The UK is fantastic for starting a sustainable business. They have no problems allowing foreign nationals to create a company and do not require you to live there. Plus, you also receive the same rights as UK residents regarding company formation.

Company formation in the UK as a non-resident is very similar to starting one as a resident. It’s quite straightforward, which probably has a lot to do with why becoming a director of a company in the UK is such a popular option for foreign nationals. Thousands of non-residents all over the globe are creating new businesses in the UK every year without ever stepping foot in the country.

Here’s how to get started with a company formation in the UK when you are a non-resident and why your business should become more sustainable. 

What is a Sustainable Business?

Sustainability is big business, and more companies in the UK are starting to do more for the environment, but what does it mean to be a sustainable business?

There are five key components of a sustainable business, including:

  • Reducing the impact the company has on the environment.
  • Social obligations, or ensuring the company looks after everyone it affects, including staff, suppliers, and customers.
  • The business model will continue to work just as well in the future as it does now.
  • Resources are sustainable – the business won’t survive if resources are limited.
  • The company gives back to the community.

A sustainable business strategy focuses on more than just cash flow. It also has a valuable reason to exist, solves a problem, and strives to improve the world, society, and the environment.

There are many different ways to create a more sustainable business, and it’s not always about selling green products. For example, you can make a more sustainable business by auditing your energy usage, paper usage, waste production, and fuel consumption, to name just a few.

By making your business more sustainable, you lower your overheads and attract various forms of tax relief from the UK government.

Why Start a Company in the UK?

There are many great reasons to start a company in the UK. Here are just a few benefits you will enjoy with a UK company:

  • UK residents are more loyal to UK businesses than international ones
  • You can eliminate a lot of red tape when trading with UK businesses
  • The UK has robust legal protection for copyright and intellectual property
  • Direct access to a profitable economy without a work visa

Legal Obligations for Forming a Limited Company in the UK as a Non-Resident

Starting a UK company is straightforward, but you do have to follow a process and will need to meet some requirements, including:

  • The company will need one director of the company and one shareholder. These individuals can be the same person but must be over 16 years old.
  • A UK registered office address that is not a P.O. Box address.

You don’t need to buy a home or office space to use as your address, making the process easier.

UK Company Formation as a Non-Resident

Here are the steps you need to follow with company formation in the UK as a non-resident.

1. Check Name Availability

UK company names need to be unique. Perform a search of your intended business name to see if it is taken. If it is, you will need to create alternatives until you land on something not currently used.

2. Register the Company Name

Once you have a unique name, you will need to register it.

3. Register Your Official UK Address

As stated, you do need an official UK address if you want to be a director of a company in the UK as a foreign national. Non-UK residents often use a virtual address that automatically forwards physical mail to their real-world location. You can also use a PO box, but it must be accompanied by a physical address and postcode. You can’t use a PO box by itself.

4. Register a Director

One person at least 16 years or older must be the director of the company, but they do not have to be a UK resident.

5. Issue Shares

Companies limited by shares must have at least one shareholder. The director of the company can also be the shareholder, and you are required to set the initial value of the share. You can issue more than one share, and shareholders can also be any number of people.

6. Create a “Memorandum of Association’

A memorandum of association is a legal document all shareholders must sign when agreeing to form the company. ‘Articles of association’ are also required, which are documents outlining the rules on running the company about which all shareholders, directors, and company secretaries agree.

7. Register for Corporation Tax

You can register online for Corporation Tax and PAYE as an employer when you register your company, but the deadline for Corporation Tax is three months after the first day of doing business. Starting to do business includes any of the following actions:

  • Buying
  • Selling
  • Renting a property
  • Advertising
  • Employing someone

You should allow some time for the process because you require a Unique Tax Reference to be posted to your registered address before you can complete your registration. Registering for VAT is also a good idea.

8. Open a UK Bank Account

Most of the larger banks are happy to work with foreign nationals who set themselves up as directors of a company in the UK. It’s possible to register your UK company with a foreign bank as long as you let them know that is what you are doing. However, a UK bank account will ensure you don’t encounter any stumbling blocks when dealing with other UK companies.

The above steps are relatively straightforward but can be time-consuming and arduous when forming a UK company from distant shores. We aren’t able to cover everything you will need to do in such a short article, but you can make sure all your bases are covered by dealing with a company formation service.

The process is speedy, and you can have your UK company ready in as little as 24 hours. Plus, when you register a business through them, they will plant a tree in your honour.