Moving to London is an exciting adventure, whether you’ve moved here for business, school, or simply want to enjoy life outside your home country for a while, perhaps touring around the UK and Europe at your leisure. Whatever your reason for becoming a new Londoner, you will need to open a bank account, and the following tips will help you move towards that goal with as little fuss and bother as possible. After all, no matter how exciting, moving can be stressful, and preparedness can reduce the amount of hiccups in your plans.
It used to be very difficult to open a bank account in the UK, but now it’s not quite as challenging, and the steps to take aren’t as daunting.
How much proof of documentation do you need? One of each of the following: proof of identity and one of address. The proof of ID is easy enough: your passport usually suffices, but you can also use your driver licence or identity card. The last is important if you’re an EU national.
Proof of address is slightly more challenging, since many new Londoners don’t always have everything, such as a mortgage statement or a rental agreement, let alone a letter from an employer or university. Though banks will have their individual lists (it can’t hurt to make enquiries at each bank), they tend to include the following:
- Tenancy agreement
- Electricity or gas bill less than three months old
- A bank or credit card statement that is less than three months old, and not printed from the Internet. Print-outs like these could be seen as anyone trying to pass themselves off as you, and in this age of identity theft, it’s best to have original copies directly from a creditor or bank’s address.
Additionally, some banks may accept a letter from Jobcentre Plus that confirms your National Insurance number, or, as mentioned before, you can present a letter from your employer.
You can also go to your bank and change your correspondence address to the one you’re using in the UK. Once this is done, request that your bank send a statement to your new bank, that way you have the proof of address covered, and you’ve already changed your mailing address at the same time.
Opening An Account From Your Original Destination
If you’ve yet to leave your home country, but want to set up an account ahead of time, you can definitely do this. Barclay’s, Lloyd’s, HSBC and NatWest offer international accounts, so you can check those websites out first.
The challenge for some is that doing this requires a large initial deposit, and you might have to pay in a small monthly amount. If you don’t already have a job lined up, this could be a pricey option, and there might be other restrictions, so doing your ‘homework’ is advisable.
Choosing a bank that is best for your needs is advisable, as it would be in your home country, but the good thing is that the UK banking industry is quite competitive, so there will be a number of banks aiming to attract and capture your business with perks.
This said, you might want to aim for using a bank that has been in business for a good while, such as Barclay’s or HSBC. They’ve had quite a bit of experience with international customers, so they’ll be more likely to understand your situation. Keep in mind also that it will be easier for an EU national to open an account than someone from somewhere outside the EU.
But whether or not you hail from the EU, it is still best to ring customer service at various banks so that your questions will be answered more fully along the way.
As you can see, opening a bank account in the UK is not as challenging as it once was, but these tips should help the process along so you can open the account, make your initial deposit and be on your way to your new adventure.