Choosing the right structure for doing business in Europe

Setting up a new business in the European Economic Area

Entrepreneurs can set up a company in any European Union (EU) country. However, each EU member state has its own business start-up rules that you must comply with.

To make it easier, faster and cheaper to set up a new business, the EU introduced a point of single contact for each member state. This requires all EU member states to simplify all business start up procedures. All the necessary paperwork - eg authorisations, notifications, licences etc - can be done through points of single contact.

Before starting up a business in another EU country you should think about your business plan. Things to consider are:

  • national regulations and legislation - they may differ from UK start-up regulations
  • strengths and weaknesses - highlight your business' strengths and improve its weaknesses
  • risks - check your company is financially secure enough to absorb the costs of starting up in a new country
  • the experience of others - get advice from as many people as you can
  • getting support - see European Union financial support

Read more about how to prepare a business plan.

Before preparing a business plan, you should consider market research for the country you intend to expand into or set up in. See entering overseas markets.

Certain member states have national advice services that will be able to provide advice for starting up a business in that country.

Read more about common business structures in the European Union.