Set up as self-employed (a ‘sole trader’): step by step

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What you need to do when you start working for yourself, either as your only job or at the same time as working for an employer.

Step1: Check what being self-employed means

There are other ways to work for yourself. Check if you should set up as one of the following instead:

  • a limited company
  • a partner in a business partnership
  • Get help deciding how to set up your business
  • Get help starting your own business if you’re on benefits

Step2: Check the rules for sole trader business names

You can register a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.

Step3: Find out what business records you need to keep

Step4: To pay tax, you’ll need to register for Self Assessment.

Apply for a National Insurance number if you do not have one
Register for Self Assessment

You might need to register in a different way if:

  • you work in construction
  • you’re a self-employed fisherman

You may also need to register for VAT.

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