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Banking Advice for Expats in the United Kingdom

When you move to the UK you are going to need to open a bank account to pay bills and receive payments. The good news is that the process of opening a UK bank account for international workers and students has become a lot easier in recent years. Here are the main things that you need to know. 

What is the Documentation Needed to Open a Bank Account in the UK?

You will need two main documents to open a new bank account in the UK, both in-branch and online. Firstly, you will need to prove your identity. This would ideally be with a passport, driving licence or identity card (if you are an EU national).

You will also need to provide proof of address via a second document. Each bank will vary on what documents they will accept, but usually these are a mortgage statement, current council tax bill, recent utility bill (gas, electric etc.) or a credit card statement less than three months old. If you are new to the UK, you may struggle to provide a proof of address. Banks these days will help you find an alternative way to prove this. It could be a letter from your place of study, job centre or your employer. If you have an address where you will be staying in advance of moving to the UK, your current bank could provide the proof of address documents you need once you inform them of your destination.

Opening a Bank Account Before Arriving in the UK

Many international banks have corresponding relationship with UK banks. Therefore, they may be able help open a UK bank account for you in advance or transfer your account over. Check with your bank to see if they offer this service. Some banks also offer the option of an international account which you can apply for online. The UK banks that offer these are Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest. 

The Biggest Banks in the UK

There are many different banks in the UK, however as an international you would be best to start by looking to the four big banks as they are strongest banks financially and they have a lot of experience with internationals. These banks are Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC (including their online and telephone-only branch, First Direct) and RBS/NatWest.

Which Bank Should You Choose?

Each bank offers many different account options and offers aimed at the different needs of customers. Whilst this is an unhelpful answer right now, it does mean that you will be able to find a bank account that offers exactly what you are looking for. 

What Costs Are Involved?

Almost all current accounts in the UK are free, so there are no fees. Some banks offer additional services and ways to earn interest, but it is these accounts that often come with a charge. 

Drawing Out Cash

Using your current account card to draw out cash is free from your bank. Most other bank ATM’s are also free to draw out cash. There are some ATMs that you will need to pay for and the charges for these are displayed on their screens. They can charge up to £2 per withdrawal, so make sure you are aware of these costs first. Most current accounts only allow you to draw out £300 per day using an ATM. If you need to draw out more you may need to go in the branch. Some banks will need 24 hours’ notice if you are taking out a large amount. The best things to do when moving to the UK is to speak with your bank first as they may be able to make the transition easier. Alternatively, UK bank staff are very helpful, so popping into a branch may help you get the answers you need. 

We at Healthcare International have a wealth of experience in helping those who are moving overseas. If you are making the leap into a new country, get in contact with us today to find out how we can help you stay safe. 

Healthcare International offers medical, travel, life, student and group health insurance, all designed with the needs of expats in mind.