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Can a Non-UK Resident Form a Limited Company?

In the UK, a foreign national can form a limited company in the same way as a British national. The process of setting up your company is exactly the same. You'll need to make sure you register your company with Companies House , and — in some cases — you can get your company operating in as little as a day. The main stumbling block some foreign nationals experience when setting up a limited company in the UK is dealing with banks and banking.

You will need a UK bank account for your company, which may involve a bit of travel to and from the UK to set up appointments with banks and get everything arranged. A workaround is to open a bank account in your country of residence, as long as you make it clear that this bank account is for a trading company in the UK. Having a UK bank account will, however, make operating your company far more straightforward. Some UK banks may request that a company director visit their branch in person before enabling them to open a business account. So you should be prepared to clock up a few air miles while getting established.

If you are registering your first UK limited company, you will need to provide certified copies of the company's accounts and constitution documents and submit these to Companies House. These must be translated into English.

The Benefits of Forming a Limited Company in the UK

Setting up a limited company in the UK when you are a non-UK resident is a big decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. It does, however, offer your company a prime position in one of the world's most secure and major economies — especially as the pound is such a strong currency. As a UK business, you have multiple options for trade. Your company also falls under UK rather than EU laws. You have the freedom to set up your company in either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland — the jurisdiction is exactly the same wherever your company is based.

Setting up Your Limited Company

When you set up a limited company in the UK, you should initially decide where you want to be based. You will need to determine a registered office address. This is the address you will report to Companies House. If you want to have multiple locations for your business, that's also possible, but you will need to decide which will be your sole registered office. You can also have a PO box, but you must have a physical postcode. This postcode will be available on the online register.

Create a structure for your limited company by drafting a business plan that optimises growth. Think about how many staff you will need to employ, business expenses, commercial rent, where you will be based, your tax accounts and the general financing of your business. When you have planned this out, you must register your company name, which must be unique and different from any other competitor on the market. Note that if your company name is too close to a competitor or infringes on a current trademark, you could have legal action taken against you. It is possible to conduct an online search to view currently used company names so you can choose one that doesn't infringe on another.

The next step is to register your company's director. It is fine to have a director who is a non-UK resident. This person must be over 16 years of age. If you have a limited company with shareholders, there must be at least one shareholder, including the director. You can also choose to set the value of your company's shares. You will need to create a “ memorandum of association ” — an important legal document that needs to be signed by all shareholders. By signing it, all parties involved are agreeing to form the limited company and to the binding “articles of association,” i.e. the rules the director, shareholders and the company secretary have agreed to in running the company and how it operates.

Bear in mind that if your company has no physical presence (no physical office or branch), then you do not need to register in the UK as a limited company. You can register in the UK if you have a physical address. LLP's, government agencies, unincorporated bodies and partnerships are not able to register as limited companies in the UK.

Register for Corporation Tax

You need to register your company for corporation tax and PAYE when you set up. You have to do this within the first three months of trading. A unique tax reference will need to be posted to your company address so you can complete the registration of your company. It is important to keep on top of your taxes and accounting, as you will be required to submit a company tax return every year. You can choose to do this via an in-house accounts department or hire an external accountant to manage your books for you (this may be easier if you are based overseas as a non-UK resident). You must submit tax returns to HMRC and Companies House regardless of whether your company makes a profit or a loss.

Ready to set up your limited company? Let us do the hard work for you with our non-resident company registration packages .

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