Relocating to the United Kingdom? With our advice to Opening a Bank Account in the UK, you can make your new life a little easier. Make sure your money is in the proper hands when you move to the UK by opening the appropriate bank account. There are a variety of possibilities on the market whether you're working, studying, or retiring to the UK.
Banking in the UK
Private UK banks, multinational banks, and publicly owned lending organizations such as building societies and credit unions make up the UK's financial services sector, which is considered one of the world's financial hubs. There are currently 344 banks in the United Kingdom. The Bank of England is the UK's central bank, while the Financial Conduct Authority regulates the banking industry (FCA). For further information, see our guide to banking in the United Kingdom.
Do you need a bank account in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, having a bank account is not a legal requirement, and not all British citizens have one. Building societies, credit unions, and National Savings and Investment accounts are some of the alternative money management choices available in the UK (formerly Post Office Savings accounts).
Opening a bank account in the United Kingdom, on the other hand, will make your transition much smoother. When it comes to things like paying UK energy bills, you'll almost certainly need one, and it may be required by some lenders if you wish to secure a mortgage in the UK. There are various banks that offer simple accounts that may be created even if you have terrible credit, so opening an account with a UK bank is absolutely worth considering.
Before you open a bank account in the UK
If you have debit or credit cards that may be used abroad, you can manage your finances from an overseas account before opening a UK account. Be advised, however, that costs such as transaction fees and currency conversion fees may apply.
There are a few methods for getting things set up before you move to the United Kingdom. Whether your home bank has a correspondent banking relationship with a UK bank, it may be able to assist you in opening a bank account in the UK (ask if this is the case).
Alternatively, many UK banks provide international accounts for non-residents that may be opened from outside the country, so you could open one before you relocate. However, some banks impose monthly fees for these accounts, so check first and don't establish an account months before you move if you'll be charged a lot.
Types of bank account in the UK
If you wish to open a bank account in the United Kingdom, there are several varieties to pick from, depending on your needs. The following are the most common types of bank accounts in the United Kingdom:
This is the most basic and widely used type of bank account, which you can use to pay bills, shop, and get wage payments on a daily basis. Current accounts are free or low-cost (premium accounts will cost more), come with a debit card, and often include alternatives such as credit cards and overdrafts. For groups such as students and young people, most banks offer special versions of these accounts.
For customers with bad credit or who are having trouble opening a current account, many UK banks provide free basic accounts. These accounts provide basic products and services including Visa Electron debit cards and direct debit payment options, but no credit cards, loans, or overdrafts are available. If your personal circumstances change after you create a basic account, you can normally upgrade to a current account if you satisfy the credit check requirements.
Starting with simple savings accounts, most banks provide a variety of savings and investing choices. These accounts provide a higher interest rate, but depending on the account type, they may impose minimum deposits and state that money must be kept in the account for a certain amount of time. Building societies and friendly societies, such as Shepherds Friendly, also provide savings accounts.
International or non-resident account
Many of the major UK banks offer international current accounts that you can open and operate from overseas.
Digital or mobile account
All of the major UK banks now offer their services online and through mobile banking apps, allowing you to manage your bank account from anywhere in the world. In the United Kingdom, there are also online-only and mobile-only banks. For additional information, see our guide to mobile banking in the United Kingdom.
You can also open a bank account in the UK jointly with other people. This is commonly done between married couples and people living together in a long-term relationship.
Opening an international offshore bank account may be the best option for expats in the UK to handle their funds. While working or based abroad, it is feasible to open an international offshore account in the United Kingdom. Offshore accounts are available in GBP, EUR, and USD, and they typically demand bigger deposits than traditional bank accounts. They have some advantages to domestic banks, such as preferential tax treatment.
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What the different banks offer in the UK
If you are an expat looking to create a bank account in the United Kingdom, you can compare the many UK banks to discover the best deal. Here's what some of the country's most well-known banks have to offer.
Barclays, one of the UK's largest and most well-known banks, provides a comprehensive variety of financial services to both individuals and businesses. It offers three free ordinary current accounts – an everyday current account, a basic account, and a premium account – as well as student accounts, accounts for children and teenagers, an account for international students, and a foreign currency account in 12 different currencies. You can choose from a variety of online and mobile banking alternatives, and you can also customize your account for a monthly cost of between £6 and £18 by selecting from packages like the tech pack and the trip pack. There are a variety of savings accounts, ISA accounts, and other investment alternatives available to savers.
Another one of the UK’s big four multinational banks, HSBC has branches in over 80 countries and is a popular choice with expats due to its global reach. In addition to a wide array of borrowing, investing, mortgage and insurance options, there are eight free current accounts to choose from. These range from the basic account with a £300 a day cash withdrawal limit to the premier account with perks including worldwide travel insurance. There are also accounts for children, students, and graduates. There are also nine savings account including a children’s saver, a help-to-buy savings account for those saving for their first home, and a tax-free cash ISA. International services include a free foreign currency account available in 14 currencies, an overseas non-resident account available in 37 countries, and low-cost international payment options. Mobile banking is available through the HSBC app which can be downloaded from the website.
Lloyds is the UK's largest retail bank. It has eight typical current accounts to choose from. The basic account, the classic account, the student account, and the account for those under the age of 19 are all free. For £19 a month, you can get a platinum account with insurance advantages and credit interest possibilities. Non-residents and those who require access to international markets can open two international accounts. These provide free international money transfers, but you must earn a minimum of £25,000 a year to open an account. There are 12 local savings accounts and four foreign multi-currency savings accounts among the savings accounts available.
This is a smaller, younger UK bank that first opened its doors in 2010 and now has 67 locations across the country. Metro Bank's main selling point is its accessibility, with branches open seven days a week and no need to make an appointment to visit an adviser. The account range, on the other hand, is more restricted. A normal current account is free and open to UK citizens, with features such as free international cash withdrawals. There are also basic cash accounts available. Withdrawal limitations are set at £300 per day. There are also four different types of savings accounts, including rapid access, fixed term savings, and cash ISAs.
There are various large foreign banks to pick from if you don't wish to create a bank account with a British bank. These will provide services and products similar to those provided by UK banks. In the United Kingdom, international banks include:
- Bank of America
- Triodos Bank
Online and mobile banks
Customers in the United Kingdom can now open a variety of online-only and mobile-only bank accounts. These banks offer a smaller selection of accounts, goods, and services than larger high-street banks, but they are more flexible and frequently less expensive. In the United Kingdom, online and mobile banks include:
- Starling Bank
In the United Kingdom, building societies offer a financial alternative to high-street banks. Some of them function in a similar way to banks and offer similar products and services, and are more typically utilized for savings accounts and mortgages. Nationwide, the UK's largest building society, offers six current accounts in addition to a wide choice of savings alternatives. The FlexAccount, the FlexDirect online account, the student account, the young person's account, and the basic account are all free to use. Residents of EU/EEA nations can also open current accounts.
How to open a bank account in the UK
You can open a bank account in a branch or online once you arrive in the UK. Unless you already bank with an international provider that has UK coverage, you will almost always need a UK address when applying. When applying for a bank account, most banks need you to fill out an application form and submit to a credit check (unless you're starting a simple account). Each bank will have its own set of documentation that must be submitted. To open a bank account in the United Kingdom, you will need to provide proof of your identification and address.
Most banks are likely to ask for:
- Passport/valid photo ID
- A recent utility bill (less than three months old) or council tax bill
- A recent bank or credit card statement
- Proof of studying in the UK (if applying for a student account)
- Proof of employment (some banks may ask for this)
Many standard bank accounts in the UK can be opened within 1-2 days.
Note that you have to submit original documents and not copies. Also, keep in mind that despite that you can apply for opening a bank account in UK entirely online you will need to submit the documents in person at a local branch.
How to open a bank account in the UK from abroad
Some UK institutions, such as Barclays and HSBC, provide international bank accounts that can be opened before relocating to the UK. Exact procedures differ by bank, however the time it takes to open an account in the United States may be lengthier than in the United Kingdom (sometimes around 10-15 days). You might be able to open the account online, but if not, you'll need to book an appointment with the bank branch in your home country nearest to where you live. Passport/ID, proof of address, and proof of income are all required documents; some offshore accounts also need minimum monthly payments. If you need to supply further evidence, such as visa information, you may be required to do so.
How to open a digital or mobile bank account in the UK
Many UK banks now allow you to open an account using your smartphone or internet. Typically, you will be required to upload scans of documents such as your passport and proof of address. You can open an account with simply your email address, cell phone number, and valid ID at several online-only and mobile-only institutions. For additional information, see our guide to mobile banking in the United Kingdom.
How long Does it Take to Open a Bank Account UK?
Well, depending on the bank you choose to open an account with, the process of opening a UK bank account can take anything from a few days to a few weeks. You won't be able to do anything about it because it is entirely dependent on the bank's agenda and management flexibility. All you have to do is demonstrate patience within a short amount of time, and your appointment will be confirmed.
The rest of the process is quicker, and there are less documents and procedures to complete. Your account will normally be activated the same day you fill out the application form at the bank, but your card and PIN code will take a few days to arrive. Remember to keep an eye on your mail because the bank will send you your card through it.
What to do if your application to open a bank account in the UK is refused
Banks in the United Kingdom can refuse to open an account for a variety of reasons, the most common of which being failed credit checks or a lack of acceptable identification or proof of address. Banks in the United Kingdom are not required to provide reasons for rejecting to open an account.
You can file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service if you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, gender, handicap, sexuality, age, or religion. Disputes usually take 8 to 12 weeks to settle. If you are dissatisfied with the Ombudsman's decision, you can take the case to court, albeit you will usually be responsible for your own legal bills.
Banking services in the UK
Banks in the United Kingdom, like banks in many other countries, offer a variety of services in addition to accounts, credit cards, lending possibilities, and money transfers. These are some of them:
- Insurance plans in the UK, including areas such as home insurance and car insurance
- Investment options such as funds, bonds, and shares
- Mortgages in the UK
- Pension plans in the UK
International money transfers in the UK
There are alternatives to banks for international money transfers that may be less expensive and more convenient, such as:
You can also use Monito’s online comparison tool to save on fees, obtain the best exchange rates and find the cheapest option for your international money transfers.
Changing banks or closing a bank account in the UK
The Current Account Switch Service allows you to switch current accounts to other banking providers in the United Kingdom. This scheme is supported by the majority of UK banks. All payments coming out of your old account and going into your new account will be handled by the service, including direct debits, standing orders, and salary payments. Even if you have an outstanding overdraft, you can move accounts as long as both banks consent to the switch. It takes about seven business days to complete the switch service.
Most UK bank accounts can be closed at any time without penalty, as long as you didn't open an account with a minimum usage period as part of an offer. If you end an account when there is an outstanding overdraft, you must first pay it off. Loans are often paid back at the agreed-upon rate. To close a UK bank account, simply contact the bank and inform them of your decision. You may be required to complete and sign a brief closing order form.
Make sure that you:
- Obtain written proof from the bank that the account has been closed so that you are not charged any additional fees.
- Cancel any future payments, such as direct debits and standing orders, from the account.
- Notify your employer and anybody else who might be receiving money from the account that it is no longer functioning.
Final Thought on How to Open a Bank Account in UK
When it comes to banking and many other aspects of life, the United Kingdom ranks among the best in the world. As a result, many people (both UK citizens and non-residents) desire to open a bank account in the United Kingdom. For those who have already arrived in the United Kingdom, you will find that you will want a bank account at some time during your stay to facilitate your transactions ( Paying the rents, utility bills, and receiving your salary).
So, if you're intending to relocate to the United Kingdom for any reason, you'll most likely need a bank account to assist you manage your finances and pay your bills. We've detailed everything it takes to open a bank account in the United Kingdom in this article, and we hope you find it useful.