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Opening a bank account in UK: hints and tips

If you are moving to UK to live or study or you are looking to invest in the UK while residing outside UK, it is understandable to want to open an account with a British bank. Unfortunately, most banks will not allow you to open an account unless you have a valid UK address. This, however, does not mean opening a bank account is impossible. It does, however, can be challenging due to problems facing non-residents.

Banking problems facing non-residents

Many problems facing non-residents who want to open UK bank accounts are a result of complex money-laundering regulations that were introduce in 1993. While there are no clear-cut legal restrictions preventing banks from entering into business with customers who have foreign addresses, concerns over extra administrative costs and fraud prevention make the majority of banks unwilling to offer domestic banking services to non-residents.

Following updates to banking regulations in 2003 and 2007, the BBA has set up an online service that lists UK banks that allow non-residents to open bank accounts. In order to open a non-resident bank account, you will need to identify these financial institutions that allow overseas residents to hold this products.

Banks that allow overseas residents to hold accounts

The BBA had three banks listed on its account finder service at bba.org.uk that accept international customers, as of 2012. These banks are Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds TSB. Visit the banks’ websites to learn more about that.

If you live and want to continue living outside British territory and still hold a UK bank account, Barclays and their excellent International Banking and Offshore Accounts products should probably be your first point of call. You can then compare this with the equally good HSBC’s International Services and Lloyds TSB’s International Account products.

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Bank accounts for International students

The BBA has published guides that explain to international students how to go about opening a bank account in the UK, including providing valuable information on the application processes and available banking products like the basic bank account that meets students everyday banking needs. This information is available at the BBA official website and at moneyadviceservice.org.uk, which is a BBA member site.

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