Expanding into the UK – all you need to know when starting a business in the UK

Thames and london

The UK is ranked as one of the best locations for businesses looking to expand internationally. Starting a business in the UK can be challenging, but with the right set of tools and knowledge, it’s a great place for business opportunities. The global environment, ease of doing business and strong market potential are of particular interest for overseas companies starting up in the UK.

When setting up a company in the UK, there are a number of registration requirements, regulations and obligations that need to be taken into account. This article highlights the most important things to consider when expanding your business into the UK.

  1. Legal Structures for Market Entry
  2. Set up and Registration
  3. Opening a Bank Account
  4. Understand UK Regulations
  5. UK Taxation
  6. Complying with UK Employment Law
  7. Expand to the UK With Goodwille
  8. Useful Contacts for Your Business

business men making choices

Legal Structures for Market Entry

When setting up in the UK, there are several legal structures to choose from. The company structure most suitable to you will depend on your type of business, where you are based and whether you have employees on board or not. Below are some of the most common legal structures in the UK;

  • Limited company
  • Branch office
  • Limited liability partnership (LLP)
  • Sole trader
  • Partnership

Limited Company/Subsidiary

Limited company (LTD) is the most common form of business entity in the UK. A LTD company is a separate legal entity, owned by shareholders and managed by directors. The profits of a limited company are liable for UK corporation tax. Setting up an LTD company in the UK is a well-recognised structure that is quick and cost-effective to complete. With share capital starting at just £1, and with the risk contained within the subsidiary company, this is often the preferred route for international businesses expanding into Great Britain.

Branch

An international company may consider registering a branch office in the UK, rather than a LTD company. A branch office is not a separate legal entity from the head office company and full responsibility for the operations, debts and liabilities of the UK branch lie on the overseas parent company.

To learn more about the best option for you when expanding to the UK, check out the differences between a UK branch and a subsidiary.

Set-up and registration

A company can typically be registered with Companies House in 48 hours once all documents are completed. A UK company must register for corporation tax with HMRC, within three months of starting to trade. The paperwork for registration is not too extensive, however, certain statutory documents will be required. Check out our comprehensive company registration services.

woman hand calculating expenses

Opening a Bank account

In order to make any transactions, you’ll need to open a UK bank account for your business. Opening a bank account is a time-consuming process as you will need to go through a money laundering process to ensure your company is credible for a corporate bank account. Therefore, prepare to have time and patience for this stage, it can easily take up to six months or more to complete.

Check if your bank in the company’s home country has any operations in the UK. In some cases, this might speed up the process, as it may prove some creditworthiness for the business.

regulations represented with wooden blocks

Understand UK Regulations

The regulatory system in the UK is open and transparent, making it easy to do business. In general, the UK aims to minimise bureaucracy and deregulate marketplaces in order to allow companies to develop and expand. However, there are strict regulations e.g. with regards to employment, industrial emissions, pollution monitoring and control, and waste disposal. Make sure you are aware of the regulations that directly or indirectly affect your business!

All businesses operating in the UK are subject to UK law, and every company registered in the UK must have a registered address in the UK. By law, all UK companies must file their annual accounts with Companies House within nine months of the end of an accounting period. Additionally, a confirmation statement must be filed with Companies House every 12 months (within 28 days of the anniversary of incorporation).

To get all the details in order and prepare for the regulatory areas, you should look for specialist advice. Our Corporate Governance Services can help you comply with any regulations or business’ obligations in the UK.

UK Taxation

Foreign businesses looking at overseas business opportunities in the UK will find a competitive and business-friendly tax regime. Companies need to consider their exposure to UK taxation, including corporate income tax, value-added tax (VAT) and employment taxes.

Companies may become subject to UK taxation in a number of ways, such as

  • Establishing a formal taxable presence in the UK, such as a branch or Ltd company, and making a profit.
  • Registering a company for VAT in the UK. Companies must be registered for VAT if their taxable turnover for any 12 months period is £85,000 or over. The current standard VAT rate in the UK is 20%.

It’s important to remember that an international business operating in the UK do not necessarily create a taxable presence in the UK. In order to be subject to UK corporation income taxation, an overseas business needs to be trading in the UK through a permanent establishment. Check out our comprehensive outsourced financial services and to find out more about when you may need to register an entity in the UK, please contact us.

department for work and pensions

Complying With UK Employment Law

When employing people in the UK, you need to be aware of several regulations within UK employment law. To start with, make sure your employees have the right to work in the UK (that they hold a valid UK/EU passport or work permit/visa) and a NIN (National Insurance Number) for the deduction of taxes. Also, remember to follow the guidelines for UK employment contracts and provide these within 8 weeks of starting the employment.

In addition, you need to register you employees into a PAYE scheme (Pay-As-You-Earn: social costs of employment including income tax and National Insurance) and organise relevant company insurances. Every employer in the UK must also enrol their employees into the workplace’s pension scheme within three months after the start of the employment.

In terms of the remuneration, you must ensure the employees are paid at least the National Minimum Wage in the UK. As the recruitment market in the UK is highly competitive, also make sure your remuneration package is attractive enough and fits into the scope of the role.

If you are recruiting in the UK, you may want to turn to specialists who can help you with all the employer regulations and responsibilities you need to consider in the UK. Goodwille’s HR Department deals with these issues daily and are happy to help if you have any questions regarding UK employment.

uk flag over london

Expand to the UK With Goodwille

The UK market provides great opportunities for expanding your business, however, starting up a business in the UK is a challenging process full of regulations. In order to get the set-up processes and ongoing compliance right, it’s good to turn to professionals who are able to provide you with advice and all the necessary help you need to get your business operations up and running correctly from the start.

If you are a foreign-owned business looking to expand into the UK, either through setting up a UK subsidiary or employing staff in the UK, Goodwille can help you to get the inside track. We have helped businesses expand into the UK for 20 years, and are experienced in Corporate Governance, Finance, HR, Payroll and Virtual Office services in the UK. With a track record of supporting almost 2,000 businesses, we have extensive experience to help you grow your business. Get in touch with us today, if you are planning to expand to the UK or have any questions regarding the UK market.


Useful contacts for your business

When expanding your business to the UK, there are many organisations you may find useful.

Networking-wise, it’s good to get know your local chamber of commerce and see if their network is worth accessing. For example, Finnish-British Chamber of Commerce and Swedish Chamber of Commerce provide good opportunities for professional networking.

Also, when developing your strategy for the new market, Department of International Trade (DIT) provides free advisory and supports companies with their UK strategy and planning.

Coronavirus update: Message from our CEO

Dear Goodwille Community,

Due to the recent developments of COVID-19 and with the health of our employees, their family and the wider community in mind, as of this week all Goodwille employees will work from home, and the Goodwille offices will be temporarily closed until further notice.

I am confident that the Goodwille infrastructure which has enabled us to work remotely for many years will continue to work seamlessly, and this decision will not impact the delivery of work to your business. All channels through which you would normally contact the team, except in person, will remain operational.

Whilst there remains a significant amount of uncertainty around the impact Coronavirus will have on businesses, both large and small, I want to reassure you that we will support you through these challenging times and will keep you updated as government support becomes available. Our team’s knowledge of this topic is constantly expanding, and I would encourage you to engage with them if you have questions about how you can minimise the impact on your business.

Whilst I am confident the changes will have little to no impact on many of your businesses, we wanted to summarise some key points below:

Visitors & Communication

On Friday 13th March we closed our offices to visitors, and the offices will remain closed until further notice. For clients wanting to communicate face-to-face we encourage the use of Microsoft Teams in the meantime to liaise with Goodwille employees. All phone numbers (020 7795 8100 and 01926 405 511) will be answered as normal.

Virtual Office & Mail Handling Clients

Clients who have mail handling services, and specifically those who collect their mail from the London or Warwick reception, can expect their main contact to be in touch shortly to discuss alternative arrangements, which may involve mail scanning during this period. We are currently unable to allow the face-to-face collection of mail from our offices, nor the collection or delivery of parcels.

There will be no disruption at present where the mail received is acted upon by Goodwille (Corporate Legal, Finance etc). Clients with telephone answering services will not be affected by remote working.

Working from Home

As of Wednesday 18th March, all Goodwille employees will be home based until further notice. Whilst this should run seamlessly, the large number of people working remotely globally has already put pressures on some communication systems this week. We do not envisage this being an issue but would ask for some understanding should situations outside of our control occur.

Support & Advice

We remain committed to providing you the best level of service during these challenging times. If you are concerned or have any questions about how this may impact our ability to deliver work to you, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. If you require support around grants or funding available to SMEs, please read our post here or reach out directly to a member of our team.

We are committed to ensuring you receive the level of support your business needs during this challenging time,

Take care and stay safe
Alexander Goodwille,
CEO

We’re Recruiting – Marketing Executive

Goodwille provide essential business services to overseas companies looking to enter, grow or scale in the UK. These services include Corporate Legal, Finance, Human Resources, Payroll & Virtual Offices.

We are currently looking for an ambitious Marketing Executive, fluent in a Nordic language (preferably Swedish or Norwegian), to join our Marketing and Business Development team. Within your role you will be responsible for;

  • Managing, developing & growing our social media presence
  • Writing stories & articles in English for online distribution
  • Owning internal communication across the two sites
  • Managing the CSR initiative
  • Organising events & seminars, in the UK & internationally
  • Proactively growing our network across the UK & Nordic countries
  • Promoting Goodwille to fast growing Nordic businesses looking at entering the UK
  • Representing Goodwille at networking events

Although not a prerequisite, anyone that can demonstrate experience working with Photoshop or inDesign, along with experience in graphic design would be advantageous. You should be able to demonstrate experience working across social media channels, preferably within a B2B organisation.

In addition to your main role as a Marketing Executive you will also be expected to support the close-knit marketing department with varied day-to-day tasks across the marketing mix. Reporting to the Marketing Manager but working day-to-day alongside another Marketing Executive you will be expected to confidently work independently, to manage your time and proactively develop your projects. As you grow in the role there is the opportunity to mould and develop the role into a position you find stimulating.

In joining us you will become part of a modern, forward-thinking and inclusive organisation, capable of offering an environment in which to accelerate your career in marketing & communications.

This is your chance to join #TeamGoodwille – check us out on Instagram. When you join Goodwille you get access to a whole range of employee benefits, all designed to ensure an enjoyable work/life balance. Some benefits for all employees include:

  • Office fruit every week
  • Employee perks, rewards & benefits including discounts on supermarkets (Sainsburys, Tesco etc) high street stores (Topshop, John Lewis etc) & gyms.
  • Office massages twice yearly
  • Complimentary phone insurance, as we know how important it is to stay connected
  • Access to a well-being & lifestyle platform, including eating advice, exercise routines and yoga videos
  • Generous social budget, for team lunches, parties or for you to hang out with colleagues.

Job type: Permanent, full time
Location: Kensington, West London
Salary: Depending on experience/skill set
Date: Immediate start

If you like the sound of this vacancy and all the features and benefits you get by being part of a team like Goodwille, then please contact james.service@goodwille.com
www.goodwille.com

Brexit Timeline of Events

23rd June 2016

The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum takes place, commonly known as the Brexit referendum. It results in 51.9 per cent of votes being in favour of leaving.

29th March 2017

The at-the-time Prime Minister Theresa May trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, which begins the UK’s withdrawal.

29th March 2019

The initial Brexit day, when the UK was originally set to leave the EU. However, the process is delayed as the Withdrawal Agreement drafted and negotiated by the then Prime Minister Theresa May was not approved in the British Parliament.

7th June 2019

Theresa May announces she will resign as Prime Minister.

23rd July 2019

Boris Johnson is elected new leader of the Conservative party.

24th July 2019

Boris Johnson becomes the new Prime Minister of the UK.

31st October 2019

The UK is supposed to leave the EU, but the departure is yet again delayed.

12th December 2019

General election in the UK.

13th December 2019

The results of the General election are announced.

31st January 2020

Brexit day. The UK is set to leave the EU on this date.

Want to keep up with the latest updates on the Brexit discussions?
Subscribe to Goodwille’s Brexit Newsletter to receive the latest news straight to your inbox! 


This update is for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be obtained in all cases. This material is the copyright of Goodwille Limited (unless otherwise stipulated) and is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.

We’re recruiting – Financial Assistant

Goodwille provide essential business services to overseas companies looking to enter, grow or scale in the UK. These services include Corporate Legal, Finance, Human Resources, Payroll & Virtual Offices.

We are currently looking for a Financial Assistant to join our Finance team in London. As a Financial Assistant at Goodwille, you will work along the Financial Controllers to support our large client base of international clients, mainly from the Nordics and central Europe, with their day-to-day UK Finances, as well as ensuring efficient and effective processes within the Finance team.

You will be responsible for:

  • Posting purchase invoices onto systems (various software)
  • Checking supplier statements and request copy invoices
  • Reconcile accounts payable to the creditor’s control account in general ledger and the accounts receivable to the debtor’s control account
  • Updating accounts payable with new suppliers
  • Raising & posting sales invoices
  • Updating sales ledgers with new customers
  • Various reconciliations of general ledger accounts
  • Checking expenses, credit card and petty cash and ensuring correct authorisation
  • Reconciling payroll and pension accounts
  • Supporting the Payroll Manager with processing of client payrolls
  • Working with and updating Goodwille’s Standard Operating Procedures
  • Setting up payments within agreed routines and across various banks

To excel in this role, you should be a team player with great attention to detail. Being organised, motivated by working towards deadlines and proactive in reaching out to clients with an excellent client service manner is essential. We are a small but strong and diverse team, so being sociable, engaging and communicative is important as we put a lot of emphasis on team and company culture.

The ideal candidate should have at least 6 months experience from a similar role, but we are happy to train anyone with the right attitude and aspirations. We believe that you are interested in pursuing a career in finance, and will support training for an AAT qualification. International or cross-border experience would be an advantage, as many of our clients are based outside the UK.

In joining us, you will become part of a modern, forward-thinking and inclusive organisation, capable of offering a stimulating environment in which to accelerate your career in finance and accounting.

This is your chance to join #TeamGoodwille – check us out on Instagram. When you join Goodwille you get access to a whole range of employee benefits, all designed to ensure an enjoyable work/life balance. Some benefits for all employees include:

  • Office fruit every week
  • Employee perks, rewards & benefits including discounts on supermarkets (Sainsbury’s, Tesco etc.) high street stores (Topshop, John Lewis etc.) & gyms
  • Office massages twice yearly
  • Complimentary phone insurance, as we know how important it is to stay connected
  • Access to the well-being & lifestyle platform, including eating advice, exercise routines and yoga videos
  • Generous social budget, for team lunches, parties and for you to hang out with colleagues

Job type: Permanent, full time
Location: Kensington, West London
Salary: Depending on experience/skill set

If you like the sound of this vacancy and all the features and benefits you get by being part of a team like Goodwille, then please contact kevin.rutter@goodwille.com.
www.goodwille.com

We’re Recruiting – Corporate Legal Controller

Goodwille provide essential business services to overseas companies looking to enter, grow or scale in the UK. These services include Corporate Legal, Finance, Human Resources, Payroll & Virtual Offices.

We are currently looking for an experienced Corporate Legal Controller to join our Corporate Legal team in London. As a Corporate Legal Controller at Goodwille, you will manage your own portfolio of clients and work closely with the Head of Department to deliver new/existing services and grow the business.

Key responsibilities include

  1. Legal
    • Provide point of reference for initial legal advice of clients
    • Provide corporate legal service offering, including;
      • Drafting corporate agreements
      • Share option schemes registration
      • Corporate restructure support
    • Liaise with and further develop relationships with Professional Support Partners
    • Staying updated on legal developments and changes to UK laws and regulations and assist with the development of CoSec bulletin on legal developments
  2. Compliance
    • Performance of Company Secretarial role (incorporations and statutory filings, HMRC registrations)
    • Work with the KYC/compliance team and optimising existing processes
    • Provide point of reference for compliance team and oversee day-to-day work
    • Ensuring application of best practices as required by client profiles
  3. Management
    • Assist the head of department in managing the CoSec team’s daily processes and long-term development
    • Mentoring and coaching members of department
    • Possibility to drive clients’ legal business development
    • Project development in accordance with legal requirements and market sentiments
  4. New Client Acquisition
    • Taking an active part in winning new business, and developing existing relationships
    • Represent the department and company at networking events

To succeed in this role, you should be educated to degree level, preferably in a legal or business discipline with further Company Secretary qualifications (e.g. ICSA, MSC Corporate Governance). We believe that you have experience of working in an international environment and coaching/supervising team member. Experience of client relationship management and technical company secretarial know-how, as well as experience working with company secretarial software (preferably Blueprint OneWorld) is essential. While fluency in English is a must, being able to speak an additional (Nordic) would be an advantage.

We are a strong and diverse team, so being sociable and engaging is important as we put a lot of emphasis on team and company culture. This is a client-facing role, so being communicative with a high level of cultural awareness and the ability to build and develop new and existing relationships with clients and partners is highly valued.

In joining us, you will become part of a modern and inclusive organisation, capable of offering a stimulating environment where you will be working with a diverse range of client companies and given the opportunity to develop the team and department which you will be part of.

This is your chance to join #TeamGoodwille – check us out on Instagram. When you join Goodwille you get access to a whole range of employee benefits, all designed to ensure an enjoyable work/life balance. Some benefits for all employees include:

  • Office fruit every week
  • Employee perks, rewards & benefits including discounts on supermarkets (Sainsbury’s, Tesco etc.), high street stores (Topshop, John Lewis etc.) & gyms
  • Office massages twice yearly
  • Complimentary phone insurance, as we know how important it is to stay connected
  • Access to the well-being & lifestyle platform, including eating advice, exercise routines and yoga videos
  • Generous social budget for team lunches, parties and for you to hang out with colleagues

Job type: Permanent, full time
Location: Kensington, West London
Salary: Depending on experience/skill set

If you like the sound of this vacancy and all the features and benefits you get by being part of a team like Goodwille, then please contact vidou.motee@goodwille.com.
www.goodwille.com

What Comes Next? The Business Analysis of ‘No-Deal’

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has examined the ‘no-deal’ preparations made by the UK government, the European Commission, Member States and companies in 27 areas of the UK-EU relationship that are most important to business.

They recently published a report on ‘no-deal’ readiness, including the table below (pages 9-10). Please click on the table to get to the original report for further reading.


This update is for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be obtained in all cases. This material is the copyright of Goodwille Limited (unless otherwise stipulated) and is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.

Boris Johnson on Brexit – One Week In

Delivering Brexit is the number one priority for Boris Johnson. He has repeatedly pledged that a ‘no-deal’ exit would be preferable to another extension. During his first speech as Prime Minister, he stated: ‘We are going to fulfil the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the EU on 31st October, no ifs or buts’.

When his predecessor Theresa May was in office, a Withdrawal Agreement (WA) between the UK and the EU that would settle how the British would leave the Union was drafted and negotiated. The WA is close to 600 pages long. Some key points include:

  • A transition period of 21 months – in which the UK must abide by all EU rules;
  • A financial settlement, the so called “divorce bill” – to be paid by the UK to the EU;
  • Citizens’ rights – UK citizens in the EU-, and EU citizens in the UK will retain their residency and social rights after Brexit;
  • Northern Ireland/the backstop – an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

To date, the WA has been rejected three times by the British Parliament. The issue regarding the Irish backstop was one major reason why Theresa May could not get the agreement through Parliament. Although the EU consistently has said it is unwilling to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, Boris Johnson is confident that a better deal, one that the British Parliament will adopt, can be negotiated. He has for example stated that he believes the issue of the Irish border will be better dealt with after the UK has left the EU.

However, even if the EU were willing to consider the changes requested by the new PM, there is little time left. With less than 100 days left until 31st October 2019, the prospect of a no-deal exit is rising.


This update is for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be obtained in all cases. This material is the copyright of Goodwille Limited (unless otherwise stipulated) and is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.

How Could A ‘No-Deal Brexit’ Affect Goodwille’s Clients and Our Services?

It is impossible to go into every detail on how a ‘no-deal Brexit’ would affect Goodwille’s clients and our services, but one can start by categorising the possibilities in the sections below.

For clients based in one of the remaining Member States, the consequences of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ broadly fit into two categories. Firstly, the human aspect as there will be new rules to bring staff into the UK post Brexit. Secondly, the import/export side, affecting those with physical products or businesses operating in regulated markets. The latter will likely be hit the hardest with an increasing amount of paperwork and new systems related to importing goods from EU Member States to the UK (and, to a lesser extent, exporting from the UK to the remaining EU).

As we approach the 31st October deadline, companies that move goods into or out of the EU are once again facing the prospect of stockpiling. If not already done, it is important to check with delivery partners to ensure they are ready in the event of a ‘no-deal’. For goods trading companies, Goodwille has previously encouraged these clients to apply for a UK EORI number (please contact us if you require more details).

Companies in the service industry will likely only have to deal with changes to VAT reporting. This should be covered easily within the remit that Goodwille has with clients using Goodwille’s finance services.

Most impacted will be subsidiaries of EU companies in the UK. These are likely to face the biggest hurdle related to ‘no-deal’ planning. Nonetheless, companies from outside the EU may find the so-called “no-deal exit” less problematic, unless they use the UK to as a gateway to the EU market.

To ensure a continued presence within the EU after Brexit, Goodwille has been developing its network and we have secured partners in Ireland. We have established contacts with import specialists to make use of the TSP (Transitional Simplified Procedures). For clients wishing to bring staff into the UK, we have partnered with North Star Law to ensure expert immigration advisory services aiding with supported VISA applications to enter the UK. We have also partnered with relocation services businesses, which can be essential when it comes to moving a family to the UK smoothly.

Goodwille are currently supporting in the region of 400 subsidiary businesses in the UK, and the vast majority of these are headquartered in Northern & Central Europe.  Over the coming weeks (and months), as more information is released and it becomes clearer on the impact Brexit will have on foreign businesses ability to trade with the United Kingdom, then Goodwille will proactively keep our clients updated – you are in safe hands.


This update is for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be obtained in all cases. This material is the copyright of Goodwille Limited (unless otherwise stipulated) and is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.

About Boris Johnson

On Tuesday 23rd July 2019, Boris Johnson was elected new leader of the Conservative party in the United Kingdom. The following day, he became the 14th person invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a government. Johnson is thus the third British Prime Minister since the Brexit referendum that took place in June 2016.

Following the change of Tory PM, there has been a reshuffle of government. Johnson has described the new cabinet as a “cabinet for modern Britain”. It includes Dominic Raab, who is the new Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. Priti Patel has replaced Sajid Javid as Home Secretary, who in turn is the new Chancellor. Stephen Barclay remains Brexit Secretary.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born to British parents in 1964 in New York. His father is a former British Conservative Member of the European Parliament. Johnson therefore spent a couple of years of his childhood in Belgium. He was educated at Eton College and at the University of Oxford.

Prior to the referendum, Boris Johnson was one of the front figures of the Leave campaign who is believed to have contributed to the UK’s decisions to leave.

After Theresa May became Prime Minister in July 2016, she appointed Johnson Foreign Secretary. He resigned two years later. Between 2008 and 2016, Boris Johnson was Mayor of London. Prior to becoming a Member of Parliament, he worked as a political journalist for newspapers such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator.


This update is for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be obtained in all cases. This material is the copyright of Goodwille Limited (unless otherwise stipulated) and is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.