How to Register a Company in the UK vs. China: A Step-by-Step Guide

Company Registration: UK vs. China

Setting up a business requires a comprehensive understanding of the registration procedures of the respective country. Let’s dissect the process in the UK and China, two prominent global economies, to grasp the intricacies involved.

United Kingdom

1. Choose a Company Name

  • The name must be unique and not similar to any existing company's name. It cannot be misleading or contain any sensitive word sunless permission is granted.

2. Decide on a Company Structure

  • The most common for startups and SMEs is a 'PrivateLimited Company' (Ltd).
  • Other types include Public Limited Company (PLC), SoleTrader, and Partnership.

3. Register with Companies House

  • You can register online, by post, or through agents or software providers.
  • You need to provide a registered office address (in the UK), details of directors, details of shareholders, and a Memorandum and Articles of Association.

4. Fee

  • As of 2022, online registration cost £12 and took 24 hours. Postal applications cost £40 and took 8-10 days.

5. Get a Certificate of Incorporation

  • This confirms the company legally exists and shows the company number and date of formation.


1. Name Pre-approval

  • Before registering your company, you must get the company name pre-approved by the local Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC).
  • The name generally follows a format: [Location][Name][Industry][Company Structure].

2. Decide on a Company Structure

  • Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) is the most common for foreign investors. Other types include Joint Venture (JV) and Representative Office.

3. Business License Application

  • Submit application materials to the AIC. Materials include: pre-approved company name, lease agreement for the company’s office, and identification of initial investors and key personnel.

4. Fee

  • Varies based on business type and location. Generally, a WFOE might require anywhere between ¥15,000 to ¥30,000, but it's essential to check current rates and requirements.

5. Obtain Business License

  • Once approved, the AIC issues a five-in-one business license. This license combines the company's tax registration, organization code, business license, social security, and statistical registration into one integrated document.

6. Post-registration Procedures

  • After obtaining the business license, there are additional steps, including carving the company chop (seal), opening a local bank account, and registering for tax.


While the UK's company registration is more streamlined and faster, China’s process, though comprehensive, provides a structured framework tailored for its unique economic landscape. Both processes ensure businesses are set up on a solid legal footing. For East Asian founders looking to navigate these waters, FounderX offers guidance every step of the way, ensuring your company’s foundation is robust and compliant.

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