How to Set Up a Business Partnership in the UK: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a business is an exciting venture, but doing it alone can be daunting.

Many entrepreneurs find that partnering with others can bring additional skills, resources, and perspectives to the table. 

If you are considering forming a business partnership in the UK, understanding the process and requirements is essential for a successful and compliant setup. This article aims to educate our readers on what exactly a business partnership is, the types of partnerships you can choose from, and the steps involved in setting one up. 

What is a Business Partnership?

A business partnership involves two or more individuals or entities agreeing to manage a business together and share its profits. 

Each partner shares profits, losses, and responsibilities according to the terms set out in a partnership agreement. Partnerships can provide a collaborative approach to business, enabling partners to leverage each other’s strengths and expertise.

Types of Business Partnerships

Before you set up your partnership, it’s crucial to understand the different types of partnerships available in the UK:

1. General Partnership

A general partnership is the most basic type of partnership structure. This type of partnership does not require the formation of a business entity. 

In this arrangement, all partners share equal responsibility for managing the business and its debts. The liability for any business losses in this type of partnership falls entirely on the partners. 

2. Limited Partnership (LP)

A limited partnership is similar to a general partnership, except there are both general partners (who manage the business and are liable for its debts) and limited partners (who contribute capital but are not involved in management and have limited liability).

3. Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

An LLP provides limited liability to all partners, meaning their personal assets are protected. This structure combines elements of partnerships and corporations, offering flexibility and protection.

An LLP is an incorporated company, which means that it is considered its own legal entity. 

Key Steps to Setting Up a Business Partnership

1. Choose Your Partners Wisely

Selecting the right partners is crucial and can be a make or break for the business. 

Look for individuals whose skills, experience, and vision align with your business goals. Ensure that potential partners are trustworthy, and share your commitment to the partnership’s success.

2. Create a Partnership Agreement

A robust partnership agreement is essential for outlining each partner’s roles, responsibilities, and contributions. It should cover:

  • The purpose and goals of the partnership
  • Partner responsibilities and liabilities
  • Profit and loss distribution
  • Decision-making processes
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Procedures for adding or removing partners
  • Exit strategies

We would highly recommend consulting with a legal professional at this stage in the process, as they will be able to ensure your agreement is comprehensive and legally sound. 

3. Register Your Partnership

Ordinary Partnership and LP

To register an ordinary partnership or a limited partnership, you must:

  • Choose a name for your GP or LP.
  • Choose a nominated partner;  the nominated partner is the individual responsible for sending the partnership tax returns and keeping business records (in a general partnership).
  • Appoint general and limited partners (for a limited partnership).
  • Register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for Self-Assessment. This must be done by the nominated partner.


  • Notify HMRC of the partnership using the SA400 form (for ordinary partnerships).


To register an LLP, follow these steps:

  • Choose a name for your LLP.
  • Choose at least two ‘designated members’
  • Register with Companies House by filing an incorporation document.
  • Provide details about each partner and the registered address
  • Draft and submit an LLP agreement.

4. Comply with Legal Requirements

Ensure compliance with all relevant legal requirements, including:

  • Displaying the partnership name on the business premises
  • Maintaining financial records and submitting annual accounts (for LLPs)
  • Registering for VAT if your turnover exceeds the threshold

Again, we would recommend consulting with a legal professional when it comes to compliance.

5. Set Up a Business Bank Account

Open a separate business bank account to keep personal and business finances distinct. This facilitates financial management and ensures transparency in transactions.

6. Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Permits

Based on your business activities, you may need specific licenses and permits. Verify local regulations and obtain the necessary approvals to operate legally.

Advantages of Business Partnerships

The advantages of entering into a business partnership are numerous. Partnerships allow you to pool resources, skills, and knowledge, providing a stronger starting foundation for your business. Combining the different perspectives that each partner will have may also lead to better decision-making and innovative solutions.

Furthermore, running the business as a partnership means that all partners can share the workload, reducing individual stress and enabling a more balanced approach to business management overall. In terms of finances, there are also advantages: partners can contribute capital, enhancing the business’s financial strength and growth potential.

Challenges of Business Partnerships

While a partnership is a brilliant way to structure a business, it does have its challenges. In ordinary partnerships, partners are jointly liable for business debts, which can pose a risk to the personal assets of each partner. 

Additionally, differing opinions and management styles can lead to disputes. A clear partnership agreement is key to mitigating conflicts.

Also, as profits are shared among partners, each partner will see lower individual earnings compared to sole proprietorships.


Setting up a business partnership in the UK requires careful planning, legal compliance, and mutual trust among partners. By understanding the types of partnerships, following the registration process, and creating a solid partnership agreement, you can lay the groundwork for a successful collaborative business venture.

If you are ready to take the next step, consider consulting with one of our legal advisors at Tann Law. Our team is equipped to tackle a vast variety of business law inquiries and provide expert advice wherever possible. Click here to see our legal services for businesses.For more detailed guidance and assistance with setting up your business partnership, see our contact page here to get in touch with one of our team today.