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How to open up a bank account in the UK

Having a bank account is essential to UK living. Whether you’re moving there for a job or studies, or to be with your partner, having a bank account will make it easier to settle in. After all, it’s often a requirement to have a bank account when you’re starting a new job or receiving a student loan.

It also makes setting up a new mobile phone contract or your home internet easier. So all in all, it’s a good idea to set up a UK bank account.

Finding out how to open up a bank account in the UK can often be confusing. Luckily for you, we’ve simplified the process with an easy guide. Here goes.

Documents you’ll need to set up a bank account

In order to open up a bank account in the UK, you’ll need to be able to prove that you’re legally living in the country. To do this, you’ll need proof of your identity and your UK address.

Acceptable ID documents include a passport, driving licence and, if you’re an EU national, a biometric residence permit or identity card. Valid documents that prove your address will be dependent on the bank in question—but recent bank or credit statements, mortgage statements, council tax bills, university or employer correspondence, utility bills and National Insurance Number documents will usually suffice.

Documents that you submit must be the original copies and should be from the last three months. If you’re still unsure about whether or not the documents you have are likely to be accepted, contact your bank in advance to double-check. It’ll save you time and hassle, stopping you from bringing or submitting the wrong thing.

How to choose a bank account

You’ll need to decide which UK bank you’d like to open up an account with. If you’re looking for easy accessibility, ATM networks and online banking options, it’s a wise idea to choose one of the “Big Four”. This includes HSBC, Lloyds, Natwest and Barclays—all of which allow migrants to open up a bank account. 

All of these banks are also regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and are, therefore, considered safe and secure. As part of a standard bank account set-up, you should expect to receive a debit card, cheque book and saving accounts options. And for an additional fee, you may be able to access things like an overdraft facility, travel insurance and mobile phone insurance.

To decide on the right bank account for you, do your research and decide which one best meets your needs. 

How to open up a bank account

Once you’ve done your research and decided on the best bank account for you, check ahead with the bank before going into the branch. This will save you time by ensuring that you bring everything you need with you. If you’re opening up a bank account in person, we recommend making an appointment with the bank first.

Opening up a bank account online is possible, but you will need electronic versions of your required documents. Generally, the application process to open up a bank account is as follows:

  1. Complete an application form
  2. Provide proof of ID and UK address
  3. Make an initial deposit

Once you’ve set up your bank account, you should expect to receive your bank account or debit card via post within a few days. Depending on the bank, you may be issued a temporary debit card until your permanent one arrives.

A checklist to opening up a new bank account

Ready to open up a new bank account? Before you make an appointment or apply online, follow our simple steps:

  • Do your research—investigate which bank and account type best suits you and your needs 
  • Compile your required documents—and if you’re applying online, you’ll need electronic versions
  • Make an appointment—if you’re applying in person, you should make an appointment with the bank in advance. This can sometimes take a few days
  • Wise up on fees—make sure that you are aware of any applicable fees before opening up your bank account
  • Complete your application—you’ll need to fill in an application form, provide the required documents and, sometimes, make an initial deposit

Once you’ve opened up your bank account, congratulations!

You should expect to receive your bank account details via post within a few days.


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