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Expand your business in the UK

Use the checklist to understand what steps you might need to complete to expand your business in the UK

  1. Step 1

    You need to choose how your company will operate before you register it. 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 must register an overseas company with Companies House if you want to set up a place of business in the UK.

    1. Set up and register your business

    Time it takes

    Can be as little as one day

  2. Step 2

    You can apply for different types of visa depending on your circumstances. These include:

    1. Representative of an Overseas Business visa when transferring an employee from overseas to set up a new UK operation
    2. Start-up visa for early-stage entrepreneurs
    3. Innovator visa for established entrepreneurs, or if you’re switching from the start-up visa
    1. How to apply for a visa

    Time it takes

    Timing dependent on visa type

  3. Step 3

    To trade in the UK, you'll need a UK bank account. This gives your business credibility and is simpler and cheaper than making overseas bank transfers.

    1. How to choose and set up a UK bank account

    Time it takes

    1. Digital account with a fintech bank - as quick as 2 hours
    2. Full business bank accounts - takes 4 weeks to 3 months for final approval
  4. Step 4

    Corporation Tax

    His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will use your information to work out when your company must pay Corporation Tax. This is usually within 3 months of starting your business.

    Corporation Tax is the main tax that a limited company must pay. It should be paid both on the company's profits and on any gains from selling assets that have increased in value.

    1. Register for Corporation Tax on GOV.UK

    Value Added Tax

    You must register for Value Added Tax (VAT) with HMRC if your business’ taxable turnover is more than £85,000.

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

    1. How to register for tax and claim tax allowances

    Time it takes

    3 to 4 weeks

  5. Step 5

    As an employer, you usually have to operate Pay As You Earn (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.

    1. Register as an employer with HMRC

    Time it takes

    Around 3 weeks

  6. Step 6

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

    1. How to find a business property
    2. Find professional help to locate in the UK

    Time it takes

    1. Rental can take less than 1 week to sign a lease
    2. Buying property takes from 1 to 4 months
  7. Step 7

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

    1. How to employ people
    2. Register as an employer with HMRC

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

    1. Apply for a sponsor licence on GOV.UK

    Time it takes

    Usually 6 to 8 weeks, but may be up to 16 weeks for more senior posts

  8. Step 8

    Once you have decided to employ staff, there are several resources available to help you recruit expert talent.

    1. Find expert talent

    Time it takes

    4 to 12 weeks

  9. Step 9

    You must get Employers’ Liability (EL) 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.

    1. Employer’s Liability Insurance on GOV.UK
    2. Professional advice on business insurance

    Time it takes

    Two weeks to one month

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