Relocating to the United Kingdom? With our advice to Open 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
The UK's financial services sector, which is regarded as one of the world's financial hubs, is comprised of private UK banks, multinational banks, and publicly owned lending organizations such as building societies and credit unions. The United Kingdom currently has 344 banks. The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom, and the Financial Conduct Authority regulates the banking industry (FCA). See our guide to banking in the United Kingdom for more information.
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Do you need a bank account in the UK?
Having a bank account is not a legal requirement in the United Kingdom, and not all British citizens have one. Alternative money management options in the UK include building societies, credit unions, and National Savings and Investment accounts (formerly Post Office Savings accounts).
Opening a bank account in the United Kingdom, on the other hand, will greatly ease your transition. You'll almost certainly need one to pay UK energy bills, and it may be required by some lenders if you want to secure a mortgage in the UK. There are numerous banks that provide simple accounts that can be opened even if you have bad credit, so opening an account with a UK bank is definitely worth considering.
Before you open a bank account in the UK
You can manage your finances from an overseas account before opening a UK account if you have debit or credit cards that can be used abroad. However, fees such as transaction fees and currency conversion fees may apply.
There are a few options for getting things in order before moving to the United Kingdom. Your home bank may be able to assist you in opening a bank account in the UK if it has a correspondent banking relationship with a UK bank (ask if this is the case).
Alternatively, many UK banks offer international accounts for non-residents that can be opened from anywhere in the world, so you could open one before moving. Some banks, however, charge monthly fees for these accounts, so check first and don't open one months before you move if you'll be charged a lot.
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Types of bank account in the UK
If you want to open a bank account in the United Kingdom, you have several options depending on your needs. In the United Kingdom, the following are the most common types of bank accounts:
This is the most basic and widely used type of bank account, which can be used to pay bills, shop, and receive daily wage payments. Current accounts are free or low-cost (premium accounts are more expensive), include a debit card, and frequently include options such as credit cards and overdrafts. Most banks offer special versions of these accounts for groups such as students and young people.
Many UK banks offer free basic accounts to customers with bad credit or who are having difficulty opening a current account. These accounts offer basic products and services such as Visa Electron debit cards and direct debit payment options but no credit cards, loans, or overdrafts. If your personal circumstances change after you open a basic account, you can usually upgrade to a current account if you pass the credit check.
Most banks offer a variety of savings and investing options, beginning with simple savings accounts. These accounts pay a higher interest rate, but depending on the account type, they may require minimum deposits and money to be kept in the account for a certain period of time. Savings accounts are also available from building societies and friendly societies, such as Shepherds Friendly.
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 provide their services online and via mobile banking apps, allowing you to manage your bank account from any location in the world. There are also online-only and mobile-only banks in the United Kingdom. See our guide to mobile banking in the United Kingdom for more information.
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You can also open a bank account in the UK in collaboration with others. This is common between married couples and people who have been living together for a long time.
For expats in the UK, opening an international offshore bank account may be the best way to manage their funds. It is possible to open an international offshore account in the United Kingdom while working or residing abroad. Offshore accounts are available in GBP, EUR, and USD, and their deposits are typically higher than those required for traditional bank accounts. Domestic banks benefit from some advantages, such as preferential tax treatment.
How to open a bank account in the UK
When you arrive in the UK, you can open a bank account in a branch or online. You will almost always need a UK address when applying unless you already bank with an international provider that has UK coverage. Most banks require you to fill out an application form and submit to a credit check when opening a bank account (unless you're opening a simple account). Each bank will have its own set of required documentation. To open a bank account in the United Kingdom, you must show proof of your identity and address.
Most banks are likely to request:
- 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)
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.
Many standard bank accounts in the UK can be opened within 1-2 days.
How to open a bank account in the UK from abroad
Some UK banks, such as Barclays and HSBC, offer international bank accounts that can be opened prior to moving to the UK. Exact procedures vary by bank, but opening an account in the United States may take longer 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 make an appointment with the nearest bank branch in your home country. Documents such as a passport/ID, proof of address, and proof of income are all required; some offshore accounts also require minimum monthly payments. You may be required to provide additional evidence, such as visa information, if necessary.
How to open a digital or mobile bank account in the UK
Many banks in the United Kingdom now allow you to open an account using your smartphone or the internet. You will most likely be asked to upload scans of documents such as your passport and proof of address. At several online-only and mobile-only institutions, you can open an account with just your email address, cell phone number, and valid ID. See our guide to mobile banking in the United Kingdom for more information.
How long Does it Take to Open a Bank Account UK?
The process of opening a UK bank account can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the bank you choose. You will be powerless to intervene because it is entirely dependent on the bank's agenda and management flexibility. All you need to do is show patience in a short period of time, and your appointment will be confirmed.
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The remainder of the process is faster, with fewer documents and procedures to complete. Your account is typically activated the same day you fill out the application form at the bank, but your card and PIN code may take a few days to arrive. Keep an eye on your mail because the bank will send you your card via it.
What to do if your application to open a bank account in the UK is refused
Banks in the UK can refuse to open an account for a number of reasons, the most common of which are failed credit checks or a lack of acceptable identification or proof of address. Banks in the United Kingdom are not required to give reasons for rejecting an account opening request.
If you believe you have been discriminated against because of your race, gender, handicap, sexuality, age, or religion, you can file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service. Disputes are typically resolved in 8 to 12 weeks. If you disagree with the Ombudsman's decision, you can take the matter to court, though you will usually be responsible for your own legal fees.
Banking services in the UK
In addition to accounts, credit cards, lending options, and money transfers, banks in the United Kingdom, like banks in many other countries, provide a variety of services. Here are a few examples:
- 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 money on fees, get the best exchange rates, and find the most affordable option for international money transfers.
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Changing banks or closing a bank account in the UK
The Current Account Switch Service allows you to transfer your current account to another bank in the United Kingdom. The majority of UK banks support this scheme. The service will handle all payments coming out of your old account and going into your new account, including direct debits, standing orders, and salary payments. Even if you have an outstanding overdraft, you can switch accounts as long as both banks agree. The switch service takes about seven business days to complete.
Most UK bank accounts can be closed at any time without penalty, as long as you did not open the account as part of a promotional offer. If you close an account while there is an overdraft, you must first pay it off. Loans are frequently repaid at the agreed-upon interest rate. Simply contact the bank and inform them of your decision to close a UK bank account. You may be asked to fill out and sign a brief closing order form.
Make sure that you:
- Obtain written confirmation from the bank that the account has been closed in order to avoid being charged any additional fees.
- Cancel any future payments from the account, such as direct debits and standing orders.
- Notify your employer and anyone else who may have received funds from the account that it is no longer active.
Final Thought on How to Open a Bank Account in UK
The United Kingdom is among the best in the world when it comes to banking and many other aspects of life. As a result, many people (both British citizens and non-residents) want to open a bank account in the UK. Those who have already arrived in the United Kingdom will need a bank account at some point during their stay to facilitate transactions ( Paying the rents, utility bills, and receiving your salary).
So, if you're planning to relocate to the United Kingdom for any reason, you'll almost certainly require a bank account to help you manage your finances and pay your bills. In this article, we've covered everything you need to know about opening a bank account in the United Kingdom, and we hope you find it useful.
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