Registering an Office in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is one of the most mature European markets and the second-largest European economy. Establishing a business presence in the UK has multiple benefits, including one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the G7 countries, though this may change soon.
If you plan to register an office in the United Kingdom, here are a few things you need to know.
Registered Office in the UK
A registered office in the UK is one of the primary requirements associated with incorporating your business (as a limited company) in the UK. It needs to be a physical address, not a PO box number where you can receive mail. This address will be publicly available, so it’s not ideal to use your residential address, even if you work primarily from home.
A registered office is where two regulatory bodies – Companies House and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will contact you. However, it doesn’t have to be your primary place of business. You may have offices, production facilities, warehouses, etc., elsewhere while using the address for correspondence. The address of the registered office may be required on all your official documents, correspondence documents, and contracts.
The two common ways of registering an office in the UK are:
- Securing the premises yourself. This makes sense if you plan to operate out of these premises or run at least part of your business from there.
- Using a business address service. These services offer you a legitimate address you can put down as your registered office address, and any mail addressed to your business may be diverted to you (or sent via soft copy). It’s a far more affordable and practical option.
It’s important to understand that the registered office address will not be the only one you will need to share with the Companies House when registering an office in the UK. You will also need to provide the following:
Service Address: The service address or director service address is an address the director on whose behalf the company is registered in the UK will use to receive communication addressed directly to him/her. It is publicly available and can be the same as the registered office address.
Residential Address: The residential address is the director’s home/residence address. If you are not using it for a service address or registered office address, it will be kept private. But if you use the same address for service and/or registered office, it will be made public.
Registering An Office In The UK As A Foreign Business
If you are a foreign business that’s expanding to the UK, registering an office r is one of the steps you need to take to incorporate your business/establish a legal presence in the UK. There are multiple routes you can take when registering a business in the UK.
- You can register as an overseas company. It’s only recommended when you have a presence in the country as a business entity or wish to establish a presence.
- You can incorporate a company in the UK by working with a local director and complying with all the laws just like a local business owner. This would be a unique business entity that will need to adhere to all the laws that apply to local UK businesses.
- Opening a branch of your business in the UK is another way to enter this market. You will have to go through the process of registering an office in the UK with Companies House.
- You can apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and emigrate to the UK to set up a new business.
All these approaches have different costs, time implications, and benefits. You should start with streamlining your goals for registering an office in the UK in the first place and choose the route that best aligns with these goals.
The benefit of Registering an Office in the UK
Like most business decisions, registering an office in the UK comes with its own set of pros and cons that you should consider when making this crucial decision.
- A registered office in the UK is not just a formal address that local bodies can use to correspond with you. It’s a physical presence that gives legitimacy and credibility to your business. It can help build trust with local vendors, clients, and consumers.
- Registering an office in the UK is akin to establishing a formal presentation, which will give you more access to local resources and talent. You can hire the right talent to propel your growth in the UK market. Without a physical presence, you may have a hard time coordinating with your UK-based resources and attracting top talent.
- Registering an office in the UK, especially if you choose the right approach, may not be a cost-intensive process. So, you can establish a local presence and get the necessary benefits without acquiring premises. This can lower your bottom line significantly from a cost-benefit perspective.
- A registered office will be akin to declaring a Permanent Establishment, which will preemptively protect you from regulatory trouble you may run into before your business activities trigger the risk of Permanent Establishment classification.
The cons of registering an office in the UK are primarily associated with the additional cost and formal taxation. But that’s only a factor when your business activities don’t warrant establishing a local presence. You can still tap into the UK market (or talent pool) without being considered a Permanent Establishment.
As a foreign company, it may be challenging to navigate the process of registering an office in the UK, even though the government has made a significant effort to make the process as seamless as possible. You may have questions about your specific industry and what your ideal approach should be (when it comes to establishing a UK entity) based on your expansion goals and existing business model. An expansion partner like Aadmi, that’s well-versed in the UK regulations and market, can help you identify the best course of action when it comes to registering an office in the UK.