Step into my virtual office

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Do you already have an address for your company? We didn’t.
Many of the apartments or ‘mansions’ rented in Japan do not allow the residential address to be registered for businesses (check with your landlord!). One of the reasons is to avoid any business related trouble (claims from clients) that would create hassle for the landlord and other residents, as the company address is easily obtainable once a company is incorporated.
SOHO is the term used for a ‘mansion’ that can be registered for a company or office.
Something else to note, if the company CEO or President moves to a new address, the company documents will need to be updated to reflect the change, which will incur a fee (~30,000 JPY).

We had 2 options:

  1. Use the address of a family or friend who owns their own home.
  2. Rent an office space or address.

We opted for Option 2.

Virtual Offices

We focused on a location that was easily accessible by everyone, and searched online for a ‘Virtual Office’ (バーチャルオフィス – ba-charu-ofisu). As we were working with a low capital, we chose the cheapest option, to rent an address to register the company, and work from home (we are an IT business, so we could work from anywhere).
Searching for keywords ‘バーチャルオフィス’ and the location gave us several options to choose from.
Many virtual office companies give the basic address rental option, which could be ‘upgradable’ to a booth or office space as the business expands.
Other areas we compared and considered for the virtual office:

  • options for phone reception and fax
  • mail, parcel storage and forwarding
  • meeting room reservations and rates

The Virtual Office we contracted cost 5,250 JPY per month. The Virtual Office company asked for official documents, as well as an explanation of the business, in the form of a pamphlet (WORD document was sufficient) or homepage. There was also a background check or inspection (審査 – shinsa), (probably to check if there were criminal records or not… this is only a guess). This took about 2 days.

As the business was not yet incorporated for us to sign a business contract (we needed an office address to incorporate and complete all the official paperwork), we were recommended the following steps:

  1. Rented the virtual office myself through a personal contract
  2. Use the virtual office address for all the legal documents as well as creating my business cards (名刺 – meishi)
  3. After the business was incorporated, I changed the virtual office contract from my name to the company’s for the company contract

With the office address obtained, what follows is more paperwork!

For professional advice, please consult a Licensed Tax Accountant (税理士 – zeirishi)

Oh, if anyone needs business card advice, as well as business card designing, drop me a note. I also work as a graphic designer, and have created all my own business cards myself.