The UK’s universal language of business, highly skilled employees and wealth of opportunities across many thriving industry sectors position it as a hotbed for foreign investment.
Covid-19 latest information
This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in the UK. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in August 2020.
After opening our first office in London over 150 years ago, the UK has become home to the global headquarters of the HSBC Group, where an extensive branch network supports the needs of personal and business customers. The shape of this business in the UK continues to evolve with the recent move to our new Birmingham Head Office in 2018.
With the world’s largest financial centre, a flexible market and a thriving entrepreneurial culture, the UK is a perfect location for businesses to explore their international potential. This, alongside a highly developed transportation network, enables the country to serve enterprises of all shapes and sizes.
As Brexit discussions continue, we will keep you updated on what this means for doing business in the UK and the impact on your industry sector.
I look forward to working with you.
Head office address: 1 Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 1HQ
1 World Bank Group, 2020
2 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2018
3 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2019
4 Office for National Statistics, 2019
5 UK Government, 2018
* Map shows cities of economic significance according to the CIA, 2019
All indices represent the latest 2018/19 rankings
for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)
The UK’s largest export is its financial services sector. The City, based in the heart of London, is home to some of the world’s most important finance institutions and is considered by many as the global FS epicentre.
Long established as the world’s fifth largest economy, the UK attracts more foreign investment to its shores than any other European nation. English is also the global language of business.
At 19%, the UK's corporation tax rate is below that of most of its core competitors. As a comparison, the average of the rest of the G7 leading economies is almost 30%.
More companies set up their businesses in the UK than anywhere else in Europe. The World Bank ranks the UK as the second easiest place to operate a business in the region.
There is a thriving entrepreneurial culture in the UK. The UK's tech start-up scene was the fastest growing in Europe between 2013 and 2018.
With a long-established stable political democracy in place, the UK also ranks highly among its peers for anti-corruption.
In the 19th Century, the UK (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) was known as the ‘workshop of the world’ – producing items more efficiently and competitively than anywhere else.
Today, this proud island nation continues to lead the way in many industries; from its thriving services sector, to high-tech manufacturing, finance, technology and more.
It may now be better known for Big Ben, black cabs and the Beatles. Yet, it is business that oils the UK’s wheels. This is helped by low tax rates, a reasonably well-educated workforce and stable government. Not to mention excellent transport links.
London may, at first, appear to dominate the UK’s political, cultural and economic landscape. After all, it generates 22% of UK GDP, despite accounting for just 12.5% of the population.
The UK is steeped in history and tradition and today boasts a truly multicultural society. Sitting on Europe’s doorstep, with historic links to many Commonwealth countries, it is a global leader and an ideal business destination for international organisations.
Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in the UK. Also find out how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your enterprise.
Despite having some of the lowest corporate tax rates across the globe, the UK’s tax system can be tricky to negotiate. It takes 110 hours for a medium-sized company to prepare, file and pay its taxes each year.
The pace of negotiation with some UK companies can be hard to predict. The decision-making process at some more traditional companies can appear slow, so it’s worth factoring in plenty of time for negotiations.
The UK does not have one legal system. Instead, there is one system for England and Wales, a second for Scotland and a third for Northern Ireland.
The World Bank cites registering a property as the most arduous task in setting up a business in the UK, involving an average of six procedures and taking 29 days to complete.