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Travelling Made Easy When Starting a US Business as a UK Entrepreneur

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Travelling Made Easy When Starting a US Business as a UK Entrepreneur

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Whether you are starting a new business or simply want to expand your current company to a United States base, it’s an exciting prospect.

However, it is highly recommended that you physically check out locations in the USA before settling on a city or region based on information found online. There are so many articles you can find that list the top cities to start a business and if you compare them, no two are alike! One website listed the top 20 with six of those being in Utah whereas a survey on the CNBC website doesn’t even rank one city in Utah within the top 10. With this in mind, let’s look at exactly what steps you’ll need to take in order to locate and start a business in the US as a UK entrepreneur.

Start with a Passport and an ESTA Permit

As a visitor to the United States, you are no longer required to have a visa. As of 2010, the United States has instituted a new program called the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) that enables citizens of 38 countries to enter the country for a consecutive period of time up to 90 days. First, you must file online for what is called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or simply, ESTA.

The application fee is $14 and once you file by submitting all the information on your passport, you will be registered online. While you aren’t required to do so, it is best to print a hard copy and keep that on you at all times. It is not a visa but rather a document that entitles you to enter the country legally, staying no longer than 90 consecutive days. You can register on the ESTA system through a UK portal at

Choosing the Location for Your Startup

As it is in the UK, you should remember that not all businesses do well in all locations. For example, if you are in the fashion industry, you might want to choose a location like New York City, which is one of the world’s leading fashion hubs. Then again, the best cities for technology startups continue to emerge. You would want to check out information on sites like CITYLAB that lists the best cities for startups outside Silicon Valley. They are listed by region as well as by niche within the technology industry.

After you’ve browsed some regions you’d like to further explore, you can travel to the United States with your passport and your ESTA permit. That really is all you need because you will not yet be conducting business in the USA. Once you find the ideal location, it’s time to look at the kind of visa you will need to start a business on US soil as a foreign national. Information on those kinds of businesses can be found on a business law website. This is where you will find which kind of visa you are required to hold, such as an L-1 or E-2 Visa.

The Main Difference Is Status

The main difference between entering the United States on an ESTA permit and a business visa is status. With an ESTA permit, you are simply a visitor, whether you are conducting business or touring the States. The holder of an L-1 or E-2 visa is going to register to do business, file for all the appropriate licenses, and register with the Internal Revenue for filing status. Whether or not you pay the same taxes as a startup with United States citizenship is going to be found on that website.

One thing you may want to do from the very beginning is to hire an attorney that will be better able to advise you on all the finer points of the law. It is one thing to be a business person representing a UK company but something else altogether as a foreign national operating a United States business.

Take Time to Read the Fine Print!

While the United States has great business relations with the United Kingdom, laws are different there than at home. Yes, they are similar but not the same and some of the same concepts are simply called by different names/statutes. As with starting any business anywhere, you can find yourself in serious legal trouble if you don’t read the fine print.

Take your time every step of the way. While you may be excited at the prospect of starting a business across the pond, one wrong turn could cost you everything you are working to establish. Taking your time to find the ideal location is important but so too is finding legal counsel. Always enter the USA with the appropriate documents and permissions and all should be well.


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