Top 9 things to consider when setting up a business in the UK

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Top 9 things to consider when setting up a business in the UK

You’re certainly not setting up here for the weather, so let’s discount that straight away…

Despite political uncertainty, the UK remains an attractive business destination for a number of industries. Whether you’re launching or expanding your company within Great Britain and Northern Ireland, here are a few things you need to know.

What to think about when setting up a UK office:

1. Brexit

Deal or no deal, Thursday 31st October looms large in the British calendar. Unfortunately, Brexit cannot be overlooked when deciding to launch or expand your business in the UK, and there remains many unanswered questions.

It’s likely to hit import and export businesses hard in the immediate aftermath, while tax, trademark law, and distance selling will all be affected.

Our advice? Put Brexit front and centre in your business plan, and leave no stone unturned.

2. Company structure

Setting up a Limited Company in the UK is quick and inexpensive. There’s no minimum capital requirements, and you only need one director and one shareholder.

There’s also no need for the named director(s) to live in the UK, although a UK bank account is recommended (more on that below).

As for mandatory considerations, you must register for payroll (this takes around 10 days and is easy to administer going forward) and you must register for VAT if your turnover is above the £85k threshold.

3. Bank account

It’s a good idea to open a UK business bank account for your company, as it’s typically cheaper when handling transactions in comparison to overseas bank transfers.

Opening a UK bank account is relatively straightforward, however it can take up to 3 months, so keep that in mind. All you need is your passport and two recent (within the last 3 months) utility bills to show your current home address. This does not need to be in the UK.  

4. Tax & funding

As it stands, the UK boasts a competitive tax landscape – however with the shadow of Brexit this could be subject to change. You can view the current Income Tax rates and bands here.

If you’re undertaking research and development (R&D) your company could be eligible for R&D tax credits. Small and medium-sized businesses can deduct an extra 130% of their qualifying costs from their annual profit.

In contrast with other countries in the EU and worldwide, UK government funding for businesses can be considered more limited and harder to come by. It’s a good idea to seek professional advice when pursuing funding for your new UK business.

5. Business premises

It’s always best to try before you buy when it comes to business premises, so look to lease property first as you dip your toe into the UK market.

You should note that you will have certain responsibilities as a tenant. You can read these here.

A typical commercial lease in the UK can run from anywhere between two and five years.

6. Employing people

If you’re hiring people as employees of your company, you must first be aware of the employment rights of employees in the UK. You can learn about those in more detail here.  

However, you may first wish to use freelancers or contractors instead as you seek to establish your business. If you go down this route, it’s vital that you make your working relationship clear via the terms of a contract. HMRC can come down hard on your business if you are operating with the wrong employment status.

You should also know that employees must be auto-enrolled into a pension scheme, with their contributions matched by your business.

7. Work Visas

As an extension of the last point, you may wish to bring your own people into the country to launch or operate your UK venture. This will require a work visa if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland .

If you’re sending someone to set-up a branch or subsidiary of your company, they will require a Sole Representative Visa. This lasts for 3 years, and can be extended for a further 2 years.

Other relevant visa types include:

8. Data protection

With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) last year, it’s crucial that you understand and undertake the necessary steps to protect your customer data.

GDPR applies to all businesses inside and outside the EU, which offer goods or services to EU citizens. Remember: Your company can be fined for breaching data protection laws.

9. Intellectual Property (IP)

If you’re launching or expanding your business into the UK, make sure you’ve taken the time to protect your IP and trademarks.

Speak with an IP professional to review your circumstances, and make the necessary applications well in advance of your proposed launch date. The process can take 3-4 months for UK protection only, and up to 6 months for EU-wide protection.

Ready to launch in the UK? We can help…

Those 9 considerations are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to launching a company in Britain. With over a century in business, we’ve seen it all, and we can help you get a firm footing in the UK marketplace. From business planning, tax, and financials, to introducing you to our extended network of professionals, we have every base covered.

If you’d like to find out more, or chat with one of the team, contact us today.