Relocating to the UK – Working or Starting Your Business in the UK
In Part 4 of our UK Relocation series, we focus on the British work and tax system and how to start a business in the UK including UK company formation, registration and visas.
The UK is well known for being welcoming towards entrepreneurs – whether you’re an English business person or an international company owner, the British government is happy to have you as long as you’re trying to make money and paying your taxes.
Being one of the world’s largest economies means that many foreign companies have been attracted to the UK and have become successful by either opening branches of their existing companies or starting a UK company. The tech scene is particularly thriving in England with both big and small companies clustering around the East London area which has been dubbed Silicon Roundabout – the UK’s version of Silicon Valley.
The UK government is very keen on attracting investment from abroad so the regulatory environment is extremely liberal, with many international investors opting to open a Private Limited Company. This is very popular with foreign entrepreneurs as only one shareholder is needed (and so is ideal for wholly-owned subsidiary) and there is no minimum capital requirement.
To open a UK Limited Company, you’ll need the following:
- One Director and Shareholder are currently required. A Company Secretary is also recommended.
- To be able to register for VAT in the UK you must have a physical presence and can prove you have business in the UK such as clients, offices or staff.
If you’re setting up a business in the UK, it is always a good idea to get a registered chartered accountant when you arrive as they will be clued up with all the latest laws and tax regulations. They will be able to advise you on everything to do with financial issues for your business which can save you not only money, but also any upheavals down the line if you are unsure of the business system in England.
But if you’re going to be working for someone else’s company, then you’ll need to find out about visas and tax IDs…
How to get a National Insurance Number or Visa for the UK
If you’re going to be working for a British company, the first thing you’ll need is a National Insurance Number. This is like a tax ID number and will allow you to pay the right amount of tax according to your salary. The tax – called National Insurance contributions – goes towards paying your pension and healthcare so it’s really important to get this straight as soon as you arrive. To apply for a National Insurance number, simply get in touch with the NI department here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
Some British companies will assist you with getting your NI number, otherwise you must be prepared to make quite a few phone calls to your local NI offices to set up a meeting. They normally only release a few appointments per day and you have to be on hand to snap them up straight away. You also have to be prepared to travel some way for your meeting so make sure you set aside enough time out of your working day to do this. And also make sure you have all your relevant documentation with you, otherwise you’ll just have to go through the process all over again.
For people outside the Europe, you’ll need to apply for a visa, either for working or for residential purposes for you and your family. Many companies who employ workers from abroad sort out working visas for their staff and help to obtain visas for their family, but to double check you can qualify and have all the correct documentation, it’s always best to check with the government website: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas
There are also some sites out there who can assist those who are unsure about visa applications for free. Migreat is an organisation that gives free on-line information. Their website is here: https://www.migreat.com/en/
But do be careful of less unscrupulous sites and companies that offer to sort out National Insurance numbers and visas for large sums of money. You may find you end up spending lots of cash with very little to show for it at the end, or perhaps even an illegal document that might see you deported. It’s always best to opt for obtaining free information and then going through the proper government channels yourself in order to fulfil the UK requirements for workers. There are no shortcuts!
For information regarding how to find schools, doctors and what to do with your pets during your relocation to the UK - click here for PART 3.
For help in how to open a UK bank account & shipping your personal belongings - click here for PART 2.
And for tips on how to find a property and how to get your home hooked up with all your required services - click here for PART 1.
We hope we’ve helped you in some way towards your smooth relocation to the UK. We wish you and your family every success with your new life in Britain. If you require any further information on UK company formation, opening a bank account, finding an accountant, foreign exchange services or visas, please don’t hesitate to email us via our contact page stating ‘Relocation to the UK’ in the email subject heading. And the very best of British luck to you!