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How to Set Up a UK Bank Account

Whether you want to buy a house, get a job or simply hit the big city for some retail therapy, when moving to live in Britain, one of the first and most important steps is setting up a bank account. Ensuring that you hit the ground running, setting up a UK bank account provides you with both financial stability and security whilst living in Britain. If you’re wondering how it’s best for you to go about setting up your UK bank account, then read our guide and learn the basics of the UK banking system.

What Will I Need to Open a Bank Account in the UK?

In order to open a bank account in the UK, you will need two forms of documentation. The first document required will be proof of identification; whether it’s a passport, a driver’s license or an EU identity card, some form of state recognised identification is essential for opening a UK bank account. The second document required is simply a proof of address.  Each bank differs in terms of which documents it will accept as a ‘proof of residency’, but in general relevant documents would include mortgage agreements, gas or electricity bills, recent credit or debit card statements and council tax bills. If you’re from abroad, you may find it difficult to obtain these documents. However, have no fear as banks tend to be flexible with the documentation they will accept. For example, if you are a student looking to study in Britain, then most banks will accept a letter from your university, confirming your address, as documented proof of residency.

Can I Open a UK Bank Account Before Arriving?

With many modern day banks now offering international services, you may find that you are able to set up your bank account from your home country. Designed specifically to accommodate non-UK born residents, these international accounts can be a good option for those looking to come to the UK from abroad. This can reduce a lot of hassle and stress from the process of moving when you first arrive in the UK. However, it’s worth noting that often you are required to make an initial large deposit, as well as paying a minimum into the account on a monthly basis.

Which Bank Should I Use to Open My UK Account?

There are a number of leading UK banks, and each boasts an array of unique features and services, so it may be well worth assessing and deciding exactly what you want from your UK bank account before you select a branch. Within the banking sector in Britain, the most popular ‘big four’ high street banks are Lloyds, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland/Natwest and HSBC. Below is a brief summary of what you can expect to get from each of the four leading banks when applying for your UK bank account.

Lloyds Bank

With a specifically designed ‘New to the UK’ account, Lloyds accommodates those from abroad with ease, where often only a passport or EU ID card is required to open an account. Even offering students a free overdraft of £1500, Lloyds is a prime banking choice for those looking to migrate to the UK as a student or full time worker.


An excellent option for those studying abroad, Barclays’ ‘International Student Account’ provides a service that helps improve interview skills and helps to build CVs for students.  Barclays also offers international students a free overdraft of up to £3000 across three years of study. However it’s worth bearing in mind that when it comes to opening up a standard UK account, although you can apply online, you have to go to a UK branch in person with proof of documentation before the account is actually activated.

RBS and Natwest

Two banks that fall within the same baking group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest are nearly identical in the services they provide. In terms of regular UK bank accounts from the RBS Group, it’s well worth noting that not only are their accounts free, but they offer a complimentary emergency cash service that can help you out in sticky situations.


The prime choice for international students, HSBC offers £3000 of free interest as well as a 2% in-credit interest for the first £1000, making it the optimum choice for those studying abroad in Britain. HSBC’s basic UK accounts are also great in that they provide a package that includes both free phone and internet banking for members. However on the flipside you may have to undergo a credit check before they will open up a bank account for you. If you’re looking to move to the UK, why not reach out to one of our friendly team today, and we’ll help to make your relocation as smooth and seamless as possible with our expert visa services....

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Visa and Migration is a private OISC regulated company (F201500999) and is not an official Government body. If you would like to prepare and submit your UK immigration application yourself you can do so by visiting the UKVI website.