- Coworking spaces, serviced offices and virtual office operators that commercially accept, sign-for, redistribute, and handle USPS mail on behalf of their clients must be licensed to do so.
- Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many flexible workspaces are ramping up their mail services to continue serving members and potential clients that may be in lockdown.
- Flexible workspace operators should consider offering virtual memberships that handle mail as they have a much larger capacity than desk memberships and could be an additional source of revenue.
Do you receive mail in your workspace on behalf of members or clients? Then you need to register with the US Postal Service.
It’s not a difficult process, but it’s a necessary one.
Coworking spaces, serviced offices and virtual office operators that commercially accept, sign-for, redistribute, and handle USPS mail on behalf of their clients must be licensed to do so. Those that handle their clients’ mail without registering with the Postal Service are breaking federal law.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 many workspaces are staying open, even in severely locked-down areas, as their mail service legally classifies them as an ‘essential business’ that should, if possible, continue to operate. If these spaces have to close, potentially thousands of business owners won’t receive their mail, which could cause countless problems for business continuity further down the line.
Workspaces in areas that are not yet on full lockdown are also ramping up their mail services in a bid to shore up revenue during these difficult times.
However, before offering a mail service, workspaces need to follow these steps to register with the US Postal Service.
Please note this article relates to the US. Official regulations, this process may differ in other parts of the world.
Register with the USPS:
A private business that accepts mail from the Postal Service for recipients is classed as a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA).
To become a CMRA:
- Fill in and sign PS Form 1583, ‘Application for Delivery of Mail Through Agent’.
- Each client who uses your address for mail must also complete PS Form 1583, and sign it with a center representative as witness, or a notary (an online notary service is fine).
- Two types of ID are needed to complete the form (one must have a photograph).
- Send your completed forms to the Post Office.
- If the client stops using your workspace for mail, notify the Post Office.
Read the Guidelines and Terms:
- Mail Services – CMRA – Guidelines and FAQs from the USPS
- Details of CMRA processing – For details and full terms and conditions, see section 1.8.2
Why Should I Register as a CMRA?
Workspaces only need to register to become a CMRA if they intend to receive and process commercial mail on behalf of their clients. It’s a federal requirement, and those that handle mail without being licensed to do so risk having their mailing services (or more) shut down.
This would create a negative impact on your business and significant lost revenue as a result of ceasing virtual office and mail services.
Another reason to register as a CMRA is the assurance of knowing who is using your workspace address. CMRA regulations means that clients must provide notarized documentation and identification, which reduces your chances of getting mixed up with fraudulent companies trying to use your address for illegal activity.
What are the Benefits of Offering Virtual Mail Services?
The physical location of a workspace can add massive value to your business. Unlike desk memberships which are limited by physical space, virtual memberships have a much larger capacity. It allows you to earn revenue from your address, which clients and members can use for marketing, for commercial mail, and even as their main company address (alongside a registered agent service).
In addition, a virtual office attracts people to your location who may use additional services such as meeting room rental, day offices, a coworking membership or longer term workspace, as their business grows.
What Else Can Virtual Plans Do?
In addition to using your address and mail services, virtual office plans can provide a lobby directory listing, live receptionist call answering services, and discounted or inclusive access to meeting space and desks. Of course, this infrastructure is already in place; your virtual service acts as a gateway to introduce new clients to these services.
Dive deeper into this subject on Friday, March 27, during a Coworking Convo with Cat Johnson. This free online discussion will cover the topic of virtual membership and why coworking spaces should consider offering them. Sign up here
- Your Mail Handling Service Could Be Breaking Postal Regulations
- Should Coworking Spaces Offer Virtual Office Memberships?
- Coronavirus: Why Some Workspaces May Be Classed Essential Business And Should Remain Open