Buying a business – the rules for non-UK citizens

If you intend to buy or start a business in the UK and you are not a British citizen, there are certain criteria you must fulfil.

You must have at least £200,000 under your control, which is disposable in the UK and held in your name, and you must also have sufficient additional funds to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependents adequately without recourse to public funds, or taking employment.

The rules for starting or buying a UK business

The .gov website section on Visas and Immigration, can provide you with useful information regarding staying in the UK. Marcus Markou, managing director of Businessesforsale.com, provides the following advice for starting or buying a business:

“You must also prove that you intend to be actively involved full-time in trading or providing services on your own account or in partnership, or in the promotion and management of the company as a director. You must also intend to provide investment and services for which there is a genuine need in the UK,” explains Markou.

You must also not take or seek any other employment in the UK other than your work for the business.

Taking over an existing business?

A written statement of the terms on which you will join or take over the business will need to be provided, alongside audited accounts from the business for previous years.

“You also need to provide evidence that your services and investment will result in a net increase in employment provided by the business and thereby create at least two new full-time jobs for persons already settled in the UK,” elaborates Markou.

He adds that you also need to bear in mind the ‘European Community (EC) Association Agreement’. Certain nationals may apply for entry clearance to establish themselves in business under the provisions of the EC Association Agreement. People qualifying for this agreement do not require work permits. Countries include Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic.

Visa requirements

Non-British residents intending to establish/buy a business must have a visa before they travel to the UK – if they do not they will be refused entry. Visas are issued at British missions overseas.

A visa application form will need to be completed. A valid passport, two recent passport-sized photographs and the visa fee will need to be provided. Once an application has been made, the Entry Clearance Officer will check that he or she has all the information needed to make a decision. If more information is required you may be asked to submit additional documentation before your application is accepted.

You can find out more about visas at the .gov.uk site.

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