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Opening a corporate account for a foreign company setting up a representative office in England

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All my life I have been striving to see my business flourish and expand. When the construction and renovation niches in China were firmly occupied by my factories, I realised that I could think about other countries. The UK was chosen as an emerging and favourable location for business development. Imperial & Legal not only helped me set up a subsidiary branch and a local bank account, but also took care of the visa arrangements for me and my key employees.

Ma Shengli 57 years old
Director of a large Chinese construction holding company
Clients’ names and photos have been changed

Ma Shengli is a successful Chinese entrepreneur. He is one of the directors of a holding company, which includes several dozen factories. Sphere of production: construction and repair equipment. The lines produce pumps, welding machines, compressors, motor blocks and other similar units.

A significant proportion of goods produced are exported abroad – including to the UK. More often than not, trade takes place through intermediaries. Until a certain time, this was convenient for the holding company. Of course, distributors always wanted rather large discounts on products, but they provided a constant flow of orders.

However, over time, the company decided to abandon this strategy and start developing its own representative offices in key sales points. The management felt that this was a much more favourable policy in the long term.

Firstly, it allowed us to control the work with wholesale customers and not to depend on relationships with distributors. Secondly, the reduction of an unnecessary intermediate link reduced the cost of goods and made them more competitive and affordable for customers. 

In addition, the manufacturer was planning to launch a large marketing campaign to popularise the brand abroad, and this required local specialists well versed in the specifics of the market.

Thus, it was decided to set up four branches, including one in England, as this country accounted for a fairly large share of exports. According to calculations, the expected turnover in the UK in the first year of operation would have to be at least 10 million pounds. But first of all, it was necessary to formalise all the necessary legal formalities. Representatives of the Chinese holding company approached us with this task.

After discussing the matter with our lawyers, it was decided to open a subsidiary company in England and for the employee and three other employees of the holding company to use the UK Expansion Worker programme, under which they would come to the UK and start developing the work of the English office.

Our Clients

Large manufacturer of industrial machinery from China.

The Challenge

Register a trade representative office, arrange visas for key employees, open a corporate bank account.

The Solution

Imperial & Legal experts helped a parent company to register a branch in the form of a subsidiary in Foggy Albion. They prepared the articles of association, memorandum of association and other necessary documents, as well as provided the business address. With these documents, the client, accompanied by our lawyers, applied to the UK Registration Chamber and obtained the right to operate in the UK without any problems.

Our specialists also took care of the legalisation of the senior staff who arrived from China to set up the new office. As already mentioned, a UK Expansion Worker visa was issued for the branch director and three other employees, which allows him to stay in the UK permanently for two years and supervise the work of the representative office.

Following the relocation of key staff on the UK Expansion Worker visa and the setting up of the English office, an additional licence under the Skilled Worker visa and Senior or Specialist Worker visa categories was planned in order to be able to bring in different specialists to work in the English office as and when required.

But Chinese clients saw the main difficulty in opening a bank account, as UK banks are notoriously wary of non-residents. Usually retail banks do not accept applications from companies where the majority of the beneficiaries are not resident in the UK. However, in this case, as the company’s business was quite large and turnover was expected to be high, we were able to open an account in the corporate division of one of the largest UK banks.

Within a few months, the office was fully operational and gave a new impetus to its parent organisation, which gained new stable customers and was able to expand production. In addition, the presence of the UK office made the company more solid in the eyes of its partners, which had a favourable effect on deal-making and further development.

Ma Shengli registered a representative office in England and opened a bank account in four and a half months

11 March
Applying to Imperial & Legal
+2 days
Registration of a subsidiary
+3 weeks
Preparation of documents and application for sponsor licence
+8 weeks
Obtaining a sponsor licence
+1 day
Applying for UK Expansion Worker visa
+3 days
Biometric data submission
+4 weeks
Obtaining a UK Expansion Worker visa
+2 weeks
Opening a bank account with a corporate bank
25 July
A company with a bank account in England is set up


Opening a representative office of a foreign company in the UK is a rather troublesome but worthwhile endeavour. However, it is better that all the steps are supervised by specialists who are constantly engaged in such activities and know all the subtleties and nuances of this process.

This will help not only to avoid mistakes, unforeseen difficulties and even possible fines, but also to solve problems that at first glance seem insurmountable. In particular, many foreign entrepreneurs spend a great deal of nerves, time and effort trying to convince the bank of their trustworthiness. Indeed, financial institutions in Britain are quite “capricious”. But it is still possible to find a common language with them if professionals take on the job.

Imperial & Legal specialists will help you to draw up all the necessary documents quickly, correctly and at minimal cost.

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