Register a company in the UK

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.

Last updated 22 October 2019

Your options

Setting up or expanding your business in the UK is straightforward. You can choose how your company operates.

If you want to incorporate a company as a separate legal entity in the UK, forming a private limited company is the most popular option.

You can also incorporate a company 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).

The online process to register (incorporate) a private limited company in the UK typically takes less than 24 hours.

Getting started

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 be an individual or another company

A company registering in the UK must have a ‘memorandum’ and an ‘articles of association’ document in place at the time of incorporation. You can use standard template documents, or professional advisers can create them on your company’s behalf.

It’s not a legal requirement to have a director or shareholder resident in the UK to set up a UK company. However, many banks will want you to have 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 give you information to help you set up your business in the UK. Contact us to find out more.

Many companies in the UK can also give you more specific advice and guidance on moving your business here.

Get help to set up or expand in the UK

Register a UK branch of an overseas 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 get the limited liability benefits of a UK limited company.

It takes longer to register a UK branch of an overseas company than registering a limited liability company because your company must submit documents and information to Companies House. It can take 4 weeks for these to be reviewed.

Read more about registering your overseas company in the UK.

Find a UK business law specialist

Brexit: what’s changed

There are no significant changes to the process of setting up a company in the UK. The UK does not apply any nationality restrictions to owners or managers of UK companies.

You can get more information on how the rules around running a company may change after EU Exit.

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Setting up a UK business