bank account uk

How to open a bank account in the UK

Bank Account UK: A Guide

Perhaps you are a UK citizen or a newcomer. Regardless, chances are you need a bank account and you need one fast. It used to be difficult and in some instances pretty much impossible. It is slightly easier now. Here is our step-by-step guide.

Documents needed to open a UK bank account

UK bank account documentation basics

The basics here are needed: you will be required to prove your identity and your residence and this applies to accounts being opened online or at a branch. Proving that you are who you say you are is simple: have your passport, driver’s license or ID card ready. You will also be required to prove where you are currently residing which means you will need to have (usually) one of the following:

  • A tenancy agreement or mortgage papers
  • A recent utility bill
  • A recent bank or credit card bill (cannot be a print out off the web)
  • A current tax bill

If you are a new UK resident, it is unlikely that you have these documents handy. In recent years, however, banks have relaxed their requirements on what they will accept as proof of address.

As a student, for instance, some banks will gladly accept a letter from your university’s admissions office confirming your address.

Another option for those that are new in the UK is a letter from the Jobcentre Plus confirming your National Insurance number. A letter from your employer would also work, as long as it is less than three months old. Alternatively - and we recommend this - go to your bank and ask for a change of address to your new UK address. This is also possible online. Once this is done, ask your bank to send a bank statement to your new address by post and it is done - your new UK proof of address is there to be used.

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Opening a bank account before I arrive in the UK

includes information for non resident banking

Yes, it is possible. Your home country’s bank may have the ability to setup an account for you if it has a correspondent bank relationship” with a UK based bank. Many of the major UK based banks also have what is called an international account offer which is designed specifically for non-residents which would be a great option if getting an account through traditional means - which include providing proof of address records - is impossible. It is even possible to apply online. Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest have international accounts created specifically for non-residents.

This may not be the right choice, however, because there are caveats such as big deposit being required and monthly deposit commitments. Some banks will charge additional special monthly fees on top of this which would make all of this expensive specially when looking for permanent employment. There could also be other commitments cleverly hidden in the fine print such as stipulations for when you are able to close the account without financial penalties.

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What would be the best UK bank for me?

Includes info for non resident banking in the UK

It is, of course, difficult to give a definitive answer to this question because banking in the UK is competitive with each having significantly different business models designed to attract specific customers.

This is of great advantage for us, the customers. You can be a student, a professional or a business, it does not matter: there will be quality banking offers tailored to your needs and budget. This being said, it is important to consider your personal needs when making a commitment to a banking institution.

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What is important to consider when choosing a bank

Also for non residents bank account in the UK seekers

Being a new UK resident means that you have limited credit history and little documentation to use as proof of residence and the like. With some banks being strict in their requirements, opening an account can be a challenge to put it mildly.

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The kinds of bank accounts available in the UK

Also UK bank for non residents: account types available

The UK is in the SEPA zone, which means that all banks here are "SEPA UK banks" and it is possible to perform transactions between 35 EU countries free of charge. Additionally, it is possible for businesses to open a UK bank account or a UK virtual bank account too.

A Few Answers

  • Do UK accounts have IBANS? All UK accounts have an IBAN, including virtual bank accounts and accounts from traditional banks such as Barclays.
  • Is the UK in SEPA? Yes, the UK is part of SEPA, so you can transfer money all over the EU for free.
  • Can I perform ecommerce payments? You can perform ecommerce payments such as Amazon payments in the UK.
  • What is a virtual bank account uk? This is just like a traditional bank account, expect all transactions are online offering additional security. There are many virtual banks in the UK offering virtual bank accounts.
  • Is it possible to open an online uk bank account as a non resident? Yes it is possible and we describe the process in detail in this article.
  • UK banks offering euro accounts? All banks offer Euro accounts in what is called a multi currency account.
  • What is a UK virtual bank? A virtual bank is online banking service that works with traditional banks to offer virtual bank accounts in the UK which include SEPA transfers, Euro accounts and uk business bank account for non residents.

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Types of bank accounts available in the UK

Also: services available to you as a non resident

The UK is in the SEPA zone, which means that all banks here are "SEPA UK banks" and it is possible to perform transactions between 35 EU countries free of charge. Additionally, it is possible for businesses to open a UK bank account or a UK virtual bank account too.

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The biggest banks in the UK

Included: best banks for non resident banking/h4>

The retail banking sector in the UK is dominated by about 10 banks and each of them have good and bad characteristics. The biggest players are Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS. Let's investigate what each of them can do for you.


Barclays is one of the oldest banks in the United Kingdom with more than 1500 branches. It is listed here first because we believe it to be the easiest place for people new to the UK to open an account at. You may even start the process online if you like.

Their account is free - of course - and comes with a free contactless debit card. You won't be able to use your account immediately because you will be required to visit a branch in the UK once you are here and provide all the required documentation: reference number, passport and proof of address so your account in activated. Barclays has a variety of special accounts offers such as for students and businesses.

The international student account is free as well and offers cashback from many shops around the country. It also features a special services department to help students build their CV and improve interviewing skills. It is also possible to upgrade the basic account with student additions. Included in this offer is free overdraft of up to 3000 pounds for 3 years and a contactless debit card. Barclays' UK virtual bank accountbusiness account is also 100% free for the first year and features a choice of business financing options, planned overdraft and credit cards. There is a special customer service live chat line where you can get answers to your questions in real time.


Lloyds is the UK's number 1 provider of current accounts and has over 1300 branches all over the nation. Opening an account with them is easy even if you are a new arrival.

Lloyds even has a product specially made for new arrivals which you can take advantage of with just a passport or ID card (if you are an EU citizen). This is a free account and it comes with a free contactless debit card.

Lloyds also has a free account for international students. It comes with free overdraft of 1500 pounds for 3 years and optionally a credit card with a 500 pound limit. They also have a 3 types of business accounts depending on the size of your operations. They are all free for the first 1.5 years and they come with free tools such as accounting software and legal council at a discounted rate.


HSBC features over 1100 branches in the UK, with its largest presence being in England and in Wales. HSBC biggest advantage over its competitors is its international presence. If one banks with HSBC in any of the 80 countries it is present at, they are able to help you setup a UK account before you arrive.

Their basic current account includes free online banking and a free debit card. Contactless cards are dependent on a set of criteria. It may also be required that you undergo a credit check before opening an account with HSBC.

HSBC also offers a student account which features 3000 pounds overdraft for 3 years and a 2% interest on the first 1000 pounds. This is a good offer.

If you need a business account, there is a selection of business bank accounts available to you. They are all free for the first 18 months and come with extras such as an account specific manager to help you with business banking insight.


The Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest are both owned and operated by the RBS Group and as such both have similar product offers. Most of Royal Bank of Scotland's 700 branches are in Scotland while NatWest's 1400 branches are located all over the UK. Natwest has an offer called the Select current account which is free and it comes with a contactless debit card. They offer a special emergency cash service that enables you to withdrawal cash from your account using a security code if your card is lost or stolen.

NatWest also offers student and business accounts. As a student, you get overdraft up to 2000 pounds for 3 years and 33% discount on bus travel with National Express as standard.

NatWest offers 4 different business accounts each specific to the size of your business. Even if you are a startup you get free banking for two years, free business credit card for 12 months and free 500 pounds overdraft also for the first year. If you want an account with them you can contact them directly via their live chat line and get answers in real time.

Other banks with a significant presence in the UK

Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS are the largest but there are other good banks worth looking into. TSB has a stellar reputation and it is quickly gaining ground against its competition. It is easy to open an account - even as a new resident - and their Classic Plus account is an all-round good offer. You get 5% interest monthly on the first 2000 pounds in your account and 5% cashback each month on your first 100 pound contactless payments. Student accounts have a free overdraft offer of up to 1500 pounds for 3 years.

Santander is a popular bank these days thanks to its 1|2|3| Account. This account come with a 3% cashback on household bills and 3% interest on balances between 3 and 20 thousand pounds. It is required, however, that you undergo a credit check in order to take advantage of this offer so if you are new here you are unlikely to qualify. After a year or so here chances are that you would qualify so it maybe a good idea to keep this in mind.

It is always a smart idea to look at different banking offers by different vendors to see who currently has the best deal. Our advice is to shop around before you buy.

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What are the costs involved?

Non residents bank account info included

A basic current account is free at most high street banks and this should be enough for your everyday needs. Banks always have premium offers with special benefits such as cashback on household bills, insurance and interest on your balance. These special offers usually need minimum eligibility requirements, fees and it would be difficult to quality for these for most newcomers. These also require that you pay attention to stay in credit because without planned overdraft, banks may incur charges if you withdrawal money you don't have. Please read through your bank's terms & conditions and avoid issues in the future.

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ATM fees

includes info for non resident banking

It is usually free to use your bank's ATM machines with many banks also offering free withdrawals from other banks as well. However, some aren't free and can charge up to 3 pounds for a transaction. Always check the machine first even if it is stated that it is free to use.

Outside the UK is a different matter with banks charging 3% for all non-sterling transactions and also a transaction fee to go along with the currency conversion. A tip: if you are asked to choose which currency to the charged with when abroad, always choose to be charged in the local currency. This will get you the best exchange rate and perhaps avoid fees with your local bank.

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Multi currency bank accounts

European bank account for non residents info included

These are account designed for those that travel or do a lot of business abroad enabling you to manage your money in different currencies easily. Many UK based banks offer this as an option for expats, including newcomers as long as these meet the minimum eligibility requirements.

HSBC has a special offer for this boasting a multi-currency current account available in GBP, EUR and USD with visa debit cards available in GBP or USD. With this account you are able to choose between various investment options also in all major currencies, including the ability to take out a mortgage on a UK based property. HSBC multi currency account also features credit cards in multiple currencies from all major credit card labels.

If you have financial commitments in multiple countries and require to do a lot of international payments, a multi-currency account with Barclays may be a good option for you. You get reduce exchange rate risk and can make and receive foreign payments from a wide range of currencies.

Citi has multiple branches in the United Kingdom and it is known for being the choice for high net worth individuals. They have a multi currency banking offer in GBP, USD and Euros made for international travellers. Depending on eligibility, you could qualify for free international transfer of funds. It comes with a contactless multi currency debit card which you can change its linkage to one of the three available major currencies, concierge service and worldwide holiday travel insurance. One additional perk is the existence of +500 Citi's business meeting facilities available to you as part of the package.

Lloyds focused on making sure your multi currency bank account is working to make money for you. Its Everyday banking multi currency offer is available in Sterling, Euro or US Dollar and requires a 50 thousand pound income or 25 thousand minimum to save or invest in order to qualify. After you check if you are eligible, you can avoid charges on international payments, take advantage of expedited large transfers and if you choose you can schedule regular outgoing payments.

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Virtual Bank accounts UK

Virtual bank accounts for EU citizens

A virtual bank account is an option for those familiar with operating their life with mobile devices and enjoy the fact that with a few clicks (and uploads of document with your camera phone) you will have a bank account instantly granted to you, ready to be money deposited to it.

These are possible thanks to virtual banks which are becoming increasingly popular in the UK with hundreds of thousands of people taking advantage of their easy signup process, flexibility and ability to use other bank's physical structure to complete transactions such as having a contactless debit card to withdraw money from any ATM in the UK and abroad.

Some uk virtual bank accounts are not current accounts but still have an important function because they are connected to a non-resident's home country bank account enabling he or she to perform international transfers. In other words, if you require to regularly receive payments in the UK, it is possible to get a virtual bank account without a debit card yet your money is automatically transferred to your home country for a small fee that outcompetes traditional banks in this respect.

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UK banks offering Euro accounts

Many banks offer Euro bank accounts

There are various banks that offer a Euro bank account for UK residents and non residents. There are also banks in other countries that - if you meet their criteria - they will open a multi currency account for you which in effect is the same thing. Germany's DKB is an option with its DKB-Cash account which has online banking, fair interest in the balance and contactless debit cards. The best part of DKB's offer is that it is 100% free.

Options in the UK include Barclays with its offer that is called the Euro Account.You can make and receive Euro payments, reduce your exchange rate risk. The catch is that you also need to have a separate sterling account to start. It comes with a chequebook and regular statements so you can track your financial life and transfers between your GBP and EUR accounts are free. To see Barclays' latest exchange rates, click here.

HSBC also is one of the UK banks offering Euro accounts. HSBC Currency Account allows you to easily manage multiple currency holdings with no monthly account fee. They are accounts in 14 major currencies (Australian Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Swiss Franc, Chinese Renminbi, Euro, Hong Kong Dollars, Japanese Yen, Norwegian Krone, New Zealand Dollars, Emirate Dirham, Swedish Krona, Singapore Dollars, US Dollars ,South African Rand) and you can make payments between them easily. Rates are live which gets you solid exchange rates, you can manage all your accounts from one online dashboard and you can apply online as long as you are already an active HSBC current account (excluding the basic and the student accounts) and you are a UK resident.

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More Q&A about bank account UK

Is it possible to get a UK virtual bank account?

Yes, it is possible to get a virtual bank account because UK is part of SEPA. This also means that you can perform UK SEPA payments.

Is UK part of SEPA?

The UK in SEPA is a question we get a lot and yes, despite common misunderstanding, the UK is a SEPA country and you can perform UK SEPA payments.

A list of SEPA UK banks

All UK banks are SEPA banks which means you can get an IBAN UK for all its banks and there are UK banks offering euro accounts too

Can I get an IBAN barclays UK?

Yes, Barclays being part of SEPA UK has IBANs for its accounts.

Are there UK business bank account for non residents?

Yes it is possible as a non resident to get a business bank account but it will be a bit tricky with the documentation necessary. You are likely to need proof that you are doing legitimate business transactions.

What are the amazon payments fees uk?

Amazon payments fees uk has has a schedule for its fees because how much you pay depends on volume. See link.

Is is possible to open a online uk bank account for non resident?

Yes it is possible to open uk bank account for non resident and as we explained in this article there are procedures to follow that are specific to each bank.

Is it possible to do free business banking UK?

Usually free business banking UK is the initial offer by banks to onboard you as a customer. Most bans give you between 1-3 years of free business banking UK. If you are doing large volumes, it is possible that your bank will extend that offer.

Can I do uk SEPA payments?

Yes you can do UK SEPA payments whenever you like with a virtual bank UK, any SEPA UK banks, if you have a uk virtual bank account free and even if you have a free business banking UK.

Is there a UK virtual bank?

Yes, UK virtual banks are growing in popularity everyday with millions of customers using its services including virtual bank account UK and uk business bank account for non residents.

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How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

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