Current business situation
The United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comprises England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. Currently, the UK is a member of the European Union (EU) and is subject to EU trade regulatory requirements. However on the 23 June 2016, the UK held a referendum to answer the question: "should the UK remain a member of the EU, or leave the EU?" By a margin of 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent, the UK voted to leave the EU (commonly referred to as 'Brexit').
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Find out more
information about the progress of Brexit on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) website.
Doing business in the UK is very similar to doing business in Australia. However, business culture across the UK is more conservative than Australia, with executives preferring a more formal approach. Most business people will wear suits, although ‘smart-casual’ is becoming more widespread in some industry sectors, though the description of 'lounge suit' on invitations typically means business attire, not 'smart casual'.
Many UK companies are entrepreneurial and interested in new ideas, but rarely agree to a ‘cold’ meeting. Expect to introduce your company and proposition at least three to four weeks before the planned meeting date. Make an introductory telephone call and follow-up with information by email, post or fax. In general, the British are punctual and value time-keeping for business arrangements.
Gift giving is not a usual part of British business etiquette. Some organisations are encouraged not to accept any form of gift and some are prevented from doing so on legal grounds.
Setting up in Market
The Department for International Trade (DIT) has information for those considering setting up a business. You can also get specific help with setting up from:
Banking and finance
London is a major centre for international business and commerce and it is the leading international centre for:
- foreign exchange trading
- energy futures.
Links and resources
Government, business and trade
Australian British Chamber of Commerce
British Chambers of Commerce
British High Commission Canberra
Confederation of British Industry
European Australia Business Council
HM Revenue and Customs
Intellectual Property Office
Invest Northern Ireland
London & Partners
London Chamber of Commerce
National Statistics Online
Scottish Development International
UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
UK Export Finance
News and Media
Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)
Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.