KNOWLEDGE BASE

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Utilising the United Kingdom

The UK Agency Company The UK LLP

THE UK AGENCY COMPANY

The UK Agency company is a popular vehicle within the field of international trade.

The rationale behind the use of such an entity is that the Company, fully liable for UK corporate tax, undertakes business for and on behalf of a non-resident Principal.

The concept of the structure is that the Principal, who has the knowledge, know-how and business acumen, engages an independent UK company to act as its agent for some or all of its international business. The UK Company in turn will enter into trading agreements with customers of the Principal to buy or supply goods from or to third parties for and on behalf of the Principal.

Generally a formal agreement is entered into between the Principal and the UK Company, which would entitle the UK Company to a fee relating to the services that it is requested to perform. All trading operations are executed by the UK Company for and on behalf of the Principal.

The fee charged by the UK Company would be an amount that reflects the responsibility and work undertaken by the UK Company on behalf of the Principal. This fee will be retained by the UK Company to cover its operational and administrative costs. The profit element of the fee will then be subject to UK corporation tax at 20-24%. An acceptable fee, chargeable by the UK Company would be between 5-10% of gross turnover or profit, whichever is the greater. The balance of the trade would be for the account of the Principal.

If trading occurs within the European Union and the turnover of the UK Company exceeds the threshold for VAT registration purposes of £77,000 the UK Company would be obliged to register for VAT within the UK. A UK company can voluntarily register for VAT should the turnover be below the stated threshold as long as it can demonstrate that it intends to turnover more than the threshold amount.

VAT Registration is an important feature when trading in the European Union as this is the only method of facilitating cross-border triangulation without the need to charge VAT to other corporate bodies within other member States. Put simply, if a UK Company issues a VAT invoice to another Company based in another European Union member State and as long as the recipient company’s VAT/TVA number is quoted on the same invoice the supply can be zero rated.

Back to top

Operational Case Study

The UK Company enters into agreements, on behalf of the Principal, to buy shoes from a Portuguese shoe manufacturer and supply the same to an Italian fashion group.

The Portuguese company will invoice the UK Company for the market value of the shoes, quoting their respective VAT number and reflecting the UK Company’s VAT number on their invoice, thus zero rating the supply.

The UK Company in turn will request that the goods be delivered to a Freeport where they will take title of the goods and tranship the stores to Italy.

At this time the UK Company will issue an invoice to the Italian fashion group, again reflecting the UK Company’s VAT number and that of the Italian Company, in order to zero rate the supply for VAT purposes. The stores are thus delivered with all documentation reflecting the UK Company and not the original supplier.

Once the goods have been received and accepted in Italy, the Italian fashion group will pay the invoice received from the UK Company direct into the bank account of by the UK Company.

On receipt of the funds, the UK Company will in turn settle the invoice received from the Portuguese Company.

The remaining funds, less the agreed fee for the UK Company, will be remitted to the Principal.

Potential Issues

  • It is advisable that this structure is not utilised for trading in the UK, as UK sourced income would be subject to taxation.
  • It is recommended that the Directors and shareholders of the UK Company and Principal are not connected, and the majority of the board of directors are not UK resident.
  • Any agreements that the UK Company enters into on behalf of the Principal should be signed outside the UK by one of the non-UK resident directors.
  • A certificate of tax residence may be required in order to avoid withholding taxes.
  • It is a requirement for all UK Private Limited Companies to file annual accounts with the Inland Revenue and the Registry.

THE UK LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP

The United Kingdom Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) was introduced by the UK Government in 2000. It is a separate legal entity and a body corporate, has all the functionality of a Private Limited Company but is taxed as if it were a Partnership.

The United Kingdom Tax Authorities have confirmed that the taxation base will follow the procedure operated in the past for Partnerships. The income and capital gains of an LLP are thus treated as income attributable to the members and therefore the UK LLP can be utilised as a tax efficient vehicle for international trade on the proviso that that there is no UK sourced income and the members are non resident of the United Kingdom there would be no liability to UK taxation.

Back to top

Operational Case Study

A United Kingdom LLP has 95% of its members based in a low tax area such as the Isle of Man or British Virgin Islands. A UK Private Limited Company owns the balance of 5%. The UK LLP intends to purchase goods from Asia for sale to a South American Country.

The goods are sourced from Asia and supplied to the buyer and paid for accordingly from outside the United Kingdom.

Because there is no UK sourced income, 95% of the profits attributable to the non resident members would flow through and be taxed at the rates applicable in their country, the remaining 5% attributable to the UK resident member would be taxed in the UK at current rates after deduction of business expenses.

Potential Issues

  • The UK LLP must be established with a view to making a profit.
  • To avoid a liability to taxation there should be no UK sourced income and no UK resident members.
  • Anti Avoidance Provisions
  • The UK LLP generally does not have access to double taxation agreements.
  • The UK LLP must have a minimum of two members.
Back to top
CONTACT A CONSULTANT

A bespoke 'offshore' solution can be complex and requires careful planning and execution. We therefore encourage our clients to contact us directly, without obligation.

While all of our consultants in our offices provide a Free Initial Consultation, the office and consultant listed below has particular expertise in this area and will gladly assist with advice on how to approach your unique challenge.

Alternatively, to select one of our multilingual offices, click here for a list of our office contact details.

OCRA (London) Limited
3rd Floor
14 Hanover Street
Mayfair
London W1S 1YH
United Kingdom
Tel: 
Fax: 
Email: 
+44 20 7317 0600
+44 20 7317 0610
enquiry@ocra.co.uk

Languages spoken in this office: Albanian, Arabic, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese

REQUEST A CALLBACK

Michael Clifford, FInstAM MIoD (Managing Director)
LONDON OFFICE
Tel: 
Mobile: 
+44 0 20 7317 0600
+44 0 77 6522 3353
Email: mclifford@ocra.co.uk
Legal Warnings | Privacy Policy | Feedback     OCRA Worldwide 1995 -
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the details contained herein are correct and up-to-date, it does not constitute legal or other
professional advice. OCRA Worldwide does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any errors or omission.