Setting up a UK limited company is a simple and affordable procedure, even if you are a non-UK resident. The application process and legal requirements are exactly the same for everyone, regardless of where they live. Below, we will walk you through the important steps to forming a UK company online.
Registering a UK limited company
To register a UK limited company, you will need to incorporate a company at Companies House in either England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Different legal systems govern each of these countries, so your company can only be incorporated in one of these jurisdictions. However, you can base your business anywhere, and you can trade throughout all parts of the UK and overseas.
You must have at least one director (‘officer’) and one shareholder (‘member’). The same person can be appointed to both positions, which means that you can form a company on your own. Alternatively, you can set up a company with multiple directors and shareholders.
Your company must have a registered office address in its country or incorporation. This will be your official company address and it must be maintained throughout the lifetime of your firm. However, you can change your registered office at any time, as long as it stays in the same part of the UK.
During the incorporation process, Companies House will create a memorandum of association and attach it to the articles of association. The memorandum of association is a legal statement that all members must sign up to. This indicates their agreement to form the company. The articles of association is a constitutional document that sets out the rules and regulations you’ll need to follow when running the company.
The ‘Model’ articles of association are normally provided by company formation agents and Companies House and are suitable for the majority of private limited companies. However, it is possible to alter the Model version or create bespoke articles if your company has more specific requirements not covered in the Model articles.
There are three different ways to incorporate a limited company in the UK:
- Online through an approved company formation agent like Rapid Formations
- Online via Companies House Web Incorporation Service
- By post using Companies House paper application
The quickest and easiest way to form a UK company is to use a formation agent. Typically, applications are approved in just 3-6 working hours because everything is completed online and delivered electronically.
If you register through a company formation agent, there is no need to travel to the UK, post any physical documents, or sign any paperwork in person. You can simply upload and deliver documents electronically and create a unique online ‘signature’ to authorise the registration.
What you need to know about UK companies
- Governed by the Companies Act 2006 and articles of association
- A unique company name is required. This means that it cannot be the ‘same as’ or ‘too like’ the name of any existing company
- A registered office is required. This serves as the official address of the company. It will be placed on the public record and used by Companies House, HMRC, and other government agencies for the delivery of statutory mail and legal notices
- Must adhere to strict filing and reporting requirements
- Must be registered for Corporation Tax when they begin trading
- Non-UK resident directors are legally required to fulfil the same duties and responsibilities as UK-based directors
- Company details are displayed on public record, including information about all directors, shareholders, secretaries, and people with significant control (PSC)
- Each director, secretary, subscriber, and PSC must provide a service address for Companies House. This address can be located anywhere in the world. It will be used for the delivery of statutory mail
Our company formation packages for non-UK resident directors and shareholders
Our Non-Residents Packages have been designed to make the process of setting up a UK company as easy as possible for our non-UK resident clients. They are available from just £119.99 plus VAT and provide the following:
- Ready-to-trade private limited company in 3 working hours
- WorldFirst UK business banking referral
- London Registered Office Service
- London Service Address
- London Business Address
- Worldpay Merchant Account with flexible price plans
- Free access to our Online Admin Portal
- Digital and printed incorporation documents
- Courier delivery by DHL of your company document
- Preparation and filing of first annual confirmation statement (previously known as an annual return)
- VAT registration
- International business mail forwarding service
- Free scan and email of all official government mail, within one working day
- Free support for the life of your company
- Full Company Secretary Service with appointed company secretary (Non-Residents Plus Package only)
- Call Answering with Business Telephone Number for 12 months (Non-Residents Plus Package only)
All clients are automatically registered for our free Online Admin Portal, which will allow you to manage your company online at any time. You can view and update company details, report changes to Companies House, file and update your Confirmation Statement, maintain statutory records, and download additional copies of your registration documents at any time.