Register A UK Branch

If you run a business and you are looking to expand to the UK or set up a base of UK operations, one option you might wish to consider is to register a UK branch.

A UK branch is legally considered to be an extension of the originating overseas company. It has the freedom to strike deals and enter into sales and purchase contracts using the name of that company. A UK branch has to be allocated a permanent representative who will have the authority to sign documents on the overseas company’s behalf and that company will retain responsibility for any debts or other obligations incurred by the UK branch.

Setting up a UK branch offers a number of advantages. It can be a great launch pad from which to expand into the UK market, attracting new customers and building up brand awareness. It is a good way to get to know the local markets and work out whether your company can find a profitable niche there, and it is a thoroughly cost-efficient entity, carrying a smaller tax liability than a regular company due to its less turnover and reduced overheads.

When registering a UK branch, it is important to note that this entity is also sometimes referred to as a UK establishment, following the passing into law of the Overseas Companies Regulations of 2009. You may find UK branches referred to under the umbrella term of UK establishment in some UK government literature.

To set up a UK branch, it is first necessary to register your branch with Companies House, the UK registrar of companies. Any overseas company that creates a UK branch is required to give that branch a name, which may be the original company name or an alternative title under which it is planning to trade in the UK. It is often a good idea to seek advice from a company specialising in UK company registration before beginning the process, as the application form for registering a UK branch is relatively complex and you will also need to attach supporting documents, along with the relevant registration fee.

The supporting documents required by Companies House will usually include a certified copy of your company’s constitutional paperwork along with a translation into English – although this may depend on the particular disclosure requirements of your company. Companies House may also ask for a copy of your latest accounts, together with an English translation.

Once the registration has gone through, your company will have ongoing obligations to file and disclose certain information to Companies House. You will need to maintain a registered office address for your UK Branch for a year, and you will also be required to maintain the relevant statutory registers throughout the financial year, informing Companies House of any changes to your UK branch as they occur. A reputable company registration company will be able to advise you of your responsibilities in this area, as well as giving you guidance on your UK Branch Office’s statutory account filing obligations.

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