Guide to opening a bank account in the UK for non-residents
Opening a UK bank account is beneficial whether you're relocating to the UK or receiving payments from international clients as a freelancer.
A team of experts will get you the answers you need to get started with your business.
Whether you are planning to relocate to the UK in the nearest future or you are just a freelancer who would like to receive payments from your international clients in a much easier way, opening a UK bank account is good for you. We will still talk more about this in the later part of this article.
But first, the first part of this article will enlighten on you the types of bank accounts you can open in the UK to help make your choice-making decision easier. You will also learn out to go about opening the account easily without having to be in the UK or owning a UK utility bill. Welcome.
Type of bank account in the UK
There are 3 main types of bank accounts that you have an option of opening in the UK, much like any other country, and you have probably heard of them before. The options are the current account, savings account, and basic account.
- Current account. The current account is the same as the checking account of some other countries. The main benefit of the current account is that it allows you the benefit of taking overdrafts against your salary or other forms of income. You will also be issued a debit card for online purchases as well as other side attractions like insurance, etc. The downside is that there could be some monthly charges to pay on the account per month.
- Savings account. Savings account earned their name from the fact that it is used for saving and as such it is expected that withdrawals from them should be minimal. Interests are added to the account every month when you meet certain criteria set out by the bank.
- Basic account. The basic account is used for people with low income or credit. This account is limited in its use and capacity.
Types of banks in the UK
Taking a quick look at the types of banks in the UK is to give you an idea of which group will allow you to open an account as a non-resident. This is because some of these banks strictly require UK-based utility bills as proof of address for opening an account with them. Therefore, the types of banks in the UK presently are –
- High-street banks – these are banks that are very strict with their requirements and are therefore not suitable for non-residents who do not have extensive banking to do in the UK.
- Online banks – these require the same criteria as high-street banks with the exception that they are more lenient and have all their transactions done online.
- Multi-account banks – these banks are agents that serve as an intermediary between traditional banks of several countries and their clients. In other words, when you transact with them, they offer you the option of opening accounts in different banks in several countries. These banks are the most suitable for non-residents of the UK to use.
How to choose a bank account for non-UK residents
Now that you know the types of banks present in the UK and the accounts that they are most likely to provide you, the following is a quick rundown of steps to take in deciding which bank account to use.
- Identify your banking needs. Whether you are going to open a basic, current, or savings depends largely on your banking needs; or even the services you need to be rendered by your bank. If all you will be needing the account for is saving money for rainy days, then opening a current account may not be suitable for you. It will also be beneficial to open a corporate account if the account is to be used strictly for business purposes.
- Identify the bank that provides accounts with the right package. The package attached to the current or savings accounts differs by the bank. So, you could compare the offers the banks are offering to identify which one suits your needs the most. Some banks will allow you to take overdrafts while others still support unlimited transfers per month.
- Compare account charges. Some banks charge account fees per month and the amount charged also differs per bank. Although high account charges rate may be charged when the bank is providing substantial supplementary benefits in addition to the bank account, you should be sure that you are really in need of those in the first place.
- Decide the type of access you want. If you are not comfortable with dealing with the customer care representative of banks online, then opening an account while you are not resident in the UK is not for you. This is because you are not physically present in the UK and therefore do not have the option of making any one-on-one complaints to the local branch.
- Ensure that the bank is licenced and insured by the government. Lastly, make sure that the bank you choose to open an account with is licensed and insured by the PRA (Prudence Regulation Authority) and the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). This ensures that your money of up to £85,000 is secured in case of insolvency of the bank.
How to open an account in the UK for non-residents
The application for a bank account is quite straightforward for non-residents, inasmuch as you have the legal right to stay in the UK. The first step for non-residents of the UK to open a bank account is to identify a suitable multi-currency bank. As mentioned earlier, these are the banks that give lower hassle to non-residents before they can issue you a UK account number. That said, let’s take a brief look at what you will need to speed up your application for opening an account as a non-resident in the UK.
- Provide your biodata – this will include your legal name (as it appears on your proof of identity to avoid misidentification), contact address, email, phone number, occupation, yearly income range, tax identification number (not all the time), etc. The personal data required largely depends on the bank.
- Provide proof of identity – usually you a document like your photo ID driver’s license, international passport, or a government-issued national ID.
- KYC or proof of address – instead of proof of address, many multi-currency banks will accept just filling out a Know Your Customer form which serves to verify your address instead of asking you to upload a utility bill or equivalent.
- A photo ID – you may be required to take a real-time passport with your phone which will be compared to the picture on the government-issued ID you have provided.
Once you have provided all the details listed above, the only thing that needs to be done next is for the bank to verify that all details provided are correct. This would take less than an hour in most cases and it can take up to 3 working days sometimes.
After you have been verified, you will be issued a bank account of your choice in whichever currency you want. Some multi-currency banks allow you to open accounts in up to 5 different countries or even more.
How long does it take to open a bank account for non-residents?
When you use a multi-currency bank, opening a bank account in the UK takes less than an hour. Once the bank has verified that you provided correct information and that they are still valid, they issue you an account number. Sometimes it takes about 15 minutes to get an account with one of these banks.
However, if you are opening an account with any of the old banks, it could take longer and the processes could be a little bit more tedious. Most of the time, these old banks do not accept any other document apart from utility bills for proof of residence. What that implies that if you are not currently residing in the UK, you cannot open an account with them.
Advantages of using a UK bank account for non-residents
- You can easily make transactions in any currency of your choice without having to jump through hoops from your local bank.
- It becomes easy to relocate to the UK whenever you want since you have a valid account in the country.
- With a UK bank account, you do not need to worry about the extra cost of changing your local currency into pounds.
- You can also have access to several benefits that come with those accounts like overdrafts or loans, interest-free periods, add-ons, etc.
- Having a bank account will also allow you to have access to bank statement for months that could be used for your credit check when applying for loans.
Examples of multicurrency banks suitable for opening a UK bank account.
These bank accounts can be opened through intermediaries like Payoneer, Wise (formerly Transfer Wise), Geegpay, etc. with simple signup procedures.
Without the right information, you are likely to do things in ignorance. You do not have to worry about making or receiving payments in foreign currencies anymore when you can simply open a bank account in any country of your choice. You should avail yourself of this information today and open a UK account.
How to open a bank account in the UK as an expat?
1. Identify a good bank and the type of account of your choice:
The choice of the bank depends on your banking needs. Also, you should determine if you would like to open a current or savings account. If it is a salary account, a current account would be your best option.
A team of experts will get you the answers you need to get started with your business.