If you’re setting up a company in Tokyo, you’ll want an address to put on your website or business cards. And if you’re starting off by working from home or you’re mixing work with family commitments and want an address that isn’t obviously your apartment, then one of the myriad cheap virtual offices in Tokyo might be a good option.
What does a virtual office provide?
At their most basic, virtual offices provide an address to put on your official company registration and a place for official (and plenty of junk) mail to be sent. Additionally, they may offer services such as a Tokyo (03) telephone number that forwards to your mobile, meeting rooms, equipment for presentations and even short-term desk space.
If you see the virtual office as being just a stepping stone to needing actual office space or a place to work everyday, then you’ll probably want to pay careful attention to the features available and also the community around the particular location. For example, some co-working spaces that offer virtual offices may be better suited for IT businesses, while others may be better suited for ‘creative’ businesses.
What do I need to know before signing a contract?
Although virtual offices are a lot cheaper than getting your own fixed location, the cost for a start-up or bootstrapping business is not insignificant. Before signing anything, it’s important to find out if getting a virtual office in Tokyo is the right thing to do.
For example, if you’re looking to sell stuff through online marketplaces Rakuten or Yahoo Japan, then you’ll find Rakuten will reject applicants with virtual offices, while Yahoo will reject applicants with their company address at their place of residence. Moving your official company address also costs between ¥30,000 to ¥60,000 (Legal Affairs Bureau fees) so if you make a mistake, it could end up costing you ¥120,000 plus the contracted virtual office fees—which you probably won’t be able to get out of paying.
The most famous players in the virtual (and serviced) office space are the international companies Servcorp and Regus. Both have offices in prestigious locations throughout Tokyo, and the services and facilities they offer are quite impressive—although sometimes a little over the top when it comes to trying to look expensive. Bear in mind that shelling out an enormous amount of money for a virtual office at a prestigious address is a bit like turning up to an important meeting in a Mercedes Benz taxi. Sure, it’s a Benz—but it’s still a taxi.
Cheap virtual offices in Tokyo
So, what are the cheapo options? Let’s start with the English-friendly ones:
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This is our spot of choice (and where us cheapos can often be found lurking), as it provides virtual office, co-working and private office facilities just across from Tokyo Midtown. Virtual office fees start around ¥28,000 a month, which is not the cheapest option in town—but it is one of the most inclusive and comfortable.
Another solid choice, Compass is an international provider of virtual offices (plus serviced offices and co-working spaces). In Tokyo, they’ve got options in Meguro and Toranomon, with monthly rates starting from ¥12,000 for a basic business address, and going up from there.
Moboff (as in “mobile office”) is a virtual office provider with locations in Harajuku, Yotsuya and Shinjuku. They have a strong community and regular events—acting almost like an incubator. Prices start around ¥19,800 per month. There are also co-working and private office options, if your needs change.
Here’s another, but you’ll need to be fairly fluent in the vernacular to get set up and use it comfortably:
One of the bigger players in Tokyo is called Customer Plus, which offers a large number of locations throughout Tokyo starting at about ¥5,122/month. This includes the option to book a room for meetings at any of their locations for a reasonable hourly fee. Beware of the hidden fees though—you’ll find there are always little extra things you need that will push the price up to about ¥10,000/month.
Other cheap virtual offices in Tokyo
Another economical option is 1 Stop Business Center—they have a video introduction in English and a dog in a tie as their mascot (bonus points for that). There is also the strangely named Business Pit in Shibuya. Their rates and facilities seem reasonable, but admittedly it’s a little hard to get over the name.
Quick comparison table
|Provider||Starting price||Room to expand||English support|
|Compass||¥12,000/month (business address only)||Yes||Yes|
|Customer Plus||¥5,122/month (business address only)||Yes||No|
|1 Stop Business Center||About ¥4,800/month (business address only)||Yes||Little/none|
|Business Pit||¥5,400/month (very basic plan)||Yes||No|
Note: Expect to pay a once-off set-up fee too.
If you’re looking for a ‘set and forget’ type virtual office, places like Customer Plus are worth a look, but if you plan on having lots of meetings or eventually moving into office space, you might want to consider one of the options that also includes co-working or serviced office space.
If you think you need something slightly more conventional, check out our sister guide to serviced offices in Tokyo.
This post was originally published in April, 2012. Last updated by Carey Finn on October 17, 2017.
All information was, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of update. However, prices and other bits and pieces are, as always, subject to change.
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