Here are some tips on how to open a bank account in the UK
The reliability of British banks is not in doubt and does not need much advertising. However, you may ask yourself how to choose the institution that suits you and meets your demands, what documents are required to open a bank account, and what should a foreigner expect if they want to become a client of a bank in the UK?
Not only whiskey or wine becomes better with age. This rule also applies to banks. A hallmark of many British financial institutions is the centuries-old tradition of keeping the savings of its customers, and they are very good at it. The banks have gained a certain level of trust among the local population. To be precise, it goes through the roof: no one could even think of fraud by a bank (at least a local one).
We’ve already written an article on how to open a bank account in the US, so, today’s topic will be the same issue, but only for the UK. PaySpace Magazine is happy to share some tips and knowledge of the subject matter with you.
Opening a bank account in the UK: general info
For a resident of the UK, opening a bank account is a necessity, because almost all payments are made in non-cash form (by bank transfer). This also applies to foreigners who come to the Kingdom to study or work.
To open a regular bank current account in the UK and receive a bank card (the simplest type of account is usually a cash account) you must provide an identity card and a document confirming the applicant’s address in the UK. These include bills for electricity, water, gas, council tax, etc. which usually come by mail and have the address and name of the applicant.
There may be some difficulties with the necessary documents if you have just arrived in the country and you simply do not have utility bills. Some banks that are most loyal to foreigners (Lloyds Bank, for example) may accept an apartment rental agreement as proof of your address.
Bills printed from your personal account online are usually not accepted. This causes some problems on the first visit to the country, as an applicant initially does not have such bills. Registration with service companies takes some time, and if an applicant rents a house where everything is included in the rental price, (or, for example, student housing) then the necessary documentation required is quite difficult to obtain. Some banks open so-called passport accounts, where you only need to provide a passport and, for instance, a letter from the university, or a document confirming the address from your country. Nevertheless, a monthly fee is usually charged when it comes to such accounts.
Features and pitfalls of opening an account by a foreigner
Formally speaking, there should be no problems when opening an account in a British bank by citizens of other countries. At the same time, some banks have so-called tacit (unspoken) rules against foreign customers. It should be understood that a bank has the right to refuse to open an account without justifying the reasons for the refusal. For example, Royal Bank of Scotland rarely works with foreigners, and the aforementioned Lloyds Bank, on the contrary, is considered one of the foreigner-friendly institutions.
There are no special problems associated with residents of countries from particular regions. Banks run a standard check for applicants who open accounts. Of course, there are countries where banks run more thorough checks, but it depends. However, it is worth noting that when transferring a large amount of money, the bank may require documents confirming the source of these funds. Thus, you should be worried about this stuff (not about your country of origin).
Accounts of non-residents
Most UK banks avoid working with non-residents, and this is the harsh truth. The major reason for such an attitude is strict rules of customer identification, or the KYC (Know Your Customer) principle. Frankly, a non-resident can open an account with only one of three British banks (unless a miracle occurs, of course): these are Barclays, HSBC, and Lloyds. Barclays’s non-resident programs are available here.
If you want to work with HSBC, being a non-resident, you must have the Premier customer status of this bank in another country. At Lloyds, the conditions for opening an account for a non-resident must be specified personally.
Business accounts for non-residents
Barclays does not require the presence of UK residents among the directors or shareholders of the company. All applications for a banking business account must be submitted to Barclays International, located on the Isle of Man. Such accounts are classified as offshore and may be located in London, the Isle of Man, or Jersey.
HSBC can open an account for a UK-registered company in which directors and shareholders are non-residents. However, the owner/owners of this company must arrive at the bank office in person in order to provide the required documentation.
Lloyds has a condition for opening a business account is the UK, at least one of the directors of the company must have residential status.
The largest banks in the UK
The following banks are considered to be the largest in the UK:
- HSBC Holdings;
- Barclays plc;
- Royal Bank of Scotland Group;
- Lloyds Banking Group;
- Standard Chartered plc.