How to Set Up a Bank Account in the UK?

Have you heard stories about opening a bank account in the UK is a nightmare? They’re probably ancient history or discrete experiences because it’s not that hard anymore. Thanks to developing technologies and vanguard fintech companies, opening a bank account in the UK is much easier.

You might be a fresh employee or someone who just moved to the UK; a bank account is fundamental for living and working in the country.

What Are the Required Documents to Open a Bank Account in the UK?

You need two simple documents to open a bank account in the UK:

  • proof of your ID
  • proof of your address.

You can use any official document such as a passport, driving license, or identity card to prove your identity if you’re a British or EU citizen.

Each bank might ask you to gather a different set of documents as your proof of address. You should check carefully for exactly which documents your bank requests. If you’re new to the UK and don’t have a residential address yet, the process becomes a little more complicated. We will get to that in a moment. The most common types of documents required by banks are;

  • tenancy agreements
  • rental contracts
  • utility bills
  • council tax bills
  • bank or credit card statements that are sent to your address (no photocopies or internet banking statements)

All of the listed documents above should be issued within the last three months.

Can You Open a Bank Account in the UK if You Don’t Have Citizenship?

You can open a bank account even if you’re not a British or EU citizen, and you still need to prove your ID and address. Your passport is usually adequate for proof of your ID. Sometimes banks accept non-UK residential addresses; sometimes, they don’t even ask if they know you’re new to the country, or they ask for the address of your temporary residence (hostel, hotel, Airbnb house, etc.) as your ℅ (care of) address.

You can have a letter or a payslip that confirms your UK address from your employer in the UK if you’re not a citizen but already settled and have a job.

opening a bank account in the UK

Is Proof of Address Necessary?

The proof address requirement depends on your citizenship and residential status -as mentioned above- and what type of bank or account you’re opening. We will give more detail on the types of banks and accounts later.

Most of the major banks in the UK have ‘international accounts’ that allow non-UK residents to open bank accounts. Though, it might not always be the best solution because they’re costly. These banks also have branches in other countries. You can go to the UK bank’s local branch in your country and open an account in the UK.

Some banks also have ‘correspondent banks’ in different countries. You can check if your local bank has a correspondent banking relationship with a bank in the UK.

What Are Types of Banks in the UK?

You don’t have to open your bank account in a major high street bank. Instead, you can choose banks owned by retail groups, smaller local banks, or independent specialist banks. Most of these banks are members of the British Bankers’ Association’s (BBA) list. The activities of BBA are organised by Finance UK, a UK representative organisation of more than 250 firms around the globe.

Online banking solutions are another alternative to traditional banks. You can open accounts using TransferWiseMonzoRevolutStarling Bank, Monese, or similar online software. You can also connect your existing bank accounts with some of these applications to benefit from online banking services.

How Long Is the Bank Account Opening Process in the UK?

It is easy and relatively fast to complete your application to open your bank account in the UK. Gather your documents, fill an application form, go to a branch of your selected bank, deposit the minimum amount of money if required, and wait for your debit card and PIN to arrive.

Remember that you can’t just walk into a branch for opening an account. You should reserve an appointment. It’s always good to plan because some of the busy branches of major banks might not have available spots in a week or two. You might want to consider not closing your account in your home country before opening your UK bank account if you’re moving from abroad and if you can use your debit card in case you need to withdraw cash in the UK.

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