You can set up a private limited UK company online in just 24 hours, or register a branch of your existing company in up to 4 weeks.
Set up a company in the UK
Register (incorporate) a company in the UK
Setting up business in the UK is straightforward.
If you are expanding your business into the UK or setting up business in the UK, you have several options about how your company operates.
If you want to create a separate legal entity in the UK (‘incorporate a company’), forming a private limited company is the most popular option. You can also incorporate a business as a sole trader (in which you have all liability for company debts) or a partnership (where you share the liability with other partners in the business).
Setting up your company in the UK
Before you start the incorporation process, you’ll need:
- a name for the company
- an address for the company – this can be any UK address
- at least one director – this person does not need to be a UK resident
- at least one shareholder – this can an individual or another company
A UK company must have documents called a ‘memorandum and articles of association’, which must be in place at the time of incorporation. You can use standard template documents, or professional advisers can prepare and file tailored documents on your company’s behalf.
It is not a legal requirement to have a UK resident director or shareholder to set up a UK company. However, many banks will prefer that you have UK resident directors or shareholders before they will open a UK business bank account for your business.
Services to help you set-up in the UK
The UK government can provide information to help you set up in the UK. Please contact us to find out more.
Many companies in the UK can also provide you with specific advice and guidance on establishing your presence in the UK. The UK government is working in partnership with the following companies that can help you with your specific queries;
- Barclays, the international banking group, has a variety of products and services that can help businesses locate in the UK. See Barclay’s corporate products and services
- PwC, the international professional services network based in London. See PwC’s advice on investing in the UK
- KPMG, provides audit, tax and advisory services for companies setting up in the UK. Read about KPMG’s services
Register a UK branch of a foreign company
By registering a branch of your company in the UK, your company does not create a separate legal entity, instead it registers your company to do business in the UK. A branch does not offer the limited liability benefits that come from setting up a UK limited company.
It takes longer to register a UK branch of an overseas company because your company must submit documents and information to Companies House and it can take 4 weeks for these to be reviewed.
Read more about registering your overseas company in the UK.