Good customer reviews
  • Digital dashboard
  • Automatic forwarding of all correspondence
Visit site
Best no frills


Price: $99 per year

  • No frills but effective
  • Equal cheapest prices
  • Reliable
Visit site
Strong brand


Price: $299 per year

  • Big name and brand power
  • Partnerships with lawyers
  • More than just LLC formation
  • $159 for registered agent fee if you form an LLC with them


Visit site

Registered Agent vs Virtual Office: Frequently Asked Questions

Can a virtual office be used as a registered agent?

A Registered Agent must provide physical location that is always open during official business hours to accept these documents. This means a virtual office address is not suitable for a Registered Agent address.

Can you Be Your Own Registered Agent?

It’s not recommended to act as your own registered agent as it places a lot of limitations on your in terms of having to be president at that physical address during normal business hours. It is also not ideal to be served with legal documents at your home address or business address from the point of view of privacy or reputation.

Can I use a registered agent address as my business address?

In short, for virtual businesses with no physical presence, yes you can. But for businesses that customers would expect to have an office they can visit, it’s not really suitable.
So while you can use a registered agent address as your business address, it’s important to understand the potential limitations and implications of doing so.
A registered agent address is typically used for legal and tax purposes and is listed on public records, such as the company’s Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization.
The registered agent’s address is used to receive important legal and tax documents, such as service of process, notices of lawsuits, and tax notifications. Using a registered agent address as your business address could potentially confuse customers or suppliers who may expect to find your physical business location at the registered agent address.
Additionally, using a registered agent address as your business address may not be practical for all businesses. For example, if you have employees who work from a physical office location or need to receive visitors, you may need a physical office space that is separate from your registered agent address.
If you do decide to use a registered agent address as your business address, it’s important to ensure that the address meets any local or state requirements for business addresses, such as zoning regulations, licensing requirements, and building codes. It’s also important to consider the potential impact on your business’s image and reputation, as having a physical office space can help to establish credibility and trust with customers and suppliers.

Photo of author


Rick Wallace is an investor who has established several LLCs in different states. He writes about starting businesses via LLCs including topics such as choosing a registered agent.