As a flexible office space operator, In order to accept mail for your clients, operators are required to register with the USPS using a Commercial Mail Receiving Agent (CMRA) application, or a USPS Form 1583-A. Generally, the operator or the location’s community manager will complete the application, which does require proof of identity.
CMRA rules were put in place by the USPS in the early 2000’s
They require a completed and notarized USPS form 1583 to be submitted for every business address user that does not have office use, or access to the space for 16 hours or more, per month. Technically, only a portion of your business address clients or business and telephone answering clients are required to complete the form, however, many operators utilize the form for a larger portion of their virtual office (VO) clientele, often for the purposes of confirming the identity of clients that they may not have the opportunity to know as well as others.
The CMRA form can be a bit complicated for some folks, so it is a good idea for Operators to have a ‘Sample Form’ handy to offer to new Clients. The form can be fully completed in one of two ways:
1) The Client personally presents him/herself to the office with 2 proper forms of identification, as listed on the CMRA regulations, and have the Operator’s staff review and satisfy themselves of proper documentation, and then sign off as the Agent; or:
2) The forms need to be completed and duly notarized.
Best practices in our industry is to utilize the services of an online notary company such as www.Notarycam.com, and to cover the cost of the notary service as part of your set-up fees. Online notary services are familiar with CMRA policies and identification requirements, and can handle both domestic and international clients.
While post office branch managers have differing knowledge and operational expectations of the CMRA requirements, operators should expect that they may be asked to file quarterly reports as to the names and status of their clients that are mandated to complete the forms. You’ll want to confirm with your local Postal manager for expectation. You may also be expected to list PMB numbers for these clients and identify said numbers to your local USPS branch.
Operators should be aware of the specifics of CMRA requirements
For one thing, clients are not allowed to submit forwarding address forms when they are no longer members. Think about it from the USPS perspective, if 100 clients are using your business address and then one moves to another location, this could wreak havoc on the processing of mail properly for your location, and can lead to mis-forwarding of other client’s mail. You’ll want to make it very clear to new members that they will not be allowed to simply forward their mail upon their departure. Per CMRA rules, operators are therefore required to forward mail – by repackaging and re-posting – to departed members for up to 6 months. The USPS makes no rule for this to be achieved without compensation, so you’ll want to plan for transitional service fees to cover this time period. Clients that do not pay will have their mail ‘Returned to Sender’.
While the CMRA process may sound a bit daunting, those of us in the Flexible Office Space industry are appreciative of the USPS for creating ground rules for setting up virtual office clients. It is incumbent upon all of us in this industry to utilize these guidelines, if for no other reason, than as a stop gap against fraudulent use of our addresses by unscrupulous individuals looking to hide behind false identities. CloudVO appreciates this requirement and takes it VERY seriously. We’d rather lose a client that wishes not to engage in the process rather than risk some ‘bad apples’ in our client ranks.
Best of all, CloudVO takes care of the cumbersome part of the process; when presenting a VO client to our partners, the client has been fully vetted by CloudVO following the CMRA guidelines.
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