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For a second year in a row, the UK has taken the number one spot on Forbes’ list of the Best Countries for Business. The UK earned the top spot on the strength of its workforce, innovation and lack of red tape. If you’re thinking about expanding your business overseas, here’s why you should consider the UK as a destination.

London skyline at night

UK still a hot spot for business, despite Brexit

The UK is the best country to do business in 2019 according to Forbes’ 13th annual ranking of Best Countries for Business. Forbes included 161 countries on this year’s list. These were measured on their openness to capital investment, as well as the following factors:

  • Property rights
  • Innovation
  • Taxes
  • Technology
  • Corruption
  • Infrastructure
  • Market size
  • Political risk
  • Quality of life
  • Workforce
  • Freedom (personal, trade and monetary)
  • Red tape
  • Investor protection

The rating factors used for 2019 were updated with the addition of workforce, infrastructure, market size, quality of life and political risk. Market performance was removed as a factor. The UK is the only country to rank among the top 30 nations for each of these 15 factors.

The UK is open for business 

The UK’s business-friendly laws and regulations make it a favourite destination for entrepreneurs who want to set up or expand their business internationally. Compared to other developed countries, the UK has the lowest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Corporate Tax in the UK is only 19%, compared to other countries such as Germany (30-33%), France (34%), Australia (27.5%) and the USA (21%).

The UK’s $2.8 trillion economy is the fifth largest in the world, with London serving as the central hub for financial services. The unemployment rate is currently 0.4%, the lowest it’s been since 1975.

Entrepreneurs are needed

Entrepreneurs play a key role in creating jobs and driving economic growth in the UK. This year, the Home Office is launching two new visa routes for foreign entrepreneurs looking to set up a business in the UK. These are the Start-up visa and the Innovator visa.

For both visas you will need to get approval from a government appointed endorsing body. This can be UK higher education institutions or organisations with a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs. In addition, you will also need to show that your business is innovative, viable and scalable.

Who qualifies for a Start-up visa

This visa is aimed at foreign entrepreneurs who have never owned a business in the UK. You don’t need a university degree to qualify for the Start-up visa, making it attractive to entrepreneurs. All that is required is an endorsement from a university or an approved business sponsor.

You also do not need to hold funds to invest in your business. This visa also allows you to take on work outside of your business to support yourself financially.

The Start-up visa is valid for two years and you can bring family members with you to the UK. Should you wish to remain in the UK after your visa has expired, you can extend your stay in the UK by switching to the Innovator category.

The Innovator visa

This visa is designed for experienced businesspeople wanting to establish a business in the UK. To be eligible, you will need to have access to at least £50,000 in investment funds.

It is valid for three years and will allow you to bring dependants with you to the UK. After three years, you may extend your stay for a further three years and thereafter apply to settle permanently in the UK.

Establishing a company in the UK

The work involved in launching a business in a foreign country can be daunting, but the rewards can be considerable. The lower taxes and generally business-friendly legislative framework are big wins for anyone thinking about choosing the UK to set up a business. What’s more, establishing a business in the UK is a great path to residency, and ultimately citizenship, for you and your family. 

We often find that new UK businesses need assistance with the financial and legal essentials at this crucial stage. Our UK business start-up services can assist with everything from setting up your company to payroll and tax.


There's never been a better time to expand to the UK, and we can assist you every step of the way. Get in touch with our UK-based business experts on ukbusiness@sableinternational.com.

We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you'll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.