Living in Britain as a foreigner? How do I get a bank account?

If you’ve an expatriate interested in trying to open a bank account online in the UK, there are a few things that you will have to consider.

As the Telegraph has pointed out, although economic turmoil has many people are concerned about dealing with banks in other countries, many feel that banks in the UK are relatively stable. This is good for you. But still, there are a few issues to consider.

Choosing a Currency

When you open an account in Britain, you can choose to have the account in several currencies. The most commonly-chosen options are sterling, dollars, and euros. There are also accounts that offer combinations of currencies.

When choosing a currency, you should consider the future value of the currency (some people right now are not hopeful for the future of the euro). You should also consider which currency you will be dealing with most, and which you may be transferring back home. You’ll want to strike a balance between choosing a stable currency and avoiding surcharges for changing currency.

Watch the Minimum Balance

Many accounts have a minimum balance. If your account falls below the minimum balance, you will be charged an administration fee by the bank for keeping the account open. These fees are usually from $20 – 40 USD per month. That can add up quickly. So, you’ll want to try and choose an account where you feel confident that you’ll be able to meet the minimum balance.

Providing Proper Documentation

Banks in Britain are quite strict about establishing your identity when you open a bank account. you will need to present several forms of ID. You should be sure to bring your passport, as well as others.

It’s also likely that you’ll need to show proof of residence, which means that you’ll need to have a house or apartment, and the related documentation to prove it, before you can open a bank account. Make sure that you take care of this first.

Finally, the bank may want to run a credit check or ask for a reference from your bank in your home country, so you should be prepared for these things as well.


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