How to launch a business in the UK as international students!

The UK remains an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs to open their business offering political stability (believe it or not!), open marketplace, robust economy, the lowest corporation and personal tax and cultural diversity in London (Nacue, 2018). Therefore, there is no surprise that UK is a hub of international startup activity.

In fact, more than 216,000 new businesses were registered in Greater London on 2018, 6.45% increase over the previous year (Dwyer, 2019). Most of them, founded by international entrepreneurs launching their startups after graduating from university.

1. Starting a business:

As students, most of you might be under a Tier 4 Visa, which does not allow you to officially register a company, but it’s perfect to start developing your business idea: talking to potential customers about your idea while doing some market research, creating social media accounts to start getting to know your brand, testing your branding and logos, start putting together your business plan and research about your competitors and understand what will differentiate your idea amongst the others. Take advantage of the number of events that your university, as well as the rest of the universities in the UK, offer to networking and learn from other startups. (If you need help on how to start your business idea, here's an article that might be of interest

Being a student in an UK university has its advantages (Nacue, 2018). You have access to great resources and facilities available in your university’s library that will help you build your market research as well as being around teachers and mentors that could guide you through the next steps for your business idea. Just ask!

2. Get to know your possibilities

Once you have started working on your business you will probably come to the question we all ask ourselves: “What’s next if I want to establish my business in the UK?”. This might be one of the most scariest and most incomprehensible part - at least for non-lawyers students.

There are different visa options that could help you pursue your business as foreign. However, one of the biggest advantages of studying in the UK is having the opportunity to apply for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. For this, you need to be sponsored by an UK recognised body, in this case your university, that would verify that your business and ideas are credible.

According to Home Office (, 2019), this visa has a 48 percent application refusal rate due to the strict criteria that might be difficult for startups to satisfy and the competition amongst students is high. Bear in mind, that there are 2,000 available spots in the UK for entrepreneurs divided into the different universities in the UK. This leads each university to have a small number of available spaces, sometimes between 20- 30 people per year. No pressure at all!

3. After finishing your course

Once you have updated your migration status from Tier 4 Visa to any of the options available, you should start setting up your company either as a Limited Company or Sole Trader. In both cases, you will need an address for tax purposes and your business name. You should also start thinking about registering your company’s name and logo under the Trade Mark.

After 28 days, you will receive a code in order to register with HM Revenue and Customs for tax purposes and are responsible for submitting your own tax returns. Take into account that you have to update HMRC when your company starts actively trading. Licenses, insurance and other rules to follow might be taking into account once your business is legally incorporated.

After mentioning the best way students have to pursue their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, you must understand that it’s not easy to start your business here. It requires a lot of effort, discipline and creativity. Nobody has ever said that starting your own business is easy, but look around and see how many people actually take the risk by believing in themselves and their own ideas. If you think you have a great idea, don’t doubt about taking the first step of the journey. It’s never too late to make a big decision.


-2019, S., Finals, V., Finalists, M., 2018!, U., Make, 3., Hear from our amazing sponsor Lloyds Banking Group, s., 2018, S., Startup, W., 2016, W., 2, V. and Conference, T. (2019). International Students: 5 Tips On How To Launch Your Business in the UK. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].

-Expat Guide to the United Kingdom | Expatica. (2019). Starting a business in the UK - Expat Guide to the United Kingdom | Expatica. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].

-GOV.UK. (2019). Sirius Programme for graduate entrepreneurs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].

-GOV.UK. (2019). Graduate Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1). [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Mar. 2019].

-Lander Hawes. (2019). International Students: 5 tips on how to launch a UK business. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019]. (2019). [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].

-Morris, A. (2019). U.K. Set to Welcome More Foreign Entrepreneurs Thanks to New Start Up Visa. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].

-Dwyer, M. (2019). Startups flock to the capital with record number hitting London streets. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019]. (2019). International Students: How to start your own business in the UK after graduation ?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].

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