Companies Sending Staff to UK

At the bottom of this page we have detailed information about our solution for UK, including management fees, work permit fees & processing times, payroll, taxation, and social security levels.

If you’re looking to send staff to UK for an overseas project, it can be difficult to find clear information on an unfamiliar jurisdiction, much less efficient solutions. You’re facing complicated issues, in addition to a host of problems you may not have even considered yet. To compound these difficulties, you’re likely under sizable time and budget constraints.

Contractor Taxation offers a comprehensive solution to these concerns, helping companies extend into new markets and rapidly deploy expatriate resources. Read more about the kinds of goals your company could be achieving, instead of using time and resources to research UK’s intricate tax and immigration information.

Taxation in UK

One of a company’s biggest concerns will be guaranteeing total compliance with any and all tax requirements. In order to safeguard both itself and the end client, a company needs to consider:

  • Personal income tax for their employees in UK
  • Social security costs
  • Payroll tax in UK
  • VAT/Sales tax in UK
  • Withholding tax in UK (if you’re in the U.S., learn more about withholding tax here)
  • Permanent establishment

Work Permits for employees in UK

Another major concern will be your ability to secure the appropriate Work Permit for your employee.

Employees need to be sponsored for a permit. To sponsor an employee yourself, you will need to be incorporated locally and be licensed to sponsor foreign workers. If you’re not already at that stage, organising a permit is an impossibility until you complete the (often lengthy) process of local incorporation and licensing. Depending on your project’s time frame, you might need employees on site quickly, making a Work Permit even more problematic.  

The end client may or may not be willing to sponsor a temporary worker, but this raises complicated payroll and employment issues. Sponsors often need to pay the sponsored employee, adding another layer of complication to the already-complex process of taking on a project in UK.

You might be able to explore alternate visas for your employee, or even use one visa and transfer to a Work Permit in order to expedite secondment. However, missteps can cost even more time (and money). If an employee is working on the wrong visa, you could be opening the end client to serious legal and financial risks.  

What is a management company and how can it help send your staff to UK?

Essentially, a management company operates like an outsourced employer. They sponsor your staff on local Work Permits (where required), employ your staff and payroll them locally. They deduct all local taxes and social security from the assignees’ pay at source, and then pay these to the local tax authorities. In short, they reduce your administrative burden, while mitigating the business risks of employee secondment.

Taxation: As specialists in local tax law, they ensure that an employee 1) is compliant with all regulations, and 2) keeps the largest possible portion of his or her earnings. This reduces your administrative work, along with any risk of tax violation in UK.

Immigration: Management companies can sponsor Work Permits for staff, eliminating one of the largest barriers of project work in UK.

If you urgently need staff on site, a management company can also help organise a Business Visa for the employee. They can then help the employee transition to a Work Permit, assuring that your employees start work faster while maintaining compliance with UK’s immigration regulations. 

Your company’s role: Although a management company involves a fee, you typically save money and time by reducing your administration, as well as potential liability. Why not get a quote and compare the total cost of employment?

UK payroll services

Firstly, do you have a local company in UK? If so, is it appropriately registered to run a payroll, or to deduct and file taxes? Does it have the right administrative staff and is it capable of staying up-to-date with local tax requirements? Is it able to sponsor international hires for Work Permits?

Without a suitable local company already in UK, you need to consider a few different options.

Setting up payroll in UK

You can incorporate locally, get registered, and hire staff to handle payroll in UK. This option depends on your circumstances; will your project justify the cost of incorporating locally? Will you be able to incorporate within the time limits of the project? Is it even possible to set up a company yourselves with local ownership requirements? Will this company be able to sponsor international hires on local Work Permits?

If you believe this is the correct route for your company, you likely need to consult a local accounting advisory firm. Time and budget permitting, you can also consult an international tax specialist like PWC or KPMG. Some of our partners offer assistance to foreign companies incorporating locally; check with us if you are interested.

Even if you decide that establishing a local payroll in UK is the right option for you, you should still consider using a local payroll provider.

Using a local payroll provider

The time frame of your project may not justify local incorporation. In that case, a payroll provider is a more efficient solution. Even if you plan on incorporating in UK, you can reduce security risks by using a payroll provider while you get set up. This solution is simple and only requires a monthly, commitment-free operational cost.

Payroll providers versus management companies

Outsourcing payroll can mitigate the risks and liabilities of sending employees to UK, but it’s prudent to consider using a management company rather than just a payroll provider. A management company specialises in all of the same payroll tasks, plus a multitude of other services.

Getting started with a management company in UK

Co-employment eliminates your legal responsibility and dramatically lessens your administrative load. This frees your company to devote its resources to higher value business objectives, and helps maintain consistency across borders. However, different management companies offer different expertise, making it important to find the right company for your project.

Let us know your goals and we can give you easy, concise information on sending your staff to UK.  Our advice is free and doesn’t obligate you in any way.

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Work Permits in UK: Frequently Asked Questions




Can a management company sponsor Work Permits for foreigners in UK? 

Consultancies can, not Umbrella Companies.

How long does it take to get a Work Permit in UK?

Between 2 and 8 weeks.

What is the work permit process in UK?

Depends on the visa status of the candidate but simply put the company sponsoring the visa needs to lodge a Resident Labour Market Test for 28 days for the candidates skill set. After which they can lodge an application with the UKBA for a COS (Certificate of Sponsorship), this should take 5-7 days if the candidate is in country on a relevent permit, if not the application can only be made on the 5th of any given month. Once the COS is approved this is sent to the candidate and if they're making an out of country application they need to book an appointment with the UK Consulate in their home country to obtain entry clearance, this can take between 3 days to 3 weeks. If the candidate is in country on a relevent permit that allows switching of visa categories in country, the candidate books an appointment with a UKBA office to obtain entry clearance. Only once the candidate has Entry Clearance can they commence work.

What documentation is required for a UK work permit?

Passport, 2 passport photos, certified copies of education certificates, employment contract, police clearance certificate (dependent on nationality).

What is the cost of a Work Permit in UK?


Can you transfer from a Business Visa to a Work Permit in UK?


Depends on the skill set. These ranges from £25K upwards.


Business Visas in UK: Frequently Asked Questions



Can we organise business visas for UK?


How long does it take to process a business visa in UK?

5 to 10 days.

What is the cost of a Business Visa in UK?


Can nationals of certain countries enter UK without a Business Visa (for example, on an entry visa or visa waiver)?

Yes, nationals of most first world nationals and all EU nationals.


Management Companies in UK: Frequently Asked Questions



What is the monthly cost of using a management company in UK?

Between 3 to 12.5% depending on whether a Work Permit is required.

What is the estimated net retention for an assignee in UK earning USD 200,000 per year?


What is the estimated net retention for an assignee in UK earning USD 100,000 per year?



Payroll in UK: Frequently Asked Questions



How does payroll work for employers of foreign nationals in UK?

Tax and National Insurance is deducted at source by the local company and paid to the local tax authorities.

What is the monthly cost to outsource payroll in UK?

*update pending

Client comment

"Great advice and excellent service on contracting and immigration solutions in the UK. I would highly recommend Tim and the team to assist you with accurate, clear and concise contracting advice in the UK or any other country for that matter."

Prishen Pillay,Global DBA Operations Lead

Shell International Trading & Shipping