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United Kingdom (UK) Offshore Company

The United Kingdom (UK) offers several offshore company formation vehicles, used for a variety of business endeavors. While the UK is not considered an offshore tax haven, it has many attributes that are similar to your traditional haven for non-resident companies.

The Private Limited Company (PLC) is the most widely used and gives individuals and companies the most flexibility out of all the other company types. Private Limited Companies are under the regulation of UK Companies Act 1985 which is the latest act that governs the formation of English Companies.

There are two main types of UK Private Limited Companies, those that are limited by shares and those limited by guarantee, the former being the most common. There are over two million such companies registered with the UK Companies House, making the UK and the UK Ltd Company a long-established destination for commercial and business activities. The second ost popular structure is the UK LLP which is similar to an LLC (but still quiet different).

The UK is a signatory to over 100 different forms of treaties and is a premier financial and banking financial centre. Its numerous trade advantages, proximity to the European Union, and its double taxation treaties all give UK companies an edge in the globalizing world of commercial and financial business.

Though the UK is a country that has traditional business regulations in a high-tax environment, they too offer corporate entities for non-resident with tax neutral possibilities, making the UK the next best thing in the offshore jurisdiction world.

UK Companies Act

The UK Companies Act goes back to 1985. Legislation has been amended twice since then, in response to the ever-evolving global financial marketplace. A UK Private Limited Company is a separate legal entity that remains distinct from its members and directors.

All individuals and entities affiliated with a UK PLC have limited liability that protects them from being held personally liable for the debts incurred on the part of the company; making the maximum liability limited to the amount of capital or issued shares. This attractive company formation structure gives single-member companies and small businesses an opportunity to attract potential investors and gives legal and financial protection to members and shareholders alike.

For more information on the Advantages of the United Kingdom as an Offshore Financial Center, click here.

Table of Contents:

Advantages of Setting up a Limited Company in the UK as a Non-Resident

  • Single-member ownership is available
  • Nominee Services are permissible
  • The UK has numerous Double Taxation treaties
  • The UK has over 100 trade agreements in place
  • A world-leading financial centre
  • Access to various trade markets in the European Union (EU)
  • A private limited company has a separate legal existence from its members
  • A Limited company legitimizes itself for many business activities
  • A UK private limited company has a strong and structured shareholder conflict resolution procedure in place
  • Simply transferability procedures of ownership of shares.
  • A number of national insurance benefits.
  • Limited Liability status gives credibility to suppliers and customers from the transparency of the UK company system
  • Business expenses can be claimed against tax


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Top Uses

  • Commercial Activities
  • Trading House
  • Holding Company
  • International investment Company
  • Asset Protection

Key Corporate Features

UK Private Limited Company Corporate Details
Type of Entity Private Limited Company
Type of Law Common Law
Governed by UK Companies Act 1985
Amended in 1985 and 2006
Registered Office in UK
Shelf company availability Yes
Our time to establish a new company 1 – 2 business days
Minimum government fees (excludes taxation) £15
Corporate Taxation 20 – 28%
Access to Double Taxation Treaties Yes
Share capital or equivalent  
Standard currency GBP, £
Permitted currencies Any
Minimum paid up £1
Usual authorized £ 1,000
Bearer shares allowed No
No par value shares allowed No
Minimum number One
Local required No
Publicly accessible records Yes
Location of meetings Anywhere
Corporate directorship allowed Yes *(but needs at least one individual)
Minimum number One
Publicly accessible records Yes
Corporate shareholder allowed Yes
Location of meetings Anywhere
Company Secretary  
Required No
Local or qualified No
Requirements to prepare Yes
Audit requirements Yes  *(small companies are exempt)
Requirements to file accounts Yes
Publicly accessible accounts Yes
Recurring Government Costs  
Minimum Annual Tax  N/A
Annual Return Filing Fee £ 15, electronic submission
£ 30, for hardcopy
Requirement to file annual return Yes
Migration of domicile permitted Yes (subject to approval be Inland Revenue)

Company Package


  1. Government Registration Fee (First year)
  2. Registered Office Address (First year)
  3. Registered Agent Services (First year)
  4. Company Secretarial Maintenance
  5. Certificate of Incorporation
  6. Memo & Articles of Association
  7. Appointment of 1st Directors
  8. Consent Actions of the BOD
  9. Share Certificates
  10. Register of Directors
  11. Register of Officers
  12. Register of Shareholders
  13. FREE Phone and/or email consultations 

Registration Requirements

To open a company in the UK, you must first register the company in the UK with the following mandatory details:

  • Certified copy of passport
  • Names and details of directors
  • Details of shareholders and share capital
  • Registration fee
  • The Company’s name and registered address (if pre-existing)
  • Articles of Association and Company Memorandum
  • Completed IN01 Form

Tax Rates for a Private Limited Company

UK incorporation regulations require Private Limited Companies to pay UK Corporation Tax at a rate of 20 – 28%, which is determined after a company has filed their annual returns. Company Directors are also liable to pay UK income tax for any profits from the company. No taxes are paid on the dividends of a holding company and there is no double taxation on dividends distributed through to EU member countries.

After setting up a company in the UK and going through the incorporation process, a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number will be issued by the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which will be sent to the Company’s registered address. The HMRC will instruct you how to register your company, file the company accounts and pay corporate taxes.

What is the VAT Rate in the UK?

The Standard VAT rate in the UK is 20%.

The VAT Reduced rate is 5% and applies to some goods and services, such as children’s car seats and home energy.

If a company does not have an annual turnover of more than GBP 67,000, then Registration of VAT is not required. A Company that does register can collect a number of benefits through registration, such as the ability to reclaim input tax and collect VAT from customers. Companies register through the (HMRC) website.

Some things are exempt from UK VAT, such as postage stamps, financial and property transactions. The VAT rate businesses charge depends on their goods and services. Check the rates of VAT on different goods and services.

How to set up a Company?

In order to see up a UK company a few documents will be needed:

  1. Register and secure name of the proposed company
  2. Memorandum and Articles of Association
  3. Certificate of Incorporation
  4. Appointment of a company director(s)
  5. Registry of members and directors
  6. Share Certificate(s)

We can help to prepare and file all documents that you might need. 

Company Registration Process

In order to register a company, this is what the process will look like:

  • Step 1 Offshore Protection works with you to secure a company name with the Company Registry
  • Step 2 Offshore Protection works with you to get a Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Step 3 Offshore Protection helps you to prepare and file incorporation documents
  • Step 4 Offshore Protection helps to prepare KYC and AML documents needed to open a corporate bank account
  • Step 5 Offshore Protection delivers the certificate of incorporation

Corporate Bank Account

You can open a corporate bank account in most countries around the world with a UK company. We have banking connections in dozens of countries, though the ones we recommend will be dependent on your situation as some banks require in-person visits, higher capital, more due diligence, and references, while others have minimal requirements.

We suggest getting in touch for a consultation as there are many variables that go into finding the best place to open a bank account for your company.


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Corporate Details: Starting a Limited Company

Anonymity, Confidentiality and Disclosure

The details, information and names of all Directors and shareholders are made publically available. All financial and accounting records are publically available. The details of the beneficial owner are kept confidential. Nominee services are allowed, which can make names and details of shareholders and directors confidential.

Company Shares

A UK Private Limited Company may issue registered, preference, and redeemable shares and shares with or without voting rights, the details of which should be stated in the Companies formation documents.

Required Capital

The minimum paid up share capital for a UK Private Limited Company is GBP 1 with a usual authorized amount of GBP 1,000. Capital is usually denoted in the form of shares with one share being the minimum.

Financial Statements required

All UK Companies must file accounts with thee Register of Companies and the Inland Revenue. Companies that qualify as small companies, i.e. those with an annual turnover of less than GBP 5.6 million, may not need to have accounts audited and may apply for an audit exemption.


The minimum number of Directors needed for a UK Private Limited Company is one (1), who does not need to be a resident of the UK and may reside anywhere in the world and be of any nationality. Corporate Directors are allowed, however, a company must have at least one director who is an individual.

Company Secretary

A Private Limited Company does not require a secretary. If it is a single member company then the director can be the secretary.

Company Meetings

Company meetings are not required and, if meetings take place, they may be anywhere in the world.

Principal Corporate Legislation

UK Private Limited Companies are regulated by the UK Companies Act 1985 and its amendments in 1989 and 2006


    list of offshore company formation structures_copy.jpg

Type of Law

English Common Law


There is minimum of one shareholder required for a UK Private Limited Company. A shareholder may be an individual or a corporate body and may be a resident and citizen of any country. Shareholders do not need to be local. Information and details of shareholders are made available to the public. Nominee services are permissible.

Trading Restrictions

A Company is restricted from conducting business in banking, insurance, consumer credit and all other activities in the finance industry.

Exchange Controls

There are no exchange controls in the UK.

Powers of the Company

A UK Private Limited Company has the same rights as a natural person.

Language of legislation and Corporate Documents

English or Welsh

Registered Office required

A registered office is required for a UK Company.

Local Presence

A local office Is required for all UK companies. Local Directors, Shareholders and Secretary are not mandatory. A list of all the shareholders must be held at the local registered office.

Audit Requirements

UK Companies are required to submit audited accounts, though all companies earning less than GBP 5.6 million can apply for an audit exemption

Annual Reporting

All UK Companies must file and annual return and annual accounts the UK Inland Revenue every year no matter if a company has traded or not

Shelf Companies available


Time required to form offshore company

1 – 2 days

Name Restrictions

An UK company may not use similar or identical names that are already in use, any name that suggests patronage of the Royal family or the UK government, any name that is undesirable or seen as being offensive

Names of Company requiring a special licence or permission

Company names that include the words assurance, bank, building society, insurance, reinsurance, are required to get prior approval from the UK Company Register

Permitted limited liability suffixes

A UK Private Limited Company must have the suffix Limited or Ltd.

Access to Double Tax Treaties

The United Kingdom has signed a number of double taxation treaties which can greatly benefit companies avoid paying double taxes

Minimum Annual Tax


uk plc


Why do businesses register a company in the United Kingdom?

Businesses register a company in the United Kingdom because international corporate structures provide asset protection and tax reduction possibilities that are found only in non-resident legal structures. The UK offers both a safe and stable jurisdiction with a favorable tax regime for nonresident companies giving companies a business-friendly corporate environment. 

The government and regulatory bodies seek to attract regional and international businesses by providing business-friendly policies to attract investors and entrepreneurs into the country.

How much does it cost to start a company?

UK company registration costs vary, which is why we do not include them on our website. Prices depend on the legal and corporate services required, as well as secretary, auditing and signatory services which are often needed (though not always) if you are incorporating a non-resident company.

Registration and incorporation fees for 1st-year companies vary anywhere from 1000-5000USD with 2nd-year fees ranging anywhere from 500-2000USD. However, even these figures are not always the case, as all of this depends on the services required, so beware of any service provider that states their fees exactly, as you will be disappointed in seeing that number change. Get in touch for a price quote.

Can I open a business bank account for my company?

Opening a business bank account is definitely possible and is one of the main reasons why businesses open a foreign corporation in the first place. However, it often can be the most challenging part of any offshore incorporation process because of the requirements and documents needed in order to satisfy Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) laws.

That being said, some jurisdictions are harder than others and we will assist you through the entire process.

Can Offshore Protection create a company for me?

Yes, we can! Offshore Protection has been establishing companies around the world for nearly three decades. We have engaged in client legal and corporate services, including opening companies, offshore trusts, getting financial licenses, and accounts in dozens of countries around the world. Get in touch to find out more.

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Join thousands of satisfied clients who have experienced the Offshore Protection advantage for more than 28 years. When you purchase any offshore company formation products, you'll get FREE support from our lawyers to help answer your overseas company day-to-day management questions.

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***Please Note: If you are a resident of a country that is a signatory of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) (or a US citizen) your tax reduction possibilities are limited. Due FATCA, CRS, and CFC laws you may not be able to completely eliminate your taxes without moving your residence. While opening an offshore company can increase privacy and asset protection, your tax obligations remans tied to your ownership of overseas entities. Offshore company's are often not taxed in the country where they are incorporated, rather you as the owner are obligated to pay taxes in the country where you reside. Please make sure you know your tax obligations, as we are not tax advisors. Please seek a local tax professional for help regarding your situation. 

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