close menu

How to open a bank account in the UK

by Leanne Shrosbree | Sep 14, 2017
  • Opening a bank account in the UK as a newcomer is notoriously difficult and irksome, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve got loads of experience opening bank accounts for non-residents, below is everything you need to know about the process.

    What documents are required?

    You’re going to need a proof of identity and a proof of address.

    An acceptable proof of identity is:

    • Current valid (signed) passport
    • Current valid national ID card
    • Current valid driver’s licence

    An acceptable proof of address is one of the following:

    • A mortgage statement
    • An electricity, gas or water bill that’s less than three months old
    • A bank statement that’s less than three months old
    • A current council tax bill
    • Account, investment or insurance document
    • House or motor insurance certificates

    What if I don’t have proof of address?

    As those who have endured the process will tell you, in most cases you do need a proof of address to open a UK bank account. If you’ve just arrived in the UK, it’s almost impossible for you to have a proof of address at the ready.

    In this case, it’s best for you to consult a relocation expert, as they will be able to help you to open an account as soon as you arrive in the UK.

    Can I open an account before I arrive in the UK?

    It is possible to open an account before you arrive in the UK, but you will usually have to make a large initial deposit as well as commit to paying in a certain amount of money every month. You’ll also be charged a monthly fee and you most likely won’t have any option as to what kind of account you can open.

    All of this can make your banking experience more expensive than it needs to be. There may also be additional restrictions such as a limited time period before you are able to close your account.

    What are the best UK banks?

    Unfortunately, you won’t have much choice if you’ve just arrived in the UK and you go it alone. Most banks are strict with their requirements and may not even offer you the option to bank with them.

    That being said, it’s usually easier to open an account with one the UK’s largest banks. The top three major banks in the UK are: Lloyds Bank, HSBC and Metro Bank.

    Before you decide which bank you should go for, you need to think about what features and offers are most important to you.

    Before deciding, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. What will they charge me per month?
    2. Will I be charged each time I pay for something using my debit card?
    3. Do I have an option to open a savings account?
    4. Will they provide me with internet banking free of charge?
    5. Can I make and receive payments online free of charge?
    6. Do I have the option to upgrade my account in future?
    7. Does the bank have many, easily accessibly ATMs and branches?
    8. Are there any added benefits to choosing this bank?

    Lloyds Bank

    Lloyds Bank is the largest retail bank in the UK, with approximately 1,300 branches throughout England. One in three people in the UK bank with Lloyds.

    They offer an everyday current account called the Classic account, an account especially for students, and a Silver account which comes with additional benefits such as travel insurance and roadside assistance.

    Metro Bank

    In 2010, Metro Bank was the first new high-street bank to launch in the UK in more than 150 years and they’re fast becoming one of the biggest banks in the UK.

    They offer a variety of transaction and savings accounts, as well as mortgages and personalised private banking.


    HSBC has more than 1,100 branches around England and Wales and they operate in more than 80 countries around the world. It is, of course, much easier to open an account with HSBC if you already bank with them in your home country.

    The HSBC current account comes with free internet and telephone banking and a visa debit card. They also offer a student account and various business accounts.  

    Do note: These accounts may not be readily available to UK newcomers, so it’s best to go through a specialised relocation expert who has an established relationship with UK banks.  

    What do UK banking fees cost?

    You should be able to get a basic cheque account that doesn’t charge you any monthly fees. If you want added benefits like interest, insurance and overdraft facilities, you’ll need a premium account and will have to pay a certain sum every month. Premium accounts often have eligibility requirements, so you might not qualify if you’re new to the UK.

    Drawing money at ATMs

    It’s usually free to draw money from your bank’s ATMs. However, certain ATMs aren’t free, and can end up charging you an exorbitant amount per transaction no matter how much cash you’re withdrawing.

    Convenience ATMs inside small shops, garages or nightclubs can charge up to £5 each time you withdraw money on them. Some will let you know about the charges before you proceed with your withdrawal, but some won’t. It’s best to always use your own bank’s ATMs to avoid a nasty surprise on your bank statement. 

    Our Kickstart team can help you get your UK bank account as soon as you arrive in the UK – no stress, no fuss. Get in touch with one of our relocation experts on +44 (0) 20 7759 7536 or

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

    • london-bus-ben
      Applying for your NI number: Don’t go it alone
      Jun 12, 2018  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • london-thames-big-ben
      10 reasons why London is still our favourite city
      May 04, 2018  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • students-school-chalk-board
      Get your child into state-funded school in the UK
      Feb 21, 2018  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • big-ben-london-at-night
      What is the cost of living in London in 2018?
      Jan 25, 2018  |  by 1st Contact
    • house-key
      To rent in the UK, you absolutely need to have the right to rent
      Jan 19, 2018  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • young-friends-drinking-beer-at-pub
      10 interesting facts about the UK working holiday visa
      Nov 27, 2017  |  by John Dunn
    • isle-of-skye-uk
      The top 10 places to visit in the UK (that are not London)
      Nov 08, 2017  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • stethoscope-uk-flag-nhs
      Moving to the UK? Here’s some great news about the NHS
      Oct 18, 2017  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • House-and-family-in-hand
      Read this before immigrating to the UK with your children
      Oct 02, 2017  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • big-ben-london
      Start your life in the UK the stress-free way
      Aug 21, 2017  |  by Leanne Shrosbree

    South Africa

    Cape Town

    Regent Square
    Doncaster Road
    Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


    25 Richefond Circle
    Umhlanga 4320 +27 (0) 31 536 8844

    United Kingdom


    One Croydon
    12-16 Addiscombe Road
    Croydon CR0 0XT +44 (0) 20 7759 7514



    9 Yarra Street
    South Yarra
    VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

    Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

    We use cookies to provide the best website experience for you. Using this website means that you agree to this. How we use cookies.