How to set up a company in Scotland

When you set up a business in Scotland, you’ll need to consider which company structure to use. It’s important you choose the right structure for your particular business.

Registering your company

Registering a company in Scotland is simple. You can register as a private limited company online in just 24 hours.

Alternatively, you can register a UK establishment of your existing overseas company. This takes longer – usually about four weeks – because you need to submit extra documents and information.

How to register your business in the UK

Choosing how to structure your business

There are several ways you can structure your business in Scotland, depending on how you intend to do business.

The most widely used corporate structures are:

  • Sole trader - self-employed people usually operating a small-scale business
  • Partnership - including Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited company - either a private limited company (Ltd) or a public / listed company (PLC)

Choosing the right legal structure is important because it will affect how you run your business, the control you have over it, and your legal obligations such as personal liability of the directors of the company. A lawyer or accountant can help you decide what’s best for you.

Directors and partners

Unlike other jurisdictions, there is no requirement under UK company law to have a 'local' director. Nor is there any requirement to enter into a relationship with a local partner/shareholder to carry out business in the UK.

Get advice

A solicitor or accountant can provide advice to help you decide which structure is best for your business. 

Business Gateway offers a range of support to help you set up your business and provides detailed online guidance on each type of company structure.

Legal structures guidance from Business Gateway

In this section

Business tax

Scottish taxation is mostly governed by UK law and administered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). But local taxes, like business rates, are controlled by the Scottish Government and administered by local authorities. Find out about tax requirements and competitive rates for your business.

Professional and legal advice

Professional advice can be invaluable when you’re setting up your business. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland and Law Society of Scotland can help advise you on tax, legal and insurance requirements.

National minimum wage and salaries in Scotland

Salaries in Scotland vary according to the type of work, the sector and where the job is located. The National Minimum Wage is the minimum rate you must pay your employees. There are now 2,190 Real Living Wage employers in Scotland.

Immigration and visas

Find information about different visa options if you want to relocate to or invest in Scotland.

If you have any questions and would like to talk with one of our advisers, we're ready to help.