Opening a company in the United Kingdom


  • VISA:

Any non-UK resident wishing to set up a company is mostly required to have an Innovator Visa or a Start Up Visa.

There are, in fact, several types of visa allowing to open a company in the United Kingdom.

A)Innovator Visa:

  • This is the appropriate visa for the creation of an innovative company.
  • To obtain this visa, the applicant must be endorsed by an Innovator Endorsement Body.
  • This visa can last for up to 3 years.
  • The applicant needs to justify a minimum investment of £50,000 (GBP).
  • The applicant must prove that they have a budget of £1270 Pound Sterling (GBP) per 28 days (to prove that they have the necessary funds to live in this country).
  • Lastly, the visa fee is £1,021 GBP.
  1. Start Up Visa:
  • This is the appropriate visa for applicants who wish to bring a real added value to the British market by creating businesses which are different from anything else on the market.
  • The business must be endorsed by an endorsing body.
  • This visa can last for up to 2 years.
  • The visa fee is £308 (GBP).
  1. Other types of visa:

Otherwise, it is possible to opt for another types of visa.

  1. If the applicant is a leader or potential leader in their field:
  • The applicant must be eligible for the Global Talent visa if they are leaders or potential leaders in academia or research, arts or culture, or digital technology.
  • With this visa, it is possible to:
    • Start a business;
    • Be an employee, self-employed, or directed of a company; and
    • Work in the United Kingdom without a job offer.
  • Eligibility criteria: prove the status of leader or potential leader by applying for an ‘endorsement’.
  • This visa can last for up to 5 years.

It can be extended as long as the applicant is still eligible.

  • The applicant may be able to settle permanently in the United Kingdom after 3 years if they are leaders or after 5 years if they are potential leaders.
  1. If the applicant is setting up their company’s first UK branch or subsidiary:
  • The applicant must be eligible for a UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility) if they work for an overseas company and are planning to set up their first UK branch or subsidiary.
  • Eligibility criteria:
    • Working in an eligible job; and
    • Being paid a minimum salary (how much depends on the type of work).
  • This visa can last for up to 1 year.

It can be extended as long as the applicant’s is still eligible.

  1. If the applicant has a qualification from an eligible university:
  • The applicant may be eligible for a High Potential Individual (HPI) visa.
  • Eligibility criteria:
    • Having been awarded a qualification by an eligible university in the last 5 years; and
    • Proving that the applicant can read, write, speak, and understand English.
  • This visa can last for 2 years.

If the applicant has a PhD or another doctoral qualification, this visa will last for 3 years.

If the applicant wants to stay longer, they must switch to another type of visa.


Several steps are necessary to start such a company:

  • Choose the company’s name and its management staff (CEO and secretary);
  • Appoint the shareholders and the guarantor;
  • Choose the PSC (people with significant control) who will hold more than 25% of the shares;
  • Draft the articles and memorandums of association;
  • Register the company at Companies House (it is required to have an address and a SIC code that determines the scope of the company’s activity);

Registration costs £12 (GBP) and is usually done within 24 hours; and

  • Register as a future payer of the Corporate Tax on the HMRC (Her Majesty’s    Revenue and Customs).


  • Business profits are taxed at 19%.
  • Self-employed persons are subject to income tax.
  • A business owner must pay social security contributions of 12% for employees paid less than £4,190 per month. Above that, the rate is 2%.

Lawfirm Cabinet BRAHIN

Nicolas BRAHINI Avocat

Master’s Degree in Banking and Financial Law

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