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United Kingdom




The United Kingdom has one of the most successful economies in the EU. It attracts more inward investment from Asia and the US than any other EU country, securing almost a quarter of all investment into Europe in 2003, according to Ernst & Young. This success is reflected in the number of foreign companies that have expanded into the UK. You can be part of it. Find out how easy it is to set up a British company by taking a look at our company formation service.

Our company formation service makes it easy for you to open a company in the UK, so please contact us for further details.

Why is the UK so popular among foreign investors?

Investors have cited a number of reasons for choosing the UK, including these:

  • size of the market - it is the world's 4th largest economy
  • strong currency - the pound has performed better than the Euro
  • location and language - a natural point of entry into the EU
  • government policy - the UK has a liberal business environment

At the same time, it should be noted that the UK doesn't have a particularly attractive tax regime - full corporate income tax is 30% - and there are few general incentives.

What are the main types of company in the UK?

These are the most popular structures for foreign companies entering the UK:

  • private limited company (Ltd)
  • public limited company (Plc)
  • branch of a foreign company
  • limited liability partnership

What are the main features of a private limited company?

  • by far the most popular format for foreign investors
  • only one shareholder needed, ideal for wholly-owned subsidiary
  • no minimum capital requirement
  • minimum one director and a company secretary
  • accounts to be filed annually

What are the main features of a Plc?

  • the minimum share capital for a Plc is £50,000
  • at least 25% of the share capital must be paid up
  • minimum of two directors and a company secretary
  • financial statement to be audited if turnover exceeds £1m

What are the main features of a branch?

  • foreign parent responsible for all liabilities of UK branch
  • branch required to register with Companies House
  • parent company accounts to be filed annually

What are the main features of a limited liability partnership?

  • at least two members, each with limited liability
  • fairly new format but increasingly used for joint ventures
  • same registration and disclosure requirements as limited company
  • other types of partnership are possible, but rarely used by foreign companies

How easy is it to recruit staff in the UK?

Despite a steady fall in unemployment over the past decade, foreign companies will find little difficulty in recruiting local staff. British workers are generally well educated and motivated and able to adapt to different management styles. There is a thriving recruitment sector in the UK, and we will be happy to help if you require advice on this, please contact us.

What is the regulatory environment like?

The UK government places a priority on attracting investment from abroad, and has sought to ensure that the regulatory environment is as liberal as possible. There are very few restrictions on foreign ownership or investment, although certain sectors, such as financial services, are strictly regulated to protect the consumer. The authorities also enforce laws guarding against the abuse of monopoly powers.

Are there financial incentives available?

Financial incentives are available for companies investing in specific areas and sectors. Grants may be provided to assist job-creating investment in certain areas of the UK, mainly outside London and the south east. Other incentives take the form of research and development grants, technical assistance for exports, and export credit guarantees.

And what about banking facilities?

The City of London is one of the world's foremost financial centers, and banks from most countries have offices here. The UK offers sophisticated banking facilities to the business community, but the process of opening an account can be time-consuming. We can help you cut through the red tape - our bank account page will explain how.

Our company formation service makes it easy for you to open a company in the UK, so please contact us for further details.

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