What are the detailed steps for a European entrepreneur to register a UK subsidiary?

As a European entrepreneur, you may be exploring the potential of extending your business reach to the United Kingdom. The UK, offering a conducive environment for business growth, is an attractive destination for many business owners. Establishing a subsidiary in the UK can provide a number of advantages such as access to a larger market, potential tax benefits, and increased brand visibility. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of registering a UK subsidiary.

1. Deciding on the Type of Business Structure

Before starting the registration process, you must first decide on the type of business structure that suits your business needs. In the UK, there are four common types of business structures: Sole Trader, Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), and Limited Company.

Sole Trader is the simplest structure, where the business and the owner are legally the same.

In a Partnership, two or more people share the risks, costs, and responsibilities of the business.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) is a structure that combines features of partnerships and companies.

Finally, a Limited Company is a separate legal entity from its owners. If you wish to establish a subsidiary, this is the structure you should opt for, as a subsidiary is a type of limited company.

2. Choosing a Company Name and Address

The next step to take is to decide on a name for your UK subsidiary. Your chosen name should not be the same as or too similar to an existing company’s name in the UK.

You must also decide on a company address. This will be the address where all official correspondences will be sent. The company address must be in the UK, and it can be a residential or business address.

3. Appointing Directors and Company Secretary

Every UK limited company must appoint at least one director who is responsible for running the company. The director must be at least 16 years old and not disqualified from being a company director. The director's name and personal address will be publicly available on the Companies House register.

Companies are no longer required to appoint a company secretary, but they may do so if they wish. If your company chooses to appoint a secretary, their responsibilities include maintaining company records and ensuring that the company complies with the law.

4. Share Structure and Shareholder Information

As a limited company, your UK subsidiary will have shares and shareholders. You will need to decide on the share structure of your company, including the value of each share and the number of shares to be distributed.

Shareholders are the individuals or organizations that own shares in your company. You need to provide the details of your shareholders during the registration process.

5. Registering with Companies House

The final step is to register your company with Companies House, the UK’s official register of companies. The registration can be done online, by post, or through an agent.

During the registration process, you will need to provide certain documents including the Memorandum of Association (a statement signed by all initial shareholders agreeing to form the company), the Articles of Association (a document defining your company’s rules), and a form IN01 (Application to Register a Company).

Once your application is approved, Companies House will send a certificate of incorporation confirming that your company legally exists.

By following these detailed steps, you can successfully register your UK subsidiary. It is recommended to seek legal counsel or professional advice to ensure you fully understand the process and the implications of establishing a subsidiary. It's important to remember that each business is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. So, take your time to do extensive research and make informed decisions.

6. Registering for Taxes

Once you've successfully registered your UK subsidiary, the next critical step is to ensure your company is registered for taxes. In the UK, companies are required to pay Corporation Tax on their profits. Shortly after you register your company with Companies House, you should receive a 'welcome letter' from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the UK's tax authority. This letter will contain important information about registering for Corporation Tax.

You must register your company for Corporation Tax within three months of starting to do business. The definition of 'doing business' includes buying, selling, advertising, renting a property, employing someone, or even just changing your company name. It's crucial to note that you might need to pay a penalty if you register late.

In addition to Corporation Tax, other taxes your company may need to pay include Value Added Tax (VAT) if your VAT taxable turnover is more than £85,000, and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) if you employ staff. You might also need to register for the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) if you're working in the construction industry.

While the tax registration process might seem overwhelming, remember that there are many resources available to help. It might be beneficial to consult a tax advisor to ensure you understand your company's tax obligations and are registered for the correct taxes.

7. Opening a Bank Account

The final step in setting up your UK subsidiary is opening a business bank account. This is essential for managing your company's money and keeping your business transactions separate from your personal finances.

Choosing the right bank for your business is important. Consider factors like the bank's reputation, the services they offer, and the fees they charge. Some banks offer special accounts for new businesses with added benefits, so it's worth doing your research.

To open a business bank account in the UK, you'll generally need to provide proof of your company's registration, and sometimes a business plan or financial forecasts. Each bank will have its own requirements, so it's best to contact your chosen bank directly to find out what you need.


Registering a UK subsidiary as a European entrepreneur might seem like a challenging process, but by following these steps, you can navigate the process successfully. Each step, from deciding on your business structure to registering with Companies House and beyond, is crucial in setting up your subsidiary. Remember to seek professional advice if needed to ensure you fully understand each step and its implications for your business. Establishing a subsidiary in the UK can be a significant step in growing your business and accessing the potential benefits that the UK market offers. As always, the key is to do your research, plan carefully, and make informed decisions.