Great Britain welcomes entrepreneurs and investment into its economy and it is easy for anyone, even without British citizenship, to register a UK company or a representative office of a foreign company provided you comply with all requirements. A bank account in the UK is not mandatory for a company to enter a local market, but you will need it to carry out transactions with local partners. Here is where foreign nationals encounter certain difficulties that they are unable to solve on their own.
British banking system is rather conservative and even a foreign investor with a high potential might find it hard to open a bank account in a UK bank for the following reasons:
Sometimes it takes a lot of time, money and personal effort to open a bank account in the United Kingdom. If it is not worth the hassle, a UK company can open a bank account in a European bank, for example in Latvia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Estonia, Cyprus, etc. It is often much easier to start banking with one of them than with a UK bank. Though European bank accounts can be more expensive to maintain, they also offer a lot of benefits not available in UK banks:
Anyway, before applying for a bank account, assess the situation from different perspectives; do you really need a bank account in a UK bank, or it can be opened in a more friendly European bank? If you do need to bank on the British Isles, let’s have a look what’s needed to open a UK bank account.
However, without a UK residence permit or a British passport it is often impossible to sign a contract with a UK bank. Your application most probably be refused at the initial stage of applying for a UK bank account. To succeed, you need help from qualified lawyers and advisers that have relevant experience and can help you achieve your goal.
If you have made up your mind to open a UK bank account irrespective of all the hurdles, here are the phases that you must go through.
It is a straightforward procedure. You identify yourself with a foreign passport and relevant UK residence permits or a British passport. As a proof of address, provide utility bills (gas, water, power, council tax) but not older than 3 months. A bank statement from another UK bank will also serve as a proof of address.
UK banks conduct very thorough checks on their prospective clients. Apart from doing due diligence on a director, they will require evidence that your business is real, trading and can generate profit – they need to see that there will be constant activity on account. Besides, your company should be clean of any scandals and illegal activities and have all taxes paid.
The bank would be asking for the following details:
All documents must be in English or accompanies with a certified translation. There is no need to send incorporation documents, because a bank will be able to check them on a public register of companies registered in the UK.
Based on a bank and its KYC procedures, you might be asked to do something extra. It is mainly to do with meeting a bank manager (unfortunately, it is almost impossible to do it remotely) and speaking fluent English to be able to communicate with a bank officer. You can also bring an interpreter with you, but not all banks will accept that.
UK banks have strict rules when it comes to opening bank accounts for companies. It is a riddle that you might not be able to solve on your own, especially if you are not a UK resident.
Imperial & Legal offers services of opening and also managing a bank account in the UK. Imperial package is a comprehensive business solution for entrepreneurs that do not want any headache in dealings with UK banks.
Our qualified lawyers will prepare a full set of documents, help you choose the best bank for your business and negotiate with a bank on your behalf. Once opened, we can manage a bank account in your name to make sure all payments are made in time as per your instructions.
There are no laws in the United Kingdom that prohibit financial institutions from working with foreigners. However, many banks prefer not to deal with non-residents because they have to follow Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures. Your application will most probably be refused in some financial institutions such as the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) without explanation, even if you have a long-term visa.
Other respectable banks, such as as Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC, are more flexible in working with foreign clients. However, irrespective of this flexibility, they will not overlook movements of funds on your bank account. When you get a large sum of money, they may check if the source is legal.
Unfortunately, no. Cash is rarely used in the UK today, at least much less than in other countries. It is almost impossible to live in the country without using the services of local or European banks, as some payments are not expected to be made in cash at all.
In daily life, British people buy their goods and services withplastic credit or debit cards and online. Some of them may write checks in the old-fashioned way.
The standard set of documents includes:
You can open a UK bank account online or in person by making an appointmentwith a bank manager. At a branch, you may need to provide clarifications about the documents you have provided and the reason for opening an account with their bank. If you don’t speak fluent English, you should bring an interpreter or a consultant with you.
Commercial banks in the UK can be divided into two large groups – retail and private. Retail banks include the country’s largest and best-known banks: Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Metro, RBS. They work successfully with both individuals and companies. Retail banks have plenty of great offers for companies, from those with no account fees to online banking and convenient accounting tools for business. Unfortunately, it is difficult for a foreign company to sign a service agreement with UK retail commercial banks. However, if you purchase the Imperial package from Imperial & Legal, opening a UK bank account will be only a matter of time.
As part of this package, your company will get a business address for UK bank purposes. Imperial & Legal advisers will help you prepare and translate the required documents, fill in an application form to open a UK account, prepare your company director for and accompany them at a meeting with a bank manager.
In other words, our qualified specialists will advise you on how to apply and deal with bank representatives correctly and will personally manage every stage of the process of opening a UK corporate bank account.
We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.
Open a bank account
Start a business in UK
Visas to the UK