Virtual Office

The Global Entrepreneur's Guide: Establishing a UK Business as a Non-Resident

Cover fiche pratique

If you are looking to start a business in the United Kingdom, this can be a lucrative endeavour. However, for non-residents, it can also be a complicated and daunting task.

Logo HelloPrimo
Lisa R.
Jun 15, 23 · 8 min read
Too long to read?
Become an entrepreneur with HelloPrimo.

A team of experts will get you the answers you need to get started with your business.

Whether you are a foreign entrepreneur looking to establish a UK branch of an existing company, or you want to start a new one, it is imperative to consider the rules and regulations governing the incorporation of firms in the country.

Right to work

The first thing you'll need to do is to ensure that you have the right to work in the UK. As a non-resident entrepreneur, you'll need a business visa, even if you plan to live in your home country and run your UK operation remotely. A visa will give you the right to live and work in the UK and to hire other workers.

There are three main visa types:

  1. Innovator visa - lasts for 3 years and requires capital of at least £50,000 and must be for a unique business idea. It can be renewed.
  2. Start-up visa - valid for 2 years, again a unique angle is essential, and no capital investment needed. Non-renewable but you can switch to an Innovator visa
  3. Global Talent visa - lasts for 5 years, and applies only to specific areas including academia, the Arts and digital technology.

Different business structures

When starting a commercial enterprise, it's important to understand the different legal structures available. The most common set-ups include the following:

  • Sole trader - there is no legal distinction between the owner and the enterprise and is considered one entity for tax purposes.
  • Partnerships - similar to sole traders but have two or more owners who share profits and losses.
  • Limited company - this is a separate legal entity from its owners, limiting personal liability for debts and protecting assets in case of bankruptcy.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) - this combines elements of both partnerships and limited companies by providing individual partners with protection from any debts incurred by other partners while still preserving their right to operate in a flexible partnership structure.

Each formation has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of taxation, liability, management control, reporting requirements, and more. Therefore, it's essential to consider all of these aspects before choosing the one that suits your goals best.

Register the company

Once you have decided on the company structure, the next step is to register the company with Companies House. This is the UK’s official company registrar. If you are opening a UK branch of a company you already run in another country, you must register that UK branch.

You must provide details including the company's name, registered office address within the UK, and directors' information regardless of whether they are UK residents or non-residents. It's worth noting that some companies, such as charities, require additional registration with regulatory bodies including the Charity Commission.

You will also be required to provide certain documentation, such as proof of identity, proof of address, as well as information regarding your trade activities. You may have to obtain a licence or permit to operate.

Understanding UK Corporate Taxes

If you're planning to establish a corporation in the UK as a non-resident, it's important to have a solid understanding of UK taxes. As a non-resident, you may still be subject to UK income tax on any profits you make from your UK trade. Additionally, your company may also be subject to UK Corporation Tax depending on how it is structured.

You must obtain a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) for yourself and your company. You will also need to appoint a UK-based tax agent to handle annual returns and other financial obligations. The UK has a corporate duty rate of 19%, which should be considered when you develop your company's business plan.

To minimize your tax liability as a non-resident entrepreneur in the UK, it's essential to seek professional advice from an experienced advisor. They can help you to understand the available duty reliefs and exemptions that you may be eligible for and guide you in applying for them.

Hiring Employees

As a non-resident entrepreneur, if you intend to employ staff, you must have a visa and so will any non-resident employees. You'll also need to comply with the employment laws in the UK and the legal requirements for employers. These include the minimum wage laws, employee contracts, and pension auto-enrolment.

You have responsibilities to provide fair pay and working conditions, as well as providing your eligible employees with the appropriate benefits and protections.


Establishing a non-resident enterprise in the UK requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, including the right to work, company structure, taxation, employment laws, insurance, and the local market. By following these steps and seeking professional advice from accountants or legal consultants, non-resident entrepreneurs can navigate the complexities of setting up a company in the UK and tap into its lucrative market.


How to know what business structure to use

Before deciding what type of enterprise you want to start in the UK, you must have a clear idea of what you are going to do.
HowTo step image

1. Focus on your experience and interests

Choose something you’re familiar with. You need to be knowledgeable if you wish to succeed.

1 sur 3
Become an entrepreneur with HelloPrimo.

A team of experts will get you the answers you need to get started with your business.

Frequently asked question

Is it mandatory for companies to enrol workers into a pension scheme?
What documents do I need to open a UK Corporate Bank Account?

Topics in
virtual office

Define your needs and find the right solution for your project
Get Started
logo HelloPrimo newsletter
No noise. Just signal.
Get the latest news in business dropped to your email once a month.