We explain how to legally register a limited company online in the UK and set up a Stripe payment processing account to support your new internet business venture, even if you are a non-UK resident and Stripe is not supported in your country.
The process of registering a UK company can be done remotely (online), and it’s now possible for non-UK residents in unsupported countries to create a Stripe account, enabling online payment processing through a UK limited company.
Whilst setting up a new business during a global pandemic may seem reckless – there are gaps in the market that need to be filled and new opportunities have arisen from the crisis.
If this is something that you’ve been considering – and your market research shows that there is sufficient demand for your product or service – this may be the best time to take the plunge.
Step 1 – Incorporate a UK limited company
Limited company formation is one of the most affordable and efficient ways to set up a legal business in the UK. The process is so straightforward that it takes only a few minutes to complete an online application form if you register through a trusted UK company formation agent like 1st Formations.
We have created a Non-Residents Package at a cost of £124.99, which is ideal for non-UK residents who wish to set up a limited company in the UK. However, before purchasing your company formation package, you will need the following information at hand:
1. Company name
You must choose a unique name for your new company. This means that it cannot be the same as another company’s name, nor too similar to the name of any other company on the Companies House register.
GOV.UK provides helpful guidance on choosing a company name and the rules you need to follow.
When you have decided on a name, simply enter it into 1st Formations’ company name checker to confirm that it is available to register. If it is, you can start filling in your application.
2. Registered office address
This will be your new company’s official address, so it will be included on the public register of companies. Legal mail, filing reminders, and statutory notices from Companies House, HMRC, and other government bodies will be sent to your registered office.
If you use 1st Formations to set up your company, a prestigious Central London registered office is included within the recommended company formation packages mentioned in point 4 below.
3. Company director and shareholder
Private limited companies in the UK need a minimum of one shareholder and one director. Shareholders own the business and have the right to dividends from any profits made by the company. Directors are appointed by shareholders to manage the company on their behalf.
Whilst these are separate roles with different rights and responsibilities, the same person can be a shareholder and director, so you may register a company with only one individual (you), or you can set up the company with other business partners and investors.
For further reading, please have a look at our guide on information required to set up a limited company.
4. Choose your company formation package
Once you have the above information at hand, simply choose your preferred company formation package. The Non-Residents Package is designed for overseas customers and provides everything you will need to get started, including a business banking solution (see Step 2 below).
However, if the price of this package is over your budget, you may wish to consider the Privacy Package at £19.99 or the All-Inclusive Package which is on special offer at £139.99. Both of these company formation packages will provide the all-important registered office that you will need to set up a UK limited company.
5. Registering your company
Once you have completed your package purchase, we will submit your application to Companies House (the Registrar of Companies in the UK), who will take approximately 3 to 6 working hours (subject to workload) to register your company.
Step 2 – Register a TransferWise bank account
TransferWise is a money transfer company based in the United Kingdom. It provides non-UK residents with a UK business bank account to spend, send, and receive multiple currencies at current exchange rates. This is an ideal solution for residents of countries that are not supported by Stripe because you can link your TransferWise account to your Stripe account.
At 1st Formations, we have partnered with TransferWise to include a TransferWise account with our exclusive Non-Residents Package. As soon as your company is approved by Companies House, we will send you a link to apply for your own TransferWise account, and shortly after you will receive your own UK account number and sort code, Eurozone IBAN, and US account and routing number, no matter where in the world you live.
Step 3 – Set up a VPN
The next step is to set up a VPN, which will give you a valid IP address based in the UK. This will allow you to process transactions from unsupported countries using your UK Stripe account.
We would recommend IPBurger, who will provide an inexpensive Fresh IP Address for the UK for less than £8.00 per month.
Step 4 – Set up your website
In order to set up an active Stripe account, you must have a working business website that showcases the products and/or services your company sells.
This allows Stripe to confirm exactly what you are accepting money for, verify your business information, and complete your account activation.
Step 5 – Create a Stripe account
To be able to process online transactions, you will need a payment gateway and a payment processor. Stripe is one of the most convenient and popular e-commerce solutions because it combines payment gateway functionality and third-party payment processing.
Businesses of every size use Stripe to accept payments from customers. With the highest security standards and the ability to handle more than 135 different currencies, Stripe is the premier choice for companies that sell online and across international borders. It also supports a huge range of universal and local payment types.
To create a Stripe account, you will need to provide your name, email address, and a password. At this stage, you can interact with your account in test mode and access Stripe’s helpful guides.
Next, you will need to activate your Stripe account. To do this, you must verify your email address and provide the following information:
- Country where you are based
- Business website address
- Industry in which you operate
- Description of what you sell, to whom you sell, and when you charge your customers
- Type of business (i.e. a limited company)
- Company registration number
- VAT number (if applicable)
- Registered business address (i.e. your company’s registered office address)
- Your legal name
- Telephone number
- Date of birth
- Home address
- Bank account details (enter your TransferWise details)
After you have submitted these details, Stripe will ask you to upload documents to confirm your address and identity. This required verification information is in line with international “Know Your Customer” (KYC) regulations.
When your account has been verified, you can start selling online and take payments from customers all over the world.
Why would I set up an e-commerce business in the UK?
Online shopping, particularly in the UK and across Europe, has gained significant traction in recent years as a result of our increasingly interconnected world, offering convenience and greater choice to consumers around the globe.
In recent months, the challenges presented by COVID-19 have accelerated the growth of e-commerce by years, resulting in unprecedented demand that existing retailers are struggling to meet. Consequently, this presents many opportunities for new online businesses.
Research shows that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on shopping behaviour. More than 50% of consumers state that, given the potential risks, they do not plan to return to physical stores and busy public places for quite some time, even as lockdown measures are eased.
There has also been a dramatic shift in the types of products that shoppers are buying, with priority initially placed on essential items like food, household staples, healthcare products, cleaning and hygiene supplies, pet products, and baby goods. As the weeks have progressed, there’s now increased demand for certain non-essential items, such as children’s toys and games, luxury homewares, garden products, and entertainment and leisure goods.
YouTube Video – Stripe UK
Adil Maf, an e-commerce payment processing expert from Brazil, has published a really helpful video on his YouTube channel titled Stripe UK for non UK residents. He demonstrates how to set up a UK online business with payment processing using Stripe, and how to avoid some of the most common issues faced by non-UK residents when setting up a Stripe account from a non-supported country.
Adil recommends using 1st Formations to form the UK limited company. He also walks you through the process of choosing a VPN and TransferWise business bank account. Why don’t you check it out!