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PO Boxes may not work as a loophole to Google Play developer address requirement

For those indie developers hoping that a PO Box will work as an alternative to providing a physical (real world) address for your business, it’s looking less likely that Google will accept this.
September 22, 2014
google play store nexus 5 2

You may have already heard the news that Google will soon be implementing a change that requires paid app developers to provide a physical address that will be viewable by anyone, starting September 30th. After that date, developers will have 30 days to input their address, or else Google may take action against the developer (limiting updates, removing apps, etc). The big question is whether or not a PO Box can be used as an address, especially in the case of indie developers that work out of their homes.

We know what some of you might be thinking, a PO Box is not a physical location. While that’s true, it is sometimes possible to get a private box that will let you use the (physical) street address that the box is located at, providing a sort of loophole for these types of scenarios. This led many to believe a PO Box might work for indie developers not wanting to let just anybody know where they live.

the change in policy apparently has to due with the recent changes in EU consumer rights

The problem is that the change in policy apparently has to due with the recent changes in EU consumer rights, which specifically states the geographical location of the business is needed. If Google is following this policy to the strictest sense, a PO Box wouldn’t qualify, even if you provide a street address when giving it out.

So where does that leave us? Very confused. It’s still unclear if there’s an alternative to using your real address if you are simply a hobbyist developer with a small handful of paid apps. We’ve contacted Google and asked for a clearer response, but in the meantime we’d recommend you don’t jump to any major conclusions or run out and buy a PO Box. Instead, we’d wait it out. We imagine as it comes closer to September 30th, Google will provide more detailed information on what’s involved and we hope there will be a way for indie developers to opt out of providing a physical address even if they have to pay a tiny bit extra for some sort of privacy option (similar to when you register a domain name).

Any indie developers reading this, what do you think of the policy change — will you provide your real address or will you do whatever you can to fight this change (if there really is no alternative)? For the rest of our readers, do you think that developers should provide a physical address, even if they work from home?