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How to open a bank account

1) Major traditional banks in the UK vs. Online Banks

The biggest traditional banks in the UK are HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, NatWest, Santander, Metrobank and Nationwide. By traditional, we mean banks with actual physical branches across the country.

Online bank accounts are great if you simply need to have an account in Pound Sterling with a UK account number and sort code, and many also offer debit cards.

But if you want or need a bank where you can actually walk into a branch and speak to someone, then you’ll want to consider a traditional bank. You can of course go for both and have accounts in multiple banks.

2) Types of UK accounts

There are numerous types of accounts in the UK, but a standard current bank account is what most people use for basic everyday use, such as paying bills and receiving a salary.

3) Documents you need to open a traditional UK bank account

In order to open a traditional UK bank account, you generally need two types of documents:

  • Proof of your identity: passport, drivers licence or national identity card.
  • 2 proofs of your UK address. This is generally a recent utility bill, rental contract, council tax bill. Mobile phone bills are generally not accepted.

The bank will always tell you in advance (or indicate on their website) which documents they require to open an account for you.

The proofs of address are generally the trickiest to get quickly after your move.

4) How to open a UK account without proof of UK address

If you want to open a UK account without proof of address, Starling, Revolut and Monzo are a some of the online banks that will set up a UK account without proof of residency.

These online banks offer UK account numbers and sort codes, as well as debit cards you can use in retailers or to pay for items online.

Keep in mind that local withdrawals, as well as other account features, may come with limitations or costs. However, if you want more flexibility, most of them offers the option to upgrade to fee-based accounts with higher limits and more features.

Note that even though you don’t have to submit a proof of address, you’ll still need to supply a UK address – this is also where your debit card will be delivered.

Lastly, some of our clients have seen their application for an account with one of these banks refused, without a specified reason. Other clients with a similar profile were accepted. We cannot guarantee that this works all the time, but it is worth a try!

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