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Essential Tax Guidelines for Non-Resident UK Company Directors

There are specific rules that apply to non-resident UK company directors which may apply equally to digital nomads. We discuss these and how you remain compliant with HMRC in this article.

Non-resident UK company directors

Overview for Non-Resident Directors of UK Companies

When it comes to the UK tax system, directors’ income, such as fees for attending board meetings, will always be taxable. What's more, this rule applies even if you live in another country and your tax liability is covered by a double tax treaty. 

Therefore in this case a UK company must include directors on their payroll and deduct tax through PAYE where UK duties apply. Failing to do so could result in penalties and interest for underpaid taxes.

Tax Obligations for Overseas Directors

Directors often have additional employment duties alongside their director roles. If these duties are carried out both overseas and in the UK, the income relating to UK duties is taxable in the UK.

Non-resident directors are not taxed in the UK if their UK duties are incidental to their overseas work. However, attending board meetings is never considered incidental by HMRC Therefore, income from these duties remains taxable in the UK. 

So it will be necessary for non-resident directors of UK companies must apportion their overall remuneration to separate employment duties from director duties.

Travel and Accommodation Expenses: the rules

The tax treatment of travel and accommodation expenses will depend on whether the UK is deemed a permanent or temporary workplace. HMRC usually considers travel for UK board meetings as travel to a permanent workplace. This usually means directors cannot claim deductions for these expenses.

However, if you're a non-UK domiciled director you might be able to claim a deduction for travel costs in specific circumstances,

National Insurance Contributions for Non-Resident Directors

Non-resident directors of UK companies may be exempt from UK National Insurance if:

  • Firstly, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on social security applies,
  • Next, they are from a country with a reciprocal social security agreement with the UK.
  •  Lastly, they hold a “Certificate of Coverage” from their home country.

If none of these conditions apply, the director is exempt from UK NICs for only the first 52 weeks. After that, they must pay NICs unless:

  • They attend only one board meeting a year, lasting no longer than two weeks.
  • They attend only one board meeting a year, lasting no longer than two weeks.

Reporting Requirements for Non-Resident Directors


For non-resident directors of UK companies who perform UK duties, PAYE must apply to their UK earnings. Therefore It’s important to check the relevant double tax agreement to confirm the UK's taxing rights. 

Additionally, the employer must apply to HMRC for permission to operate PAYE. This ensures PAYE applies only to those earnings relating to UK work. 

If the director becomes a UK resident and still has duties abroad, Overseas Workday Relief or split-year treatment may apply in the first year.

Self-Assessment tax returns:

Non-resident directors of UK companies will need to complete a Self Assessment Tax Return if HMRC issues a notice to file or if there is chargeable UK tax exceeding what has been deducted at source.

If HMRC does not issue a return but there is a UK tax liability not covered by PAYE, the director must notify HMRC within the usual deadline. Where no tax return issued and no additional tax liability, there is no statutory requirement to file a tax return. However, it is best practice to inform HMRC of the tax position


By following these guidelines, non-resident directors of UK companies can ensure they comply with UK tax laws and avoid any potential issues with HMRC.

For more useful information, check out our Ebooks here.

And if you'd like to know how we can help you with all of this, or with anything else, feel free to give us a call on 01202 048696 or email us at [email protected].

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