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A Guide to Setting Up a Business in the UK - VWV Solicitors

Setting Up a Business in England & Wales

Overseas Businesses - Your Guide to Setting Up a Business in England & Wales

The UK remains a hub for trade and commerce around the world. If you are looking to set up a business in England and Wales from overseas, it is important to choose the right structure to suit your operations and the relationship with any offshore owner.

This guide will help you:

  • choose the right structure for your business
  • consider the key issues before setting up your business
  • understand the process for setting up a company in England and Wales

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In England and Wales, there are a number of ways in which people can choose to run their business. The most common include:

Private Company Limited by Shares

When first setting up a company, basic questions you will need to address are:

  • What will be its name?
  • Where will its registered office be?
  • Who will be the directors, company secretary (if any), and shareholders?
  • How many shares will be issued and what will be their value?

The guide covers the steps which need to be taken in relation to company name, registered office, secretary, shareholders and directors.


Once the proposed arrangements for the company have been agreed, an application to Companies House will need to be completed to incorporate and register the company. Companies House will then issue a certificate of incorporation with a registration number which will act as proof that the company has been created and registered.

Following registration, the company will have ongoing responsibilities to submit reports to Companies House and maintain statutory registers. The full guide outlines the registers and records (statutory books) the company is also required to maintain throughout its lifetime.

England & Wales Establishment (Branch)

Some overseas companies choose not to set up a subsidiary, to avoid the ongoing administrative costs of managing separate companies (for example), and decide to operate their business in England & Wales through the overseas company itself. Particulars of the company establishing the branch will still need to be registered under The Overseas Companies Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1801).

An overseas company with an England and Wales establishment must register a number of details at Companies House within 1 month of opening. For more detail, please download our guide.

Additional Business Considerations

As well as the structure of the company, you will also need to consider the following questions when first starting a business:

  • Who should I employ to run the business?
  • On what terms should I employ them?
  • Can I employ workers from outside of the EEA?
  • Will Brexit have any impact on the plans I have for my business?
  • What do I need to consider when taking a property?

How We Can Help

At VWV, we have a long track record of advising overseas clients on setting up and organising their businesses and commercial assets in the UK, across a wide range of sectors.

A key part of our role is helping you hit the ground running when starting your business in the UK and to assist you in overcoming the legal and regulatory hurdles you may face.

We will work closely with you and your advisers in other countries to help deliver your objectives.

To discuss how we can help you set up your business in the UK, please contact David Emanuel on +44 (0)20 7665 0848, or complete the form below.

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Meet the Team

Our international lawyers provide specialist legal advice and support with inward investment, international export and import.

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David Emanuel - International & Corporate Lawyer in London - VWV Law Firm
Richard Phillips - Partner & Corporate Lawyer in Watford - VWV Law Firm

Mergers & Acquisitions 

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Doug Locke - Partner & Intellectual Property Lawyer - VWV Law Firm

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