Scotland has a long history of international trade.

Outside of London, no other UK region attracts more foreign direct investment and, with operating costs up to 40% lower, that's why so many organisations are doing business in Scotland.

Scotland's skills, expertise, infrastructure and services have always been in demand globally. With more than 76,000 graduates each year qualifying from some of the world's oldest universities, the country offers a generous talent base for business growth.

The UK is the European leader for inward investment, with both the UK and Scottish governments playing an active role in attracting outside investment. Scotland works hard to cultivate a supportive business environment and organisations such as Scottish Development International, which has a network of offices in 20 countries across the world, are on hand to offer assistance to those looking to establish and grow their business in or from Scotland.


The Scottish government has traditionally offered significant support to businesses. Whether it be funding to secure jobs, or backing for innovation and R&D. Scotland continues to offer incentives in the form of grants or subsidies to investors, and Scottish Enterprise and Highland and Islands Enterprise have a budget of about £1.2 billion to invest over a three year period. This collaborative approach is a key reason why 73% of inward investors choose to stay in Scotland.

Scotland is also brilliantly connected. With five international airports and most major European cities within two hours, it truly is an ideal stepping-stone into Europe for business.


When making a business commitment to expand to Scotland, one of the first issues you should address is how to suitably structure the business from a commercial, corporate and tax perspective.

There are various ways in which investors may choose to enter the Scottish market, for example:

  • Trading through a UK incorporated entity;
  • Establishing a UK branch;
  • Acquiring an existing business in the UK;
  • Entering into a joint venture or partnership with another business;
  • Using a distributor or agent; or
  • Running a business from another jurisdiction and selling into the UK.

When deciding which business vehicle is the most appropriate UK entity, it is important to consider factors such as the sector and the product or service provided. However, in most cases, a UK registered entity will be the most favourable in terms of managing tax issues and can be set up very quickly and efficiently.

Burness Paull is passionate about helping businesses investing in Scotland to have the best start and can guide you through the legal and regulatory landscape.

The firm's expert investment lawyers have a wealth of experience in advising clients from across the globe on business ventures in Scotland, particularly how to navigate the pitfalls and maximise the benefits offered by doing business in Scotland.

This full guide covers the legal and compliance requirements for doing business in Scotland, and is ideal for businesses looking to expand or invest into the UK as well as the organisations that can offer support to do so.

Download the guide to Doing Business in Scotland.