How To Start a Business in the UK: A Guide for Foreign Citizens

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Comprehensive Guide How to Start a Business in the UK as a Foreigner, process for open business

Are you considering starting a business in the UK but unsure about the process? In this article, we will go through the different visa categories that allow individuals, including non-British nationals, to open and run their businesses in the UK. let’s dive into the world of UK business visas.

How to Start a Business in the UK

How to Start a Business in the UK as a Foreigner

Starting a business in the UK as a foreigner involves several key steps and considerations. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

Step 1: Get a Visa

  • If you’re from a country that requires a visa to enter the UK, you’ll need a visa to live and work legally in the country.
  • There are different types of visas available, so consult with your travel agent or the UK government to determine which one is suitable for your business intentions.
  • The UK’s immigration system is point-based and categorized into Tier 1, which is for entrepreneurs, investors, and highly skilled workers looking to establish businesses in the UK.

You can also read about the 15% fee increase for UK Visitors Visa

Exploring the Visa Categories

Here to help navigate the different visa categories that allow individuals to set up businesses in the UK. There are three main routes to consider:

1. Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator Founder Visa is an ideal choice for those with innovative business ideas. However, it’s important to note that the business must be both innovative and scalable. The UK government has approved several endorsing bodies for this visa category. To secure this visa, you must:

  • Obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body.
  • Meet the English language requirement, which is typically set at the B2 level (CEFR).
  • Maintain a minimum funding amount in your account for 28 consecutive days.
2. UK Expansion Worker – Global Business Mobility

The UK Expansion Worker Visa is tailored for businesses looking to expand their operations to the UK. To qualify, you need to:

  • Have a genuine trading business in your home country.
  • Establish a company in the UK and obtain a sponsor license.
  • Sponsor a senior staff member to set up a branch in the UK.

While this route doesn’t lead to permanent residency, it offers an opportunity to extend your business operations. Family members can accompany the visa holder, and there’s no English language requirement.

3. Sole Sponsorship Visa

The Sole Sponsorship Visa combines a sponsor license with a skilled worker visa, making it a flexible choice for a wide range of business types. Unlike other categories, it allows businesses from various sectors, sizes, and revenue levels. The key requirements include:

  • Setting up a company in the UK.
  • Obtaining a sponsor license.
  • Meeting certain eligibility criteria for hiring skilled workers.
  • Having a settled person act as key personnel on the sponsor license application.

The significant advantage of this route is that it leads to the possibility of permanent residency from the beginning.

Additional Insights and Tips
  • For students in the UK who wish to switch to a skilled worker visa, it’s essential to understand that you can apply after your course end date, even if you haven’t received your degree by then.
  • If you want to start a business in the UK and are not actively involved in running it, you can be an investor and own a UK-based company.

You can also read Alignment of Student Visa Fees

Step 2: Consider Your Business Structure

  • Before starting your business, you must decide on the appropriate business structure that aligns with UK laws and regulations.
  • The four main business structures in the UK are Sole Trader, Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, and Limited Company. Each has its own legal and tax implications, so research and choose the one that suits your business.

Step 3: Open a Business Bank Account and Register It

  • Opening a UK business bank account as a non-resident is essential to facilitate international transactions and manage your business finances effectively.
  • The process of opening a bank account in the UK can be time-consuming due to anti-money laundering policies. There are a few ways to register a business bank account in the UK:
    • Use a multi-currency account with flexible onboarding requirements.
    • Prove your UK residence to the bank.
    • Choose a reputable UK bank that allows non-residents to open an account.

You Can also read Choosing the Right Bank in the UK in 2023-2024

Step 4: Register Your Business for Tax

  • After selecting your business structure, you need to register your business for taxation with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the UK’s tax authority.
  • HMRC will provide you with the necessary information and guidelines for registering your business for tax-related matters.


Starting a business in the UK as a non-British national is a feasible and promising endeavor. Remember that each visa category has its unique advantages and restrictions, so choose the one that aligns best with your business plans and goals.

We hope this guide helps you take the first steps toward establishing your business in the UK and achieving your entrepreneurial dreams. Good luck!

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