Opening A UK Bank Account

Opening A UK Bank Account
Opening a UK bank account after you’ve arrived in the country can be a frustrating experience, especially as opening a UK bank account from an overseas location is impossible. New regulations introduced to prevent money-laundering have resulted in red tape delaying the process to the extent that migrants are often left without access to funds.

As a result, most immigration advisory services recommend either keeping your home country bank account open and using you ATM card until your UK account is approved, or opening an account in your home country with a bank which has a branch in the UK and using it as a reference to speed the process. A UK bank account is, unfortunately, essential for salary payments and much else.

If you are arriving under the intra-company exchange scheme, as a student or with a job offer, your company or educational institute may be able to help. A number of firms and education centres have agreements with local banks which make life easier for incoming non-UK passport holders, who are considered a banking risk as they have no credit history in the UK.

Basic requirement will include proof of your identity such as a current passport or EU National ID and your visa, if any, as well as documents which establish your UK address such as a council tax or utility bill. At this point, problems may occur, as most rental agents will not issue a lease unless you have a bank account and are prepared to pay your rent by direct debit.

A reference from your employer, if any, may well be required, as well as references from the bank in your home country, which will need to be presented both in the original and in English. All details will be carefully checked and, as you do not have a credit record in the UK, you will be unable to get a credit card, although a debit card may be issued if you are in employment.

The ‘Big Four’ UK banks, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays, allow migrants to open accounts, but HSBC charges ?8 per month for the account during its first year, although it does not require a permanent address. Lloyds operates a similar scheme, charging ?7.95 a month, but includes a debit card and travel and mobile phone insurance, with similar NatWest and Barclays accounts also on offer.