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United Kingdom – Self-Employment

The United Kingdom is a popular destination for expats looking to start their own businesses or become self-employed. The country has a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and offers many opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs. In this article, we will explore how self-employment and start-ups work for expats in the United Kingdom, including a step-by-step guide on how to register as self-employed or set up a company.

How self-employment works for expats in the United Kingdom

Foreigners are allowed to work as self-employed individuals in the United Kingdom, but they are required to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and pay taxes on their income. Self-employed individuals are also required to obtain any necessary licenses or permits for their business activities.

Step-by-step guide on how to register as self-employed in the United Kingdom

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to register as self-employed in the United Kingdom:

  1. Register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) within three months of starting your self-employment.
  2. Choose a name for your business or use your own name.
  3. Keep records of your income and expenses.
  4. File a self-assessment tax return every year.
  5. Pay any taxes owed on your income.

Can you work as a digital nomad in the United Kingdom?

Yes, the United Kingdom is a popular location for digital nomads, with a highly developed technology infrastructure and a growing entrepreneurial scene. There are also co-working spaces and shared offices available in major cities such as London, making it easy for digital nomads to work from the United Kingdom.

How to start a company in the United Kingdom

Starting a company in the United Kingdom involves several steps, including choosing a legal structure for your company, registering with Companies House, obtaining any necessary licenses or permits, and registering for taxes.

Step-by-step guide on how to set up a company in the United Kingdom

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a company in the United Kingdom:


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  1. Choose a legal structure for your company, such as a limited liability company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship.
  2. Register your company with Companies House and obtain a certificate of incorporation.
  3. Register for taxes with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
  4. Obtain any necessary licenses or permits for your business activities.
  5. Set up a business bank account.
  6. Register for VAT if your annual turnover exceeds £85,000.

Incentives and programs for expats

The United Kingdom has several programs and incentives in place to encourage foreign investment and entrepreneurship, including:

Entrepreneur Visa

The United Kingdom offers an Entrepreneur Visa for individuals who want to start a business in the country. This visa is available to individuals who have access to £50,000 in investment funds and have a viable business plan.

Startup Loans

The United Kingdom also offers Startup Loans to new businesses. These loans provide funding of up to £25,000, as well as mentorship and support to help new businesses succeed.

Other incentives

In addition to these programs, there are other incentives available to expats who want to start a business in the United Kingdom. These include tax incentives for certain industries, such as research and development, and grants and loans for businesses in certain sectors.

Challenges of doing business in the United Kingdom

While the United Kingdom offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs, there are also challenges to doing business in the country. One of the main challenges is the uncertainty caused by Brexit and the ongoing negotiations surrounding the UK’s departure from the European Union. Cultural differences and regulatory requirements can also present challenges for expats.

Starting a business or becoming self-employed in the United Kingdom can be a rewarding venture for expats. With a well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystem, supportive programs and incentives, and a strong technology infrastructure, the United Kingdom provides a favorable environment for startups and digital nomads. However, it is important to be aware of the challenges that come with doing business in the country, such as regulatory requirements and cultural differences.

By following the steps outlined in this article and taking advantage of the available programs and incentives, expats can successfully navigate the United Kingdom’s business landscape and thrive as entrepreneurs. It is also important to seek guidance from local experts to ensure compliance with the country’s laws and regulations. With the right preparation, expats can establish successful businesses and contribute to the United Kingdom’s economic growth.


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