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Opening an UK Bank Account

Updated on April 27, 2015

More and more people are going to UK... People from Poland, India, Australia, France, Romania, Bulgaria - all these people are going to the United Kingdom, some to study, others are looking for career opportunities. By the end of 2007 there were over 3 million foreign workers in UK.

There are several things you have to do if you are looking for a fresh start in UK - find a job, find accommodation, apply for National Insurance number (NIN) etc.

You should also open a bank account. Why? Because it is easier and cheaper to pay the bills, not to mention that most of the employers will ask for one.

Most of the UK bank accounts fall in three main categories:

  • Basic account - this account allows you to pay money in your account, transfer money between accounts, withdraw and use an ATM machine. You can't overdraw from this account.
  • Current account - this is the most common type of accounts. In addition to the services the basic account provides, it also includes a debit card which you could use in different stores, a cheque book and cheque guarantee card, and you can negotiate an overdraft with the bank.
  • Savings account - this account gives you the highest interest rate but does not include a cheque book. You may also be required to inform the bank before withdrawal or the bank may limit the amount withdrawn or the number of withdrawals you can make.

Like everywhere else different banks offer different level of service - some have higher interest then others, some have credit options, or online banking option. Look for a bank that best fits your needs.

If you want to open an UK bank account, you have three options:

  1. You can open an account from your home country before entering UK - this way, when you arrive in UK, you will have more time for other things like registering for National Insurance Number, looking for work or accommodation, or just look around the town. However not all banks will allow you to do that, limiting your options. Some may require you to make an initial deposit before opening the account.
  2. Open an account when you arrive - this way is cheaper and you can look around for the bank that best fits your needs. However you will have all the hassle of the registration process which may to start your life in another country.
  3. Look for a travelers' company to do the registration for you - Companies like QuickstartUK and Visa First are excellent option. Besides opening a UK bank account, Quickstart can help you with your NIN application, while Visa First can help you with your UK Visa application.

Whichever option you choose from the above, you will need the following documents:

  1. Current proof of identity - before a bank can open an account you must first proof your identity. You can use your passport for proof. If your home county is in the EU, you can also use your National Identity Card or Driving License
  2. Current proof of UK address - you can use your Tenancy agreement or a letter from your UK employer which proofs your address. Some banks may require proof of your address in the country you come from. Driving license or National Identity card can serve this purpose.

Improtant: You can NOT use the same document for both purposes! Different banks have different requirements, which means that the documents accepted differ from bank to bank! Banks will accept only the original documents!

I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask in the comments.

UPDATE: I was recently contacted by a employee who said they can assist with opening a London bank account with no prrof of address.


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    • bestforexbroker profile image

      bestforexbroker 7 years ago

      awesome post

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      Dawut 7 years ago

      great info thanks...

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very good information if I should ever decide to do a stint in the UK.

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      Dimitar Sivkov 8 years ago from Varna, Bulgaria

      Thanks, Johm, I appreciate it :)

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      john 8 years ago

      nice article for those new to the uk regards john