Aside from a few exceptions, almost anyone can set up a company in the UK. This includes individual people and corporate bodies, minors between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, and non-UK residents.
In this post, we’ll provide a brief overview of company formation requirements and restrictions – specifically, who can and cannot set up, own, and manage a UK limited company.
Minimum requirements to set up a limited company
To lawfully form a limited company, you must have at least one shareholder and one natural (human) director. These two roles can be filled by the same person, which means that one individual can register, own, and manage a company singlehandedly.
You do not have to live in the UK to be the director or shareholder of a UK company. However, the company must provide and maintain a registered office address in the UK.
Who can be a company director?
Anyone can be a company director, apart from individuals who are:
- under the age 16
- disqualified directors
- undischarged bankrupts
- subject to a debt relief order (DRO)
- auditors of the company
Corporate bodies (e.g. companies) can also be directors of other companies, but there must always be at least one other director who is a natural person. You can’t have a corporate body as the sole director.
Who can be a company shareholder?
None of the restrictions that apply to directors apply to company shareholders. Absolutely anyone (natural or corporate) can own shares in a company, including minors. A corporate body can even be the sole shareholder.
However, disqualified directors must exercise caution if they are also shareholders. If their shares provide voting rights and/or they are a person with significant control (PSC), certain actions that they perform as a shareholder or PSC could violate the conditions of their disqualification order.
Can one person set up a limited company?
Yes, one person can set up a limited company by appointing themselves as the sole shareholder and sole director. This means that they will own the whole company and have total control over how it is managed.
Nevertheless, if you set up a company on your own, there is nothing to stop you from bringing in new shareholders or appointing new directors at a later date. The limited company structure is really flexible, so you always have that option.
Can I set up a limited company as a non-UK resident?
Yes, you can set up a limited company in the UK even if you’re a non-UK resident. This is really common and not as difficult as you may think.
Our recent post on UK company formation for non-residents explains in great detail how the process works.
Moreover, our specialist Non-Residents Company Formation Packages provides everything you need to set up a company in the UK.
So there you have it…
Hopefully, this post has given you a better understanding of who can and cannot set up a company in the UK.
If you have any questions or need help forming a company, please contact our company formation team or leave a comment below.