UK bank account


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  • Post last modified:February 18, 2024
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With its high standard of living and easy-going way of life, the UK is one of the world’s most popular countries for living and working. Whether you’ve just arrived in the country or are planning to move there soon — or whether you’re there for university, work, or pretty much anything else — one of the things you’re going to need to get in order is a local bank account. In this guide, we explore opening a bank account in the UK for non-residents (although you’ll find that much of the advice applies to residents too).

UK bank account

Fortunately, depending on your needs, the process should be doable, and you’ll likely be able to open a bank account online in the UK without much of a hassle. (And, in case you’ve heard horror stories about opening a bank account in the UK, don’t worry too much!) Because it’s needed to open most bank accounts, proof of address is usually where newcomers and non-residents in the UK hit a brick wall. It’s also challenging if you’ve landed in the UK to live with relatives, where you won’t have any bills or rental contracts in your name.
There are three main paths to opening a bank account online in the UK, and not all of them are suitable for all types of non-residents. As a result, the best UK bank account will depend heavily on your needs and preferences. These paths are as follows:
High-street banks: This path requires proof of UK residence and is only open to non-residents who make significant investments or who will soon be relocating to the UK. It’s best for those who want extensive banking services and don’t mind the fees.
Online banks: Although the application is significantly more straightforward than high-street banks, this path (usually) still requires proof of UK residence. It is best for those who want low-cost, digital banking services and don’t mind slightly less banking coverage.
Wise Multi-Currency Account: This path is the best UK bank account without proof of address and is ideal for those wanting to open a UK bank account from abroad (as it offers UK bank details via Barclays).
If you are an expat looking to open a bank account in the UK, you can shop around the many different UK banks to find the best deal. Here is what some of the central UK banks have to offer.

    One of the biggest and most well-established banks in the UK, Barclays offers a full range of financial services for both individuals and businesses. It offers three free standard current accounts – an everyday current account, a basic account, a premium account – plus student accounts, accounts for children and young people, international students, and a foreign currency account available in 12 different currencies. There is a range of online and mobile banking options to choose from, and you can also customize your account for a fee of between £6-18 a month, choosing from packages such as the tech pack and the travel pack. There is a portfolio of savings accounts, ISA accounts, and other investment options for savers.
  • HSBC
    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. These range from the primary 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 accounts, including a children’s saver, 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 is available in 14 currencies.
  • Overseas non-resident accounts are available in 37 countries.
  • Low-cost international payment options.
    Mobile banking is available through the HSBC app, downloaded from the website.
    Lloyds is the largest retail bank in the UK. It offers eight current standard accounts. The basic account, classic account, student account, and under-19s account are all free—platinum account options with insurance benefits and credit interest offerings for £19 a month. There are also two international accounts for non-residents and those needing access to overseas markets. These offer free international money transfers, but you need to have a minimum annual income of £25,000 to open an account. There is a range of savings accounts, including 12 local savings accounts and 4 international multi-currency savings accounts.
    This is a smaller, newer UK bank that opened in 2010 and with 67 branches across the country. The selling point of Metro Bank is its ease of access, with branches open 7 days a week and no appointments needed to see an adviser. The account range, however, is more limited. There is a standard current account which is free and available to UK residents, with benefits including free cash withdrawals overseas. Basic cash accounts are also available. This has withdrawal limits set at £300 a day. There are also four savings account options: instant access, fixed-term savings, and cash ISAs.
    What Can You Do To Prepare For Opening A Bank Account In The UK As A Non-Resident?
    You can still manage your money from your overseas account before you open a UK bank account as a non-resident. However, to make your move to the UK as smooth as possible, you might want to:
  • Check with your home bank if your debit or credit cards can be used abroad
  • Make sure that you know the exact costs of transaction fees and currency exchange fees
  • Double check if your home bank can help open a bank account in the UK for you if it has a correspondent banking relationship with a UK bank
    Alternatively, some UK banks have international accounts for non-residents that can be opened up from abroad (especially in the EU), so you could open an account in advance of your move. Some banks charge monthly fees for these accounts, though, so check first and don’t open an account months before moving if it will mean hefty charges.
  • Current Account: Usually referred to as a ‘checking account’ in the US. This is your day-to-day account, the one your main salary is paid into. Current accounts offer debit cards and, depending on your circumstances, will permit you to go overdrawn up to a set limit. Some of these accounts charge a fee, for which you get benefits in return, like cashback on your spending or interest on your balance when you’re on credit or roadside car insurance.
  • Basic Banking Accounts: Are a type of current account mainly aimed at people with a low income or poor credit rating. As the name suggests, they only offer the basics. You won’t get an overdraft, for example.
  • Savings Accounts: It comes in different types, including regular savings accounts, where current account customers get a preferential rate, and ISAs, where interest earned is protected from tax.
    Which Documents Will You Need To Open A UK Bank Account As A Non-Resident?
    To open a UK bank account, you generally need the following two things:
  • Proof of Your Identity: it can be a passport, driving license, or national identity card. In general, if you are a foreigner, you most likely will use your passport. If you are an international student, you will need to show a valid study visa, a Student ID or a letter of acceptance from your university, and sometimes a bank statement from your home bank.
  • Proof of Address: This is generally a recent utility bill, rental contract, or council tax bill. Mobile phone bills are generally not accepted.
    How Do You Choose A UK Bank Account As A Non-Resident?
    If you want to open a bank account in the UK as an expat, which bank you decide to go for will depend on your circumstances and what you are looking for. There are various factors you might want to take into consideration, such as:
  • Flexibility – as an expat, if you’re looking for easy access and 24/7 banking, digital and mobile accounts are well worth considering.
  • International Scope – if you want an account that will be well-linked to overseas accounts and services, you’ll need to check international and multi-currency account options and services such as international money transfers.
  • Potential Costs – some banks may charge you for withdrawing money. You also might want to check the commission you pay for exchanging currency.
  • Range Of Products And Services – this can range from account-related services such as credit and borrowing options to other financial services, including UK mortgages, insurance in the UK, and investments.
  • Incentives – many banks will try to attract customers by offering incentives such as cash deposits or interest-free periods, so shop around to see what’s available.