Open bank account in UK

The UK is one of the main financial center with its banking sector ranked as the largest in Europe and 4th largest in the world. Over 300 banks operate in the UK. With these numbers you can be sure that you will find a bank that will be a good fit for your personal wealth management and business needs. Among all the UK banks there are the Big Four Banks (HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group) offering exceptional banking services for private individuals and companies. In order to open an account with one of the major bank, a potential client needs to have an impeccable reputation and major assets. Quit often a client shall be referred by another branch of the bank to be approved as a client of a Big Four Bank. The UK legislation does not require a resident company to open an account in a local bank, though many companies choose a UK bank for its attractive perks.

Due to Brexit it is still not clear whether the UK banks will be competitive enough in the upcoming years, but it is evident that local banks strive to attract more customers and do their best to find solutions for new economic challenges.

How can I open a business bank account in the UK?

British banks provide both UK-based and overseas companies with services for any complex financial needs. Business account you intend to open will depend on the structure and size of the company you are opening an account for. British banks welcome customers from small enterprises to mid-market companies and global corporations. It is possible to open a bank account for any type of company (LP, LLP, sole trader, foreign branch, etc) whether registered in the UK or overseas. Depending on the client’s residence, the complexity of bank opening procedure varies significantly.

What are the benefits of opening a private bank account in the UK?

British banks offer a variety of options for savings and investments that in return give attractive perks in the form of beneficial investment products. The banking services for high-net individuals are offered for clients with large assets (often starting from £100,000, or currency equivalent). British banks are well-known for prioritizing security and online technology services that enable clients to safely access and manage their account worldwide.

What is the procedure of opening a business bank account in the UK?

In order to open a bank account in the UK, a potential customer is requested to provide a usual set of documents. The UK banks follow Know your Customer laws to combat money laundering and terrorist verifying the source of money and owner’s identity to ensure the customer meet normal requirements for opening a bank account in the UK. The exact bank policies are different for each bank; however, the usual set of documents is as follows:

  1.  Proof of ID. The customer will be asked to provide a passport, a driving license and a national ID. For business account this requirement extends to directors, shareholders and beneficial owners.
  2.  Proof of address – this comes with a utility bill, recent bank statement and a council of tax statement.
  3.  Corporate documents, including articles of association, certificates, certificate of good standing. The company is required to disclose its whole corporate structure.

If you are a foreign customer, then you will be required to translate and certify your documents with the notary public. The documents have to be accompanied by questionnaire in which the customer provides details about the company, estimated annual turnover, number of employees, details and nature of its business. You should keep in mind, that certain businesses are required to have licenses and permissions for business activities. If your business is connected with online payment services, fintech industry and other innovative technologies, you will need to have a permission obtained with financial authorities. Otherwise, a bank refuses to open a bank account for you.

It is essential that you have a clean credit as well as a good banking history for British banks.

Is it possible to open a business account as a non-resident in the UK?

There are no legal limits for foreign clients to open a business account in the UK. However, most of the clients find it challenging. Most of the British banks are very cautious when it comes to working with non-residents due to fear of possible exposure to fraud. For this reason, the UK banks conduct a thorough KYC procedure and examine the banking history and reputation of company’s directors, shareholders and beneficiaries. Moreover, the British banks will require to deposit a large minimum balance. Based on our practice, it is easier to open a bank account in the UK if one of your company directors reside in the UK.

Is it possible to open a personal account as a non-resident in the UK?

Most of the UK banks avoid opening a bank account for non-residents from abroad. Non-domiciled customers are advised to apply for bank account in the three major UK banks (Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds) as they offer banking services for international clients. The opening procedure for non-domiciled customers takes more time as the banks will conduct a detailed KYC procedure. Once approved, the customer may enjoy a variety of banking options and manage account via internet or mobile banking with any device worldwide. The UK largest banks provide particular banking services for foreign high-net individuals wishing to become UK resident, to manage their pension schemes and to buy property in the UK.

Can I open UK account online?

Almost every bank will require you to present the account opening documents in person. This makes it hard to open an account entirely online. In most instances, you can initiate the process with a phone call, then online, but ultimately, you will be required to present documents to the UK bank or its branch situated in your resident country. Some banks allow to present the documents by proxy.

What are the major banks in the UK?

The enormous commercial and retail banking sector in the UK is dominated by the Big Four banks (first four banks below) and other banks listed below:

  •  HSBC Bank
  •  Barclays Bank
  •  The Royal Bank of Scotland
  •  Lloyds Banking Group
  •  Standard Chartered
  •  NatWest
  •  Santander UK
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