The start guide for doing business in the UK

Even after the UK left the EU, Great Britain is still a very important business partner to countries in the EU. Consequently, the UK still offers European companies plenty of opportunities. In this article, we provide valuable information for business owners who want to do business in the UK.

Starting a business in the UK

Do you want to start a business in the UK? Thanks to the English language and history with immigrants, England is popular for foreign business owners.

Corporation types in the UK

If you wish to start a business in the UK, you can choose from several corporation types. The most popular types of corporations are:

  • Private Company Limited by Shares (Ltd). A Ltd. company can be registered at the Business Registry UK. This costs 20 pounds. A Ltd. company has no publication right. The business activities do not necessarily have to take place in the United Kingdom; however, UK laws apply.
  • Public Limited Company. Similar to a Dutch N.V. The social capital of this legal entity is split up in shares that are freely transferable.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This is a partnership between at minimum 2 (legal) persons. The owners are only partially responsible.
  • Sole Trader. As a sole trader, you are personally responsible for your company.
  • Business partnership. In a business partnership, partners share the responsibility of the company.

UK Special Economic Zones

The United Kingdom has 9 official economic zones. In these Enterprise zones, the British government stimulates new economic activities by way of government support and special tax regulations. More information on this can be found on the British government website.

UK Culture

In order to successfully conduct business in the UK, it is advisable to take the cultural differences between Brits and other European people into account.

  • Speak the language. Although most people believe themselves to be proficient in English, mistakes are easily made. Therefore, it is important to have your written documentation checked by a native English-speaking translator.
  • Be polite. Brits love politeness and being courteous to others. That's why Brits are usually less direct than other European people, such as the Dutch. This can lead to confusion. Be sure to ask for clarification, followed by saying ‘please.’
  • Record agreements in writing. Brits value written communications. Record your agreements in writing.
  • Small talk is appreciated. In the UK, it is customary to start a conversation with small talk. Brits prefer not to discuss personal matters.
  • Take your time. Closing a deal can cost you more time than you might be used to. Therefore, invest in relationships and be patient in negotiations.
  • Have knowledge of the topography. The United Kingdom is a nation state made up of 4 constituent countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the island on which England, Scotland, and Wales (therefore, not Northern Ireland) are located. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people do not necessarily feel English. This can be a sensitive topic as well. So don't make the mistake of telling a Scot that they are English.

Support for doing business in the UK

If you intend to do business in the UK, you are not alone. The following organisations offer help to companies that intend to do business in the UK.

  • The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is an alliance of more than 600 organisations and provides, among other things, a database of organisations looking for business partners.
  • The British government offers information and support for foreign investors via the websites Invest UK and GOV.UK.

Useful links

Below is an overview for you of web pages with valuable information.

Do you have a question about this article?

Reply within 24 hours

Share this article

Choose your favorite channel

Subscribe now to our newsletter