Forming a UK company is a quick, easy, and entirely online process (although you can still form via paper documents if you wish).
And the good news is, anyone can form a UK limited company, regardless of where they live.
In this blog post, we’re going to look at how to form a private company limited by shares, the most popular company type in the UK – as a non-UK resident.
Let’s get started.
Companies House or a company formation agent?
Companies House are the UK’s registrar of companies. This means a UK limited company can not be formed without their approval.
Once a company has been formed it is placed on the Companies House register, where certain company information is made freely accessible to the public via the Companies House search tool.
The purpose of the register is to provide transparency in the limited company structure.
Whilst companies can be formed directly with Companies House, forming with a company formation agent (such as us here at 1st Formations) is a popular choice for business owners as formation agents can offer additional services that Companies House can not, before and after the company has been formed.
Here are just a few of the features/services that we offer:
- Company formation packages tailored to specific requirements
- Hands-on help in completing the company formation process, including a pre-submission review to check that all the information that’s been provided is correct
- Address services whereby the agent allows their address to be used as the company’s registered office (particularly relevant for non-UK residents, more on this below) and director service address
- Assistance in filing the confirmation statement and company accounts (annual filing obligations for all limited companies)
- Assistance in registering the company for VAT and PAYE
When it comes to the actual company, it’s important to stress that there is no difference between a company formed directly at Companies House and a company formed with a company formation agent.
The registered office must be based in the United Kingdom
The main problem that a non-UK resident may encounter when forming a company – is that the company’s registered office (this being the official address for the company), must be based in the UK.
Fortunately, the person forming the company does not need to live or work from the registered office. The only proviso is that mail sent by official government bodies (such as Companies House and HMRC) is seen by the company officer(s).
Because of this (and as mentioned above) UK-based accountants and company formation agents often allow individuals to use their address as a registered office – they then ensure that the company officer gains access to the official mail that is delivered to the address. This is permitted by Companies House.
How to form your company, as a non-UK resident, with 1st Formations
Forming a limited company with us can be broken down into a few simple steps:
Choose your company name
First up, you need to choose a name for your business. This must be unique and can’t be similar to another company name on the Companies House register.
Our company name search tool will immediately tell you if your chosen name is available. If it is, great. If it isn’t, don’t worry – you can use the tool as many times as you wish, free of charge.
Pick the UK company formation package that’s right for you
We offer a number of company formation services that are appropriate for customers who don’t live in the UK. The standout being our Non-Residents Package (£124.99 plus VAT).
This is ideal as it comes with a London registered office service (remember, to form a UK limited company you need a UK address to use as the registered office) and the option to open an account with Wise UK banking.
Browse our different company formation packages to find the one that suits you and your business. Once you have chosen your package, simply proceed to the checkout and make payment.
Provide proof of ID and address
If your package does include any address services, such as the registered office, we are legally required to ask you for proof of ID and address. It’s a simple process and should not take long. We’ll get in touch as and when this is required.
Start the company formation process
Now it’s time to appoint the director (the person who will run the company), shareholder (the person who owns the company) and person with significant control (the person who ultimately controls the company). Only one person is needed to form a company, so that person can take all of the roles. Alternatively, they can be shared amongst different people.
You will need to provide basic personal information to make the necessary appointments, including residential addresses – it’s absolutely fine if these are not in the UK.
The only address that must be based in the UK is the registered office. If you have selected a package that includes our registered office service, you will be able to add our address at the relevant stage of the company formation process.
Some of our packages, including the Non-Residents Package also allow you to use our address as the director service address. This is an added benefit but not compulsory, the service address can be based in any country.
Your company shares
When adding your shareholder(s) you will be asked to provide information about their shares. This will include:
- Type of shares
- Number of shares
- Value of shares
These shares outline the ownership of the company. For example:
1 shareholder with 1 share – they own 100% of the company
2 shareholders with 1 share each, worth the same value – they both own 50% of the company
10 shareholders with 1 share each, worth the same value – they all own 10% of the company
How you split your shares is up to you. We recommend keeping things simple at this stage and allocating a low number of shares worth a low nominal amount. It’s far easier to add new shares at a later date than it is to remove them.
You also need to consider that shareholders are liable for the value of shares that they hold. If you give a shareholder £10,000 worth of shares, and the company was to run into trouble, this is the amount they may be required to pay.
The memorandum and articles of association
You will reach a step dedicated to the memorandum and articles of association. These documents specify how the company will be run.
A default set of memorandum and articles are included as part of your package – these will suit the majority of companies. You are welcome to create and upload your own documents, however, this can be a complicated process and may jeopardise your company formation application.
Review your UK company formation
The final step is to check over all the information that you have provided. If you’ve made any mistakes, go back and amend them. If everything is correct, you can submit your application.
We’ll email you as soon as your company has been formed. The exact timeframe differs depending on the Companies House workload but it can take as little as 3 working hours.
As an additional service, we can check over your company formation application – before it’s submitted to Companies House – to ensure everything is completed correctly. This Pre-Submission Review costs only £4.99 plus VAT and is automatically added at the checkout.
Ready to start your own limited company?
Our Non-Residents Package covers everything you need to form a UK limited company as a non-UK resident, including:
- UK company registration in as little as 3 working hours
- Wise business banking account
- London-based registered office and business address services (we will forward all of your company mail to wherever you are located)
- Online company manager
- Business phone number for 12 months
There you have it, how to form a UK company as a non-UK resident. We hope you have found this post helpful. Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments section below.