Due to the growing amount of money laundering that goes on in the country, UK banks are quite strict with who they will allow a bank account to, especially if you have just arrived in the country – and opening a UK bank account may be difficult unless you have been here more than three months.
Opening A UK Bank Account Requirements
Different banks may have slightly different procedures for opening a UK bank account, but they basically follow the same guidelines, which are to provide the following:
- Proof of Identity (Passport)
- Proof of UK Address
- UK National Insurance Number
Even if you haven’t been in the country for 3 months you may still want to try and apply for an account. Some banks are more lenient on this than others, and from what I have heard the Bank of Scotland and Barclays may be the best to try if you are applying yourself. Make sure you ask for a debit card which is accepted worldwide as some banks issue ‘Solo’ cards which can only be accepted in the UK. If you can, apply for a visa or maestro debit card as well as a credit card for any emergencies.
Another ‘perk’ of UK bank accounts is that you may be eligible for an overdraft facility, whereby you have access to a set amount of additional money in your bank account eg. A £100 overdraft means that you can withdraw £100 more than what is in your account at any one time. This can be very handy, but just make yourself aware of the interest associated with your particular facility, as they can be pretty steep!
If you don’t want to go through the stress and bother of opening a UK bank account directly with a bank, then there are other ways to get around this by using an agent. An agent will apply for your account on your behalf, and because they have relationships with the banks, will allow you to open an account either before you arrive or as soon as you get here. Once you have paid your fee (usually around £30) they will take care of everything for you, including also helping you to apply for a National Insurance number.
To learn more about savings accounts in the UK, check out We Know Savings – a great un-biased review of the best accounts out there to help you build your London nest egg.
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