Starting a business in England

The procedure for starting up a business in the United Kingdom is simple and fast. The business has to be registered at the Companies House (a division of the Ministry of Trade and Industry which has similar functions to the national register of the Italian Chamber of Commerce).

The main forms of companies are: Private Limited Company (a private company with limited liability); Private Unlimited Company (private company with unlimited liability); Public Limited Company (publicly owned company with limited liability). Then there is also the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), the simplest and most straightforward form that allows you to operate in the English market without necessarily having to establish a company (for example a partnership between professionals, freelancing, etc.); and the Partnership, which is an agreement between professionals or businesses where liability is unlimited but without any obligation to register with the Company House.

The English system is based on a general principle of “trust” in the business community, making the establishment of a company (the Ltd is the most common form) simple and efficient, with no need of a notary. Nevertheless, one must not be tempted to think that there are no controls. They are just different. Those who operate in England know that even though opening a company only requires a few hours, obtaining a VAT number requires 2 to 8 weeks, and to open a current account it is necessary to pass a delicate and in-depth process of due diligence conducted by the Bank. What’s more, even in England it is important to pay attention to the relationship between partners and be careful to respect corporate agreements. If you establish a company without carefully examining the conditions in the statute, or carelessly, without paying attention to the details, then your business initiative will definitely get off on the wrong foot.

In England, good company management requires care and attention, just as in every other part of the world. Those who claim that there are no obligations, or only cursory obligations, is not telling the truth. The same can be said for those who say that the service costs for an Ltd in London are negligible. The services do have a cost, and at the end of the day they are not that far from the average annual company costs in the main world economies (and how could it be otherwise, considering that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world?).

It is misleading to recommend establishing a company in London for activities carried out in other countries (for example Italy), while failing to inform that the English company would be responsible for all of the obligations in the country where it operates, including taxes, while also having to fulfil all of the obligations in England, with an obvious duplication of administrative obligations, costs, and also taxes.

What’s more, England also has taxes, and they have to be paid. It is absolutely not true that by using an English company to conduct business abroad it is possible to legally avoid paying taxes.

In short, opening a company in England is a wonderful opportunity to grow your business, to internationalise, or even just to access one of the richest consumer markets in the world. But it is not the case to open a “shell company” in England, or to open a company in order to conduct business in other countries.

Internationalisation is a serious matter; it is a process that requires skills, vision, and commitment. If you are looking for growth and new business opportunities, we will be happy to be your partners in this new adventure.