Registering a business in the UK

How to register a business in the UK? How long does it take to register a company in the UK, and what documents are needed for this? You will find answers to these and other questions in our article, where we have collected all the necessary information for doing business in England.

All companies in the UK are registered under the Companies Act 2006. The country has three separate legal systems, so there are separate registrars for Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. Although a company is registered in one of the UK jurisdictions, this does not limit its ability to trade or operate in other regions.

Many companies have offices and/or business addresses in different parts of the UK and abroad. This allows them to expand their business geographically, establish a regional and local presence, and attract a wider customer base.

Advantages of registering a company in the UK:

  • Stable economic growth;
  • Not considered an offshore, not included in the blacklists of offshore zones;
  • No language barrier;
  • Relatively simple and inexpensive procedure for registering a company
  • Ease of doing business;
  • Transparency of business, since information about the structure of the company is available in the register, its financial statements are visible;
  • Governmental support;
  • Access to global markets;
  • Low corporate tax rate – 19%.

Types of companies in the UK

Business registration is possible in the following forms:

Limited Company (Ltd): The most common type of company in the United Kingdom. This is a legal entity with limited liability, where the owner can simultaneously be a director. To open a Ltd in England you do not need to be a British citizen. The owners are not personally liable for the company's financial obligations.

There are two types of such commercial structures:

Limited by shares: This is one of the most popular types of companies in England, which allows you to run a profitable business and independently distribute income. Shareholders invest in the business, and their share of ownership and the amount of dividends they receive are determined depending on the size of the contribution.

Limited by guarantee company: This type of company is most often used for non-profit and charitable organizations. In such companies there are no shareholders, but there are guarantors who prefer to reinvest profits in the business rather than use it for personal needs.

In both cases, the financial liability of shareholders and guarantors is limited to the nominal value of the shares or a fixed amount invested in the company (guarantee).

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): A limited liability partnership is similar to a Limited Company, but in an LLP the members are partners. They also have limited liability for the company's debts to the extent of their share. To register an LLP, a minimum of two partners is required.

Sole Trader: Self-employment is the easiest way to start a business in the UK. You are the sole owner and operate the business yourself. However, unlike an Ltd or an LLP, you are solely responsible for the firm's financial obligations.

Public Limited Company (PLC): Incorporating a public limited company requires a minimum of two directors, two shareholders, a qualified company secretary and the issue of shares of at least £50,000, more than half of which must be paid up. Shareholders of a PLC have the opportunity to list shares on the stock exchange. The financial liability of the owners of this type of company in the UK is limited to the value of the shares they own.

Branch: A branch of a foreign company is a separate legal entity from the parent company, but must comply with certain reporting and taxation requirements under UK law.

In addition to those mentioned above, in the UK there are also Scottish limited partnerships, public limited companies, private companies limited by guarantee, private unlimited companies and not-for-profit companies. (charity).

Requirements for founders when registering a company in England

To open a business in England, founders must meet the following criteria:

  • Be over 16 years old;
  • Don't be bankrupt;
  • Minimum authorized capital from 1 pound;
  • Legal persons in England cannot be appointed as directors of a company.

Documents for registering a company in England

The procedure for registering companies in the UK has been simplified and a minimum package of documents is required:

  • Copy of the director's passport (first spread);
  • Three pieces of personal information about the director, founders and shareholders to choose from: year of birth, father's name, mother's maiden name, national insurance number, telephone number or passport number;
  • Information on the number of shares owned by shareholders;
  • Choosing the organizational and legal form of the company;
  • At least three options for the company name.

Procedure for opening a company in England

The process of starting a business in the UK includes the following stages:

  1. Determination of the company's activities.
  2. Checking the company name.
  3. Preparation of information and documents about founders and directors.
  4. Selection of registration address and office for the company.
  5. Company registration.
  6. Obtaining a tax number.
  7. Obtaining a license if the company’s activities require it.

Important: only persons of certain nationalities and residents of certain countries (including Ukraine) can open a company in England. You can view the list here: 

To register a company in the UK, you need a physical address in the United Kingdom, the authenticity of which is verified by the registration authorities. Typically, a registered agent is hired to resolve this issue.

Once registration is completed, you will receive a certificate of incorporation, articles of association and articles of association.

After opening a company, you are required to register for corporation tax in the UK within three months.

Timeframes for registering a company in the UK

Registering a company usually takes up to 7 business days, and obtaining a tax number usually takes up to 10 business days.

By contacting Antwort Law, you will benefit from the in-depth knowledge and experience of our specialists, which will ensure you have a successful and secure business registration in the UK.

Alina Natalushko

Antwort Law

What are the benefits of registering a company in the UK?
Registering a company in the UK has many advantages, including: Stable economic growth. Absence in black lists of offshore zones. The registration procedure is relatively simple and inexpensive. Business transparency thanks to accessible information about the company's structure and its financial reporting. State support and access to global markets. Low corporate tax rate - 19%.
What documents are required to register a company in England?
A minimum package of documents is required to register a company in England: A copy of the director's passport (first page). Three facts of personal information about directors, founders and shareholders (for example, year of birth, father's name, mother's maiden name, national insurance number, telephone number or passport number). Information on the number of shares owned by shareholders. Choice of organizational and legal form of the enterprise. At least three variants of the company name.
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