Register a Business in the UK

How to Register a Business in the UK?

On February 08, 2024 | In Self Sponsorship | By A Y & J Solicitors Last Updated : February 14, 2024

Self-sponsorship is one way international business owners can relocate to the UK. To take advantage of this route, you will need to register a business in the UK. This can be a complex process, from choosing the correct legal structure to ensuring you are compliant with your tax obligations, there is so much to think about.

For more information about your immigration case, including if you need help in register a business in the UK, Self-sponsorship, A Y & J are on hand to help. Call us today on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today.

In this guide, we will explore the process of registering a business in the UK so that you can use this route towards self-sponsorship with the Skilled Worker Visa. It’s important to get things right from the start so that you are able to self-sponsor your Skilled Worker visa.

What does it take to register a business in the UK?

Registering your business gives it legitimacy and opens the door to a wide range of opportunities. For many non-UK residents, the purpose of setting up a UK business will be a route towards a Skilled Worker visa.

Rather than apply for a job with another company, entrepreneurial individuals can establish their own company and then sponsor their Skilled Worker visa. As a business owner, you will have far greater control over your earning potential than you would while working as an employee of another company.

It is also a popular alternative to the Innovator Founder Visa or the Start Up Visa. With both of these visa categories, you need to establish a unique business in the UK. The unique nature of your business plan is backed up by the endorsement. With the self-sponsorship route, there is far less pressure to create an innovative new business. It only needs to be viable and profitable. 

The actual process of registering a business is very simple, but there are steps you will need to take before and after establishing your business that will pave the way for you to self-sponsor your visa.

In order to set up a business in the UK, you will need to take the following steps:

Choose your legal entity

When setting up a business in the UK, you will either register as:

  • A sole trader
  • A limited company
  • A partnership

A sole trader is registered with HMRC for tax purposes but not with Companies House. This route is often most popular with freelancers. With this legal entity, the individual is responsible for all company debts.

A limited company must be registered with Companies House with a unique and non-offensive name. With a limited company, the company’s finances are kept separate from the owner’s finances, but with this protection comes some additional reporting and management responsibilities.

A partnership is the easiest way for two or more people to start a business. These individuals will be jointly responsible for debts and profits.

Register with HMRC or Companies House?

If you would like to work as a sole trader, you will need to inform HMRC that you will be working in a self-employed capacity. This process is free and can be completed online.

If you would like to establish a limited company or a partnership, you will have to register your business with Companies House. This process costs £12, can be started online, and will usually be completed within 24 hours.

Companies House will ask for the following information:

  • The company name
  • The office address for the company
  • Details of the director(s)
  • Details of the shareholders, if any
  • The share capital information, and the particulars relating to each class of shares
  • Details of those with significant control over the company

If you are establishing your business on your own, this process will be much simpler. 

You will receive a “certificate of incorporation” to confirm your business is a legal entity. You will then need to register for corporation tax within three months.

As part of the process of establishing a limited company or partnership, you will have to select your trading name. This cannot clash with any existing trademarks in the UK. Once you register your business name, no one else will be able to use it.

What do you need to register a limited company or partnership from overseas?

The process of registering a limited company from overseas is thankfully quite simple. You will need:

  • A bank account registered in the UK
  • A UK-registered office address

Many banks will now offer international banking options. Banks like Monzo and Revolut will allow you to open a UK bank account without an address. HSBC also offers non-resident banking options. You will need to pass anti-money laundering checks before you can secure a UK bank. You can expect to be subject to greater scrutiny as a non-UK resident.

Your UK registered address can be a PO Box or virtual office address. A virtual office service will enable you to rent a prestigious UK business address and all mail will be forwarded to you at your overseas address. Costs for this service will vary.

Can a foreigner register a business in the UK?

Residence is often a basic requirement for setting up a legal business entity. Thankfully, the UK is open to non-residents starting their new business ventures in the UK. Since the entire application process is managed online, physical presence in the country is not a requirement.

You will need to consult with an accountant to confirm your tax status and where you will pay income tax and corporation tax on your earnings. 

Opening a company in the UK for self-sponsorship route

If your intention is to establish your business to self-sponsor your Skilled Worker visa, you will need to appoint a UK resident as an Authorising Officer within your organisation. This person needs to be a British Citizen or have settled status/indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

They will need to act in the following capacities in order to meet the eligibility requirements for becoming a UK visa sponsor.

  • Authorising Officer: A senior figure responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the sponsorship management system (SMS).
  • Key Contact: The main point of contact between your business and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
  • Level 1 User: Responsible for the day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS.

These roles can be fulfilled by one person or multiple people. 

If you do not have someone in the UK who can fulfil this role, don’t worry, all is not lost. You could appoint someone from outside the UK and use the UK Expansion Worker visa to enable them to come to the UK in order to establish UK operations. This individual will need to have been granted entry clearance for the purposes of establishing your business in the UK.

How can A Y & J help?

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with registering a business in the UK for self-sponsorship. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!


A Y & J Solicitors is a multi-award winning, 14+ years experienced, recommended by Legal 500, boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London. Having assisted 5000+ clients, we are well equipped to help you with our ‘In It To Win It’ approach. For your assurance and confidence, we are pleased to share our trust rating of 4.9/5 based on 1000+ reviews on Trustpilot & Google.

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