Thinking about starting a business in the UK? You might be wondering if you’re able to as a non-UK resident. It may come as a surprise to find out that anyone can start a business in Britain. And, there are a lot of opportunities for non-residents to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
If you decide to start a business in the UK, you won’t be alone. The UK has one of the world’s biggest economies, and many non-residents have taken the opportunity to start their own UK-based business.
But before you get your business off the ground, there are many things you’ll need to consider. Luckily, we’ve put together this handy guide to show you everything you need to do to start a business in the UK as a non-resident.
Step 1: Business Name and Plan
Before you can start thinking about anything else, your business is going to need a name. You may already have a few ideas in mind for your business name, but if you haven’t, it’s worth considering a few things to get the ball rolling:
- What does your business do?
- What do you offer your customers?
- Can you describe what you do in a single word?
Once you’ve gone through these questions, you should be able to come up with a few different options. Write them down and ask your team or friends and family what they think; pay close attention as they may come up with something perfect.
If you’re struggling to develop a business name, you can work backwards from your business plan. Your business plan will give an overview of what your business will do and how it will succeed. Your business plan should include details on:
- The need for your business
- Your business model
- Market and competitor analysis
- Financial projections.
Be as detailed and critical as you can when putting your business plan together, as it’s a roadmap for your business’s success (or failure). Once you’ve done your research, you may have stumbled upon the perfect business name. If you’re still struggling, you can try a business name generator for inspiration.
Step 2: Business Address
To start a business in the UK as a non-resident, you’ll need a UK address to register your business. This may sound daunting if you have no plans to move to Britain to start your business, but it’s nowhere near as complicated as it first appears.
While you do need access to the address, there are ways around the issue. One of the easiest ways is to register your business at a family member or friend’s address if you have any in the UK (check with them first). Another option is to get a virtual office space with a postal address in a building owned by somebody else. Companies that offer virtual offices will forward any correspondence you receive, so you can be sure you’ll get all of your company’s post.
Step 3: Business Legal Structure
One of the most important considerations for starting a business in the UK is the legal structure of your business. Regardless of whether you plan to run your business in Britain or a different country, your company’s legal structure will determine how your business runs. There are several forms of company structure to choose from:
- Partnership — Two or more people set up a company and share responsibilities and profits.
- Private Limited Company — A separate legal entity to the owners and needs one shareholder and one director.
- Public Limited Company (PLC) — Shares are available publicly, and PLCs need two directors and a company secretary.
- Unlimited Company — An uncommon business type in which shareholders have joint, total liability for any business debts.
- Social Enterprise — All profits go to charitable organisations or causes.
- Unincorporated Associations — Usually, unincorporated non-profit organisations like community groups.
While there are several types to choose from, most new businesses opt to become a private limited company.
Step 4: Registration with Companies House and HMRC
The process of registering a business with Companies House as a non-UK resident is no different from that of a British resident. You’ll need to provide the same information, and there are no charges for registering. You’ll need to supply Companies House with the following information:
- Business name
- Business address
- Shareholder information
- Documents of formation
- Director Information
After your registration, you will need to register for tax with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who will issue you with a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). To ensure that you pay the correct amount of tax, you’ll need to record all your sales and expenses. If your annual taxable turnover is more than £85,000, you’ll also need to register for Value Added Tax (VAT).
Step 5: Other Things to Consider Before Starting a UK Business
At this stage, you are set up and ready to start trading as a business. But there are several other things that you may want to consider before getting started, such as:
- A UK business bank account or virtual bank account
- Visas for travelling or working in the UK
- Data protection registrations
- Any licenses your business will need
It’s worth taking the time to consider these as failure to do so could cause you significant problems later on. Certain industries have specific requirements for companies, so it’s always worth double-checking what you need before starting your business.
Once you’ve completed all the steps above, you’re ready to get your business going and make your entrepreneurial dreams come true.