Choosing the right structure for doing business in Europe

Common business structures in the European Union

Many business structures that operate in the UK will also work in the European Union (EU).

Sole trader

Being a sole trader is the simplest way to set up a business in the EU. Registering is simple and you only need to keep basic financial records. You get to keep all profits - minus any taxes - but you will be personally liable for any debts.

Each member state has slightly different legislation, regulations and administration rules for setting up as a sole trader - usually in relation to a country's tax rules.

Find sole trader set-up information for specific countries.


Setting up a partnership in another EU country is similar to setting up a partnership in the UK.

Setting up a new company

Rules for starting up companies vary between each member state and you must ensure you are aware of these differences.

Read more about setting up a new business in the European Economic Area.

Expanding into the EU with an existing company

There are a number of ways you can expand your company into the EU. This business structure is often ideal for movement into other countries and there can be many benefits from expanding an existing company into the EU through these methods.

Read more about expanding into the European Union with an existing company.