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Open a bank account in UK

Whether you intend to move to the UK or are already in the UK, or if you plan to set up a business in the UK, you will need to open an account in a UK bank at some point. London is one of the leading financial centres and an account in a UK bank opens doors to the thriving financial sector and its opportunities.

Opening a UK bank account is used to be an extremely daunting task; though the procedure has been simplified and banks have become more flexible it is still a challenge. If you try and do it yourself, it is 98% risk that you will be refused.

We at Imperial & Legal have been opening bank accounts in the UK for our clients for many years. Our experts have an extensive theoretical knowledge and practical expertise that enables them to provide professional advice in any matter. We will help you prepare and obtain all required documents, support you through the whole application process up until the account is open and all paperwork is done. You can trust us because we know which requirements English banks have for the account opening.

Who can open a bank account in England

Basically, anyone who can:

  • provide a proof of address in the UK;
  • come to England to attend an appointment;
  • provide evidence of the legal source of funds;
  • communicate with a bank manager in English.

Required documents

  • valid ID or travel document;
  • proof of address.

Generally, there are no problems with providing some form of ID; however, it is sometimes challenging to provide a proof of address in the UK, especially if you have just started living in the country. Even British residents have the same problem sometimes. Normally, the following documents count as a proof of address, meaning they must show your name and address in the UK:

  • bank statement (if it is your first account, then it is a no-go);
  • utility bill for gas, water, electricity, landline phone, council tax, etc.;
  • letter from the Job Centre Plus with your NI number;
  • rent agreement on a letterhead and signed in your name;
  • letter from the university for students.

Account opening. What’s involved

In some cases, even a valid ID and proof of address cannot guarantee a bank will open an account for you. They often apply their own filters and requirements they do not even mention to a potential customer. Some banks have their own lists of countries they block automatically. At the same time other banks are very open and flexible. Anyway, the procedure requires you to personally attend an appointment to open a bank account.

Once an account is open, you will get a bank card and cheque book. There are no monthly fees apart from bank charges for some transactions. Cards are traditionally sent by post and are stolen sometimes. If it happens your bank will compensate any loss.

UK banks

The British banking system is traditionally one of the most stable and reliable in the world. That’s why a bank account in the UK is so popular among both individual and corporate clients.

Like in many other countries British banks are of two main types; large retail banks and private banks. We work with most retail banks such as Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, Metro, RBS, etc., as well as private banks such as Coutts, EFG Bank and others.

For corporate clients

Normally, UK retail banks are the ones to work with legal entities; they are willing to provide account service first year or two years free of charge, a wide functionality of online systems and a variety of services for their business and 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. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done but every case requires an individual approach.

We help to prepare all the required documents, present you and your business to a bank manager and support you during the whole process.

Private banks do not work with legal entities as often as retail banks and usually they are more focused on personal banking, providing corporate banking as an additional service.

We will only help a UK registered company to open a UK bank account if we sign an Imperial package.

For individuals

Based on your individual needs we will be able to recommend a bank most suitable for you. It can be both a retail bank for day-to-day simple operations or a private bank for a wider range of services or VIP services.

Private banks cannot offer the same wide range of their services, unlike the retail ones, but they are ready to review and assess their potential clients less formally, e.g. the country of your residence is not the key factor for them. At the same time, as private banks are more focused on personal banking, corporate banking usually comes as an additional service.

European banks

In some cases, when it’s not possible or preferable to open a bank account in the UK, we can offer a bank account in a European bank in countries like Austria, Lichtenstein, Czech, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus and others.

For corporate clients

Though the countries listed above are in the EU, their bank requirements significantly differ from those in the UK, and in many cases opening an account in those countries are much easier than in the UK. And in some cases, for example for offshore companies, it’s almost the only option. Besides, if you use nominees in your UK company, but want to manage your account yourself, European banks are a preferred solution.

European banks are more expensive, but they have several benefits:

  • working with offshore companies
  • working with various currencies, including Rubles, and issuing bank cards in those currencies
  • user-friendly online systems
  • meeting potential clients almost in any CIS country; it means you don’t have to go anywhere
  • opening an account in 24 hours
  • having knowledge about CIS markets

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

For individuals

European banks provide very flexible and loyal terms and conditions for their clients:

  • signing account opening documents in all capitals in all CIS countries
  • opening an account in 24 hours
  • personal account manager
  • issuing multi-currency cards, including in USD, Rubles, Euro, etc.
  • attractive investment offers

Based on your requirements we will recommend the best bank for you and help you prepare and obtain required documents.

To discuss your requirements, please contact our specialists or call us on +44 (0)203 490 41 21.

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