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Opening a bank account in the UK and Europe

We will help you to use all the opportunities offered by personal and business accounts in the UK and European banks

Benefits of having a bank account in the UK or Europe

Personal or business accounts in foreign banks allow to keep and increase savings, perform transactions with foreign clients and suppliers without any problems, work with foreign financial institutions and sometimes even deal with exchange control rules set in your country.

Imperial & Legal experienced advisors will help you to open a bank account in any UK or European bank as quickly as possible.

We at Imperial & Legal have been opening bank accounts in the UK and Europe for our clients for many years.

Our experts are always ready to provide professional advice in any matter. We know exactly which requirements English and European banks have for the account opening.

Imperial & Legal advisors will prepare all the necessary documents and help you to open a bank account in any UK or European bank as quickly as possible based on your individual needs.

UK banking system

First banks appeared in the UK more than 300 years ago. Since the end of the 17th century, the UK banks have won the reputation of highly reliable financial institutions that offer complete confidentiality and high-quality service. Besides, they are prestigious, provide a wide range of services, use modern financial instruments and have branches across the whole world. This explains why wealthy foreigners want to keep their money in the UK bank accounts.

Not only businesspeople, however, may need a bank account in the UK. It is important to note that almost all payments in the UK, for example, utility charges, are conducted through a bank. So, a foreign student or a specialist who comes to the UK on a long-term visa will equally need a bank account in the UK.

British banks are of two types:

  • Retail banks – large financial institutions that offer a wide range of banking services and that are equally convenient for individuals and corporate clients. The oldest banks in the UK, such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays or Lloyds, are retail banks. It will be difficult for foreigners to get an account in these banks.
  • Private banks – banks that primarily work with individuals. They are less fastidious and are convenient for simple day-to-day operations. It is possible to open a corporate account in such banks as well, but in most cases, you will have to pay for this service additionally. The oldest British private bank is Coutts. It was founded in 1692.

Fees that British banks charge are not high. Some banks start providing services free of charge after some time. Private clients who have a bank account also get a chequebook and a plastic card free of charge. Your plastic card can be sent to your home address, and you can keep track of your expenses with SMS-notifications, online-banking or a special app on your smartphone.

Wealthy foreigners choose British banks to keep their money for many reasons, but they rarely do this for the sake of increasing their savings. Interests on deposits in the UK are relatively low and do not exceed 2%. You will also have to pay taxes on this small income.

How to open a bank account in the UK successfully

Unfortunately, it is not so easy for immigrants to open a personal or a corporate bank account in the UK, especially if they have recently arrived at the UK. There is no law that prohibits working with foreign clients, but if you try to open a bank account in the UK without an immigration advisor, you will be refused in 98% of cases during documentation processing. Even those who successfully went through a due diligence check are sometimes asked to provide evidence of the legal source of large transactions. These tough requirements are in line with the government policy aimed at fighting against financial fraud and money laundering.

Imperial & Legal experts have extensive practical expertise in working with the UK and European banks. We can help you to prepare and submit the necessary documents, go through all checks and successfully open a bank account in a foreign bank.

We work with many British retail banks, such as Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, Metro and even Royal Bank of Scotland that has such tough requirements for foreigners that the majority of them get refusal at the application review stage. We work with private banks as well, for example, Coutts and EFG.

Process of opening a bank account in the UK

To open a bank account in the UK, you need to fulfil the following requirements:

  1. Attend an appointment with a bank manager.
  2. Have good knowledge of English to be able to communicate with bank employees.
  3. Provide evidence of the legal source of funds.
  4. Provide a proof of your address in the UK.

What documents are required for opening a personal bank account?

Required documents for opening a bank account:

  • Valid ID – a residence card or a passport with a British visa.
  • Proof of address in the UK.
  • Proof of your immigration status (required in most banks).

For the foreigners who have recently come to the UK and have not rented a flat yet, proving their address in the UK presents a challenge. One of the most popular ways to prove your address is to provide utility bills. Apart from utility bills for electricity, water, gas and landline phone, the following documents can also count as a proof of address:

  • Bank statement from another British bank.
  • Rent agreement with your name and surname on a letterhead of a British estate agency (accepted by Lloyds).
  • Letter from the job centre plus your NI number (accepted by Barclays).
  • Letter from the university for students.

Some British banks can also require your CV, proof of address in your homeland and income statement. The list of the necessary documents depends on the requirements of a particular bank.

What documents are required for opening a corporate account?

To open a corporate account in the UK, you will have to prepare more documents, including those that provide information about your company, its scope of activities and its turnover. The requirements include:

  • Indicating name and registration number of the company – bank staff can check this information on the Companies House website.
  • Providing a detailed description of the company scope of activity, including types of transactions, currencies and countries that you plan to work with.
  • Providing copies of contracts with British partners or invoices.
  • Personal visit to the bank to submit documents (for each director and stakeholder with a share exceeding 10-25%).

To open a corporate account, you will also need to provide proof of your business address in the UK. UK business address is where your office or production facility is located in the UK.

  • We recommend a bank based on client’s individual needs
  • Risk of refusal is minimum
  • You can get a personal account in 24 hours
  • You can get a corporate account in 2 week
  • We help to collect and prepare all necessary documents
  • We provide a business address for opening a corporate account
  • You get legal assistance and consultation during the whole process
  • You can apply for a bank account from the comfort of your home
  • We provide professional translation of documents
  • We offer full confidentiality
Why should you open a British or European bank account with Imperial & Legal?

Opening a bank account in the UK

For corporate clients

Normally, the UK retail banks are the ones to work with legal entities; they are willing to provide the service free of charge for the first year or two, a wide functionality of online systems as well as a variety of services for their corporate clients.

At the same time retail banks have the toughest account opening requirements. One of the most common problems is that retail banks prefer to reject non-UK residents at the application review stage, though officially there is no direct restriction for that.

Private banks rarely work with corporate clients, and they usually offer corporate banking for individuals as an additional service.

It does not mean, however, that it is impossible for a corporate client to open a bank account in the UK. Our advisors can help to open a bank account in any top British retail bank as part of the Imperial package for a UK-registered company. We will provide you with a business address and, if required, with a nominee.

For private clients

With Imperial & Legal you can open a personal account in a retail or private bank. Private banks usually assess their potential clients less formally, but they are more focused on personal rather than corporate banking.

In the UK, individuals can open bank accounts of two types:

  1. Current Account – used for day-to-day payments and transactions. Once you open a bank account, you also get a chequebook and a plastic card. You can have your salary sent to this account and use it for paying bills and shopping. Normally, banks do not set any restrictions on withdrawals from current accounts.
  2. Savings Account – is convenient for keeping money. It has no card attached to it and imposes certain restrictions on withdrawals from your account.

Upon signing an agreement with a bank, you may be offered some special services depending on your financial state and marketing policy of the bank. With mobile apps and online-banking, you can manage your accounts and order plastic cards.

Opening a bank account in Europe

If for some reason you do not want or cannot open a bank account in the UK, Imperial & Legal experts can help you to open an account in European banks, including top banks in Austria, Lichtenstein, Czech, Cyprus, Latvia, Estonia and many other EU countries.

European banks usually charge higher fees than the UK banks, but they assess their potential clients less formally, so it will be easier for you to open a bank account there. What’s more, some banks in the Baltic countries develop online apps in different languages to attract clients and can offer you a personal account manager.

Corporate account in Europe

The main benefits of having a corporate account in Europe include:

  • Remote account opening – in most cases you will not have to go anywhere.
  • Working with offshore companies.
  • Full control over a bank account for the owners of UK-registered companies that use nominee services.
  • User-friendly online systems.
  • Working with various currencies, including rouble, and issuing bank cards in those currencies.

For IT companies registered in main jurisdictions, we can offer special solutions that will let them significantly improve their services and simplify their work.

Personal account in Europe

European banks provide very flexible and loyal terms for their clients, such as remote account opening, user-friendly online systems and multi-currency cards, including cards in US dollars, euro and roubles.

European banks also offer attractive investment opportunities and individual approach for each client (including personal account manager service). All these account for the popularity of the EU banks.

Our advisors will recommend you the bank that is most suitable for you based on your individual needs, help to prepare all the necessary documents and support you during the whole process of opening a bank account in Europe.

FAQ about opening a bank account in the UK or Europe

How long does it normally take to open a bank account in the UK?

Everything depends on a British bank, its policy on working with non-UK clients and the type of the account that you want to open. In a retail bank, you can get a personal account within 24 hours and a corporate account in 4 weeks. In a private bank, opening an account takes from 2 to 4 weeks.

How can you prove your address in the UK?

You can prove your address with a British driving license that shows the address of its owner. If you have a European driving license, you can exchange it for a British one. You can also start taking driving lessons in the UK. For this purpose, you will get a temporary driving license that will also contain your address.

What is an investment account?

In contrast to a personal account, an investment account can be opened even by a person who does not have a UK residence. As the name suggests, an investment account is opened for making an investment into the British economy, for example, to obtain a Tier 1 Investor visa. You can get more information about this program on our website.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in Europe?

The list of documents required for opening a bank account in Europe may vary, just as in the UK. The standard list of documents for a foreigner normally includes:

  1. A passport or international driving license.
  2. National ID card.
  3. Evidence of the legal source of funds.
  4. Tax ID number.
  5. Proof of address.
  6. Letter from the employer containing full name of the company, applicant’s position, etc.

Your legal advisors will translate, notarise and apostille all the necessary documents for you. To open a bank account in Europe your personal presence is not required. You can go through the whole process remotely. Still, you will have to send the documents to the bank by a courier.

Want to open a bank account?

We have been helping individuals and corporate clients to open accounts in the UK and European banks. Contact us to find out more.