If you are planning to visit the UK or you are already there, at some point, you will need to have a bank account. In the past, it was challenging to open a bank account in the UK, especially if you were a visitor. Luckily, it is now easy to open a bank account. This article will guide you on the process of opening a bank account.
Documents Required For Opening a Bank Account In the UK
- Proof of identity (EU passport, EU identity card or EU driving licence)
- Proof of residence (tenancy agreement, mortgage statement, utility bill, council tax bill, credit card statement)
- Students can show an admission letter from the school.
Is it possible to open a bank account while I am abroad? (Non-resident UK account)
Yes. It is possible to have your bank account set up by your home bank in case it has a banking relationship with the British bank.
The majority of the banks in the UK have international bank accounts for non-residents. In case you don’t have proof of address, they are a suitable option. They have an online bank account application.
However, it might not be the best option to open a bank account while abroad. This is because some banks will require you to make an initial deposit and commit yourself to making regular deposits. Some banks also have other restrictions which can make it expensive to maintain the account, especially if you are unemployed.
The UK never had the Euro and since BREXIT it’s not even EU any more. It is part of SEPA, however. There are still enough options. Non-residents can open virtual bank accounts in the UK.
These are online multicurrency accounts that often have a free starters account and can be opened online within minutes. Not all of them are available in the UK, mind you: Bunq and N26 have closed operations post BREXIT.
Virtual Banks in the UK
You can open an IBAN account as a foreign resident, free of cost. You only need an ID, an address to send cards and documents and a phone. Only 2 withdrawals, totalling 200 Euro, are free each month (250 Euro from 03/01/2023). Above 200/250 Euro, it’ll cost 50 Eurocent per withdrawal plus 1.75%. But no monthly fee. And receiving money is free.
Revolut accepts customers who are residents of the European Economic Area (EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. They are working on expansion across the world, “soon”.
Best banks in the United Kingdom
The UK also has quite competitive main street banks that have exclusive products for different clients. There are various products for students and even professionals. Consider your circumstances when selecting the bank of your choice.
Barclays Bank has over 1500 branches. You can start the application process online from abroad, but you’ll have to visit a bank with your passport and the reference number you’ve received, to activate the account.
Barclays offers one free current account that comes with a contactless VISA debit card. They also offer an international student account free of charge. Their business account comes with financing options, planned overdraft and credit cards.
Lloyds Bank is the second bank in providing current accounts, and it has over 1300 branches.
Lloyds offers several current accounts. The free current accounts come with a contactless VISA debit card. They also offer accounts to new residents of the UK, you only need to show a Biometric Residence Permit.
The special account for students comes with an optional credit card. The bank has three types of business accounts that are free for the first 18 months and come with accounting software and legal help.
The HSBC Bank has over 1100 branches in England and Wales. The bank is in operation in over 80 countries in the world. In case your country has HSBC bank, they can assist you in setting up an account in the UK.
The bank has a basic current account that has free telephone and internet banking. It also has a visa debit card. They do a credit check before opening an account for you.
In case you want to open a business bank account, there are several business bank accounts to choose from. They are free for the first 18 months, and you can request the relationship manager to assist you in building your business.
The RBS/NatWest Bank has over 700 branches in Scotland and 1400 branches in the UK.
RBS NatWest has a free current account that is accompanied by a contactless debit card. The bank has accounts for businesses and students. Business startups receive two years of free banking and a free business credit card in the first year.
It is possible to get a current account without any monthly charges. However, some banks charge monthly fees. Other expenses that you are likely to be charged include ATM fees and account maintenance fees. It is important to check the terms and conditions of every bank before selecting one.