So you have set up an offshore company, probably in a location far from where you live. Maybe you picked Belize, Seychelles, Panama, or Hong Kong. The address of your company is the registered address your offshore service provider (OSP) provided. Your OSP might have casually mentioned virtual office or actively tried to up-sell it to you – or perhaps you just saw it on their (or someone else’s) site and thought it sounded good.
What is a Virtual Office?
Let’s begin with this basic question. A virtual office is an address in an office building which you can rent for your company. You only rent the address; not the physical office. There are many additional services, listed below:
- Mail forwarding – The office receives mail for your company and forwards it to you or scan it and send you scans.
- Telephone forwarding – You get your own phone number and all calls are automatically diverted to a phone number of choice.
- Telephone answering – Someone will answer your company’s phone number, take a message, and forward the message to you.
- Meeting rooms – This is not very common, but some virtual office suppliers offer meeting rooms you can book in advance.
Virtual offices are available all over the world from a lot of different suppliers.
Who uses Virtual Offices?
Virtual offices are used by onshore and offshore companies whose management thinks having a different address will increase their privacy or reputability.
Why Getting a Virtual Office is Probably a Bad Idea
In short: because it shows you have something to hide.
You may think to yourself that you are already hiding by using an offshore company. That’s true.
I know of several cases where banks have closed down accounts after realizing that their client was using a virtual office to get around sanctions. This has damaged the reputation of virtual offices in the banking sector.
But what if you give your bank the registered address of your offshore company and only use the virtual office when dealing with customers?
Then it’s not necessarily a bad idea anymore.
One thing to keep in is that pure virtual offices providers perform less due diligence than an OSP. While is no guarantee that an OSP will have only reputable clients, it is easier for fraudsters to acquire a virtual office from a virtual office provider.
Whatever you choose to do – make an informed decision.
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