We use cookies on this site to ensure the most desirable user experience. By continuing to browse this website you are giving implied consent. Find out more.

Opening a representative office and an English bank account for a businessman from Portugal

Contents | Show more +

I have always liked to challenge myself. I believe that this is the only way to develop and reach new heights. Opening an office in the UK is another such challenge, which I successfully met thanks to Imperial & Legal's lawyers.

Gabriel, 27 years old
An entrepreneur from Portugal
Clients’ names and photos have been changed

Gabriel is a young entrepreneur. However, despite his age, he has tried a lot of different ideas – opening his own bar, selling luxury drinks, renting a machine to produce craft ice cream. But in the end, surprised everyone by entering the real estate business and began to make great success there. His youth, creativity, and networking skills helped him.

Where ordinary brokers saw only square metres and the number of bedrooms, Gabriel created whole stories, legends and myths. Of course, he did not deceive buyers about the technical characteristics of the flats and honestly told about all the advantages and disadvantages. But he supplemented this with fascinating, yet sincere and touching stories.

For example, he told about the previous owners, so that the buyers felt that they were getting not just an empty flat, but a family nest, where they loved, laughed, grieved, did stupid things, but were happy.

Or invented a legend about a lazy housekeeper, who at night liked to climb into the pantry and then always forgot to lock the door behind him – so the future owners received a cute character of domestic mythology, and an explanation of why the door creaks and does not want to close normally.

Gradually, Gabriel’s popularity grew, and thanks to word of mouth, he had a lot of clients who wanted to buy and sell houses with his help. So he could safely set a higher commission than his colleagues and still keep up with the demand.

But the young man’s eager nature constantly pushed him to seek new challenges. Gradually, Portugal was not enough for him, and he decided to conquer wider spaces. His choice fell on Foggy Albion as a romantic, but at the same time promising and solvent place. He had already been there several times and outlined interesting directions for business development. All that remained was to make it a reality.

Of course, he was not only a fantasist and a dreamer, but also a savvy entrepreneur, and therefore realised that the migration and tax authorities could not be fed with fairy tales, which meant that he needed to have a well thought-out legal and accounting strategy for opening a representative office and launching a new business. He turned to the experts at Imperial & Legal to help him with this task.

Our Client

Gabriel is 27 years old, an entrepreneur from Portugal, owner of a property agency.

The Challenge

Start up a UK office, ensure the client is permanently based in England and organise their relocation. In addition, bank accounts should be opened – both for the firm and personal accounts.

The Solution

We discussed Gabriel’s plans, found out what he planned to do after moving to the UK and registering the company, and decided to open a representative office as a subsidiary. Our lawyers considered that the UK Expansion Worker visa would be the best solution to achieve these objectives.

This is a non-immigrant type of visa, i.e. it cannot be used directly to obtain permanent residence and later citizenship. But it gives enough time to start a company and establish all business processes. A foreign manager can stay in the United Kingdom for 2 years on this visa.

Gabriel agreed that this was the best option for him. Especially as he didn’t plan to stay in the UK for too long. He hoped to train the team, build a client base, build a network of offices in all the major cities in England and then turn his attention to the next country. However, if business needs demanded it or his family wanted to live in the UK, he would have the opportunity to switch to a Skilled Worker visa during these 2 years and thus extend his stay in the UK, and in the long term, after another 5 years of residence, he could get a permanent residence permit.

Our lawyers also helped to collect all the documents for registering the representative office and formalising it with the tax authorities. A separate issue was opening an account for the company. The fact is that English retail banks have not been accepting applications from companies where the majority of shareholders are not resident in the UK for several years.

This could have been an obstacle, but Imperial & Legal helped to find a way around it. They set up an account for Gabriel’s firm’s representation in a payment system registered and operating under the English regulator. And that was only part of the plan.

Later, when the client had already found a house and moved to England, we were able to open an account for his company at Barclays Bank after confirming his postal address, as he was now resident in the country as a major shareholder. A personal account for household expenses was also opened at the same bank.

After that, there was no longer anything stopping the young man from developing his business in the UK and he was happy to immerse himself in new endeavours and challenges.

Gabriel obtained a UK Expansion Worker visa to England and set up the company in four and a half months

9 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 payment system
13 July
Gabriel opened a company and bank account in England


The English banking system is really quite picky about its customers and does not favour foreigners. This is due to the fact that in many cases, especially those involving commercial firms, banks are obliged to verify the origin of incoming funds and guarantee to the state that the client is not engaged in money laundering. Naturally, in the case of foreign citizens and branches of foreign companies, this is more difficult to do, so banks try not to take risks.

But nevertheless, there is a need for such accounts and therefore there are ways of dealing with such situations. In some cases a little more complex, but certainly legal and fully compliant with UK law. Of course, in such a situation, it is best to seek specialist help and advice on all the alternatives to traditional banks.

If you find yourself in this situation or have any other difficulties opening a UK bank account, Imperial & Legal can help you find the best solution and accompany you every step of the way to make sure everything goes well and be there for you if you have any questions.

Tired of getting general advice?

We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.