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Welcome to your UK expansion guide

Whether you've decided on the UK or you're still exploring your options, your free guide will take you through what you need to know.

You'll find a checklist of things you'll need to consider when you're setting up, and a personalised guide tailored for your sector.

Sign up to our free self-service tool to access a personalised guide that's tailored to your expansion plans.


Checklist for UK expansion

Topics you may need to know more about and tasks you may need to complete.

Set up your business

Choose how you'll operate, and register your company in as little as a day.

You could operate as a private limited UK company, an overseas branch of your existing company, or perhaps a joint venture with a UK business. You'll need to choose before registering.

You must register your company with Companies House, the government organisation responsible for registration of companies in the UK, if you want to set up a place of business in the UK.

Read our guide on how to set up and register your business

Apply for visas

There are several different types of work visa, and most take around 3 weeks for a decision.

The type of visa you can apply will depend on your circumstances.

You can set up a business with an Innovator Founder visa.

If you're a representative of an overseas business planning to set up its first UK branch, you should apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa.

Check if you need a visa on GOV.UK

Find out how to apply for a visa in the UK

Open a business bank account

You can get a digital account in a matter of hours, or a full business account in 1 to 3 months.

A UK bank account gives your business credibility and is simpler and cheaper than making overseas bank transfers. Apply for a digital account with a fintech bank, or a full business account from a traditional bank (allow 4 weeks to 3 months for final approval).

Learn more about how to choose and set up a UK bank account

Register for tax and claim tax allowances

You'll need to set up to pay Corporation Tax and check for other tax obligations.

Corporation Tax

If your business is based in the UK, you must pay Corporation Tax on all profits from the UK and abroad.

If your business isn't based in the UK but has an office or branch here, you will only pay Corporation Tax on profits from UK activities.

You'll need to register to pay tax within 3 months of starting to do business. This includes buying, selling, advertising, renting a property and employing someone.

Value Added Tax

You must register for Value Added Tax (VAT) with HMRC if your business' taxable turnover is more than £85,000. You'll need to do this within 30 days of the end of the month when you went over this amount.

VAT is a tax added to most products and services sold by VAT-registered businesses.

Read our guide on how to register for UK taxes and claim tax allowances

Know UK employment regulations

You'll need to be aware of UK employment law and your duties as a UK employer.

Read our guide on how to employ people in the UK

You need a sponsor licence, valid for 4 years, to hire most eligible employees from outside the UK.

Apply for a sponsor licence on GOV.UK

Register as an employer

Setting up a payroll with HM Revenue and Customs can take up to 3 weeks.

This is the amount of time it can take to receive an employer Pay As You Earn (PAYE) reference number.

As an employer, you usually have to set up PAYE as part of your payroll. This system collects Income Tax and National Insurance via UK employers.

You must register before your first business payday.

Register as an employer with HM Revenue and Customs on GOV.UK

Recruit expert talent

There's a range of resources available to help you recruit the right people.

From government schemes to where to advertise, find out more about how to recruit expert talent.

The recruitment process can take on 4 to 12 weeks on average, from advertising to onboarding.

Find the right location and premises

Once you've found a property, it can take as little as 1 week to lease or 1 to 4 months to buy one.

A suitable location near to customers, staff and supply chains, is important to your success in the UK.

You can find a range of premises to suit your business including leased offices, co-working spaces and science parks.

Read our guide on how to find the right business property

Learn more about the UK's nations and regions

Find professional help to locate in the UK

Get business insurance

You'll need to obtain cover for various parts of your business.

You must get Employers' Liability insurance as soon as you become an employer. UK law also requires you to have third party motor insurance if you use a vehicle for business purposes.

Other things which might have to be insured includes assets, income, liabilities and people.

Employers' Liability Insurance on GOV.UK

Find professional advice on business insurance

It can take around 2 weeks to 1 month to arrange business insurance.

Your personalised guide

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Finance and support

Find out about getting access to finance, plus the financial incentives and support available when you set up your business in the UK.

Don't forget to share your contact details to keep up to date with our personalised service. You may be eligible for 1 to 1 support. Sign up.

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