London is a city of contrasts – ancient yet modern, slow yet fast, forward-thinking yet traditional.
Its prosperity today is built on centuries of trade and commercial innovation. Startup culture has long been part of London’s DNA, and opportunity exists everywhere.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through what to consider when starting a company in London.
We’ll cover everything from the city’s business culture and regulations to better banking options. Let’s get you up to speed.
Is London a good place to start a business?
London has a rich history of trade and commerce. For centuries, the city has attracted investors, entrepreneurs, and talent from across the globe. As a result, it has become an international travel hub and cultural capital.
By bridging global time zones and cultural borders, London is always open for business. Perhaps it’s not surprising that there are currently more businesses in the city than all other regions of the UK combined.
Looking to the future, the city is attracting the next generation of business owners. A 2022 survey by Forbes 30 under 30 named London the best City in the world for young entrepreneurs.
What is the market potential in London?
London alone accounts for around 22% of the UK’s economic output, equivalent to £503b annually. Together with the wider south east region, that rises to nearly £4 of every £10 produced. London truly is the economic engine of the UK.
Nine million people call London home, and over 30 million tourists visit each year.
With well-developed infrastructure to transport residents and visitors easily across the city, London offers a huge potential customer base to both new and established businesses.
But it’s not only about numbers: London’s diverse population directly drives the variety of economic opportunities.
With over one million active SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises) and thousands of sole traders, every type of business can succeed.
What is the business culture like in London?
Home to more billion-dollar startups than anywhere else in Europe, London is a city built by and for entrepreneurs. Businesses thrive thanks to an inclusive and innovative attitude towards work
London’s business culture combines traditional British values, like mutual respect and the rule of law, with a global outlook to create a uniquely fertile business environment.
English is the official language of the UK and is generally used in all business settings. Yet, with over 250 languages spoken, London is one of the world's most diverse cities.
At 3S Money, we pride ourselves on supporting clients from 190+ countries, when they need us most.
In a country known for its unique culture, scaling operations in the UK can be complicated. But fear not: getting familiar with the basics of UK business etiquette is a great place to start.
Can a foreigner start a business in the UK?
Yes, a foreigner can set up a business in the UK. Foreign owners can operate and trade in the UK, wherever they call home.
The company registration process is the same for residents and non-residents alike. This ease of administration further contributes to the UK’s inclusive business culture.
Registering a business in the UK helps owners access vital professional services. These services include traditional banking and alternative payment solutions.
What is the difference between London and the City of London?
London comprises two parts: Greater London and the City of London.
Known as the Square Mile, the City of London is an independent city and ceremonial county. It has its own government, mayor, and police force.
This is where you’ll find London’s central business district complete with its iconic architecture from the Bank of England’s stone columns to the Gherkin’s glass form.
The City of London is the heartbeat of the UK’s economy, generating over £70b in economic output each year. Its openness to foreign business and new ideas is an attitude reflected across the city.
Is London safe for businesses?
The UK is respected globally for its high business standards.
For over 300 years, London has been the financial centre of Europe, and English Common Law is the foundation of almost all international business regulations.
In London, businesses can scale confidently, supported by the world's most trusted economic infrastructure.
What regulations should I consider when doing business in London?
There are over 90 regulatory bodies in the UK. Many are independent organisations that focus on a specific business sector. When opening a business in London, it’s essential to make sure you comply with all relevant regulations.
Regulation nurtures fair and healthy competition between companies. It also motivates businesses to offer their customers the best possible service.
For example, 3S Money is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means we have a regulatory obligation to operate compliantly and legally.
How has Brexit impacted business in London?
On 1 January 2021, the UK officially left the European Economic Area (EEA) customs union. This means additional customs and accounting documentation is needed when trading in Europe.
All businesses looking to operate in London should familiarise themselves with all trade regulations.
A significant impact of Brexit was the end of ‘passporting’ rights for financial services. This left some of the UK’s biggest banks unable to continue offering business accounts for non-residents.
Thanks to our International Business Accounts, non-residents can hold UK, EU, and US account details without any residency requirements.
What support is available for new businesses in the UK?
The UK government offers a range of grants and loans for new businesses.
If you’re starting a new business venture in London, it’s worth considering these options. Businesses in London enjoy being at the heart of the UK’s venture capital scene. Since 2016, companies have raised over $34 billion in investment.
New business accelerators and community hubs provide a wealth of guidance and support.
At 3S Money, we know first-hand how valuable these professional networks can be.
Do business owners need a UK business bank account?
All limited companies must have a registered UK business account. As with starting a business, you can open a business account without being a UK resident.
London is at the heart of Europe’s Fintech community, so finding banking solutions won’t be a problem.
For businesses new to the UK or those looking to scale, having a UK business account is a powerful tool for growth. With a local account, it’s easier to pay overheads, salaries, and suppliers in British Pounds.
Yet, being able to handle foreign currency payments is essential – especially in London. A 3S Money online multi-currency account perfectly suits this multicultural city.