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How to Start a Business in the UK - As a Foreigner


If you’re from a country outside of the UK but, you may need a visa. Prospective entrepreneurs could receive favourable treatment in the UK’s points-based immigration system, but you’ll need to adhere to several rules to get Tier 1 status and there may be many changes to come as the UK negotiate with the EU - keep an eye on for any new information and updates

Check if you can legally start a business by clicking start a business in the UK as a foreigner, to find out if you need a visa.

Let's look at how to obtain a business visa in the United Kingdom

You're able to work as a freelancer, self-employed, or start a business in the UK as long as you have the right to work and live in the UK, this may mean having a relevant work visa and biometric residence permit. 

If you are looking to come and start a business in the UK or pursue a business idea, there are a number of visas you can apply for.

Innovator visa

Innovator visas have similar rules to the now-defunct entrepreneur visas.

You must have at least £50,000 in investment capital, or have invested this sum already in the previous year. If you haven’t invested the money yourself, it must come from a government-endorsed funding competition, a venture capital fund registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, or a UK government department.

You must also adhere to some other rules too, such as demonstrating you are from a majority English-speaking country or have taken an accredited English language examination.

Visas cost £1,021 and last for three years. You can extend your visa by a further three years if you meet the criteria.

Start-up visa

You can apply for a start-up visa if you have an endorsement from a UK higher education institution or an organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

You’ll need to prove your business idea is new, innovative, and with potential for growth. Fees range from £308 to £363.

You can stay in the UK for two years with a start-up visa. You can’t extend a start-up visa, but they can switch to an entrepreneur visa upon expiry in some circumstances.

Investor visa

If you have £2 million to invest in the UK economy, you can apply for an investor visa. It costs £1,623 to apply and the earliest you can submit an application is three months before you plan to travel.

Investor visas allow you to stay in the UK for a maximum of three years and four months. You can extend your visa by a further two years subject to meeting the criteria.

Foreign companies opening up a branch or subsidiary in the United Kingdom

Overseas companies that want to operate as a business in the UK or open up a branch or subsidiary in the UK need to register as an overseas company with Companies House.

If you have a business in another country and want to open up a branch of the business in the UK, you need to complete form OS IN01 (Registration of an overseas company opening a UK establishment). The registration fee is £20.

Again, there are many hoops to jump through but a genuine business idea that meets all the criteria required will find the UK a great place to be in business with many resources to help make you a success.


Please note information and government guidelines are subject to change and are for information purposes only.





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