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Where To Open a Bank Account in the UK for a Non Resident

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated July, 16, 2023

Opening a bank account is not a legal requirement in the UK, but it can make your life there a lot easier.

But, how can you open a bank account in the UK for a non-resident, and what are the best banks to do that?

Let’s find out!

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Who Is Considered a Non-Resident?

Whether you’re considered a UK resident or not mainly depends on how many days you’ve spent in the UK in a tax year (6 April- 5 April the following year). 

You’re considered a non-UK resident if you:

  • Spent fewer than 16 days in the UK (or 46 days for those that have not been classed as a UK resident for the 3 previous tax years.)
  • Work abroad full-time (at least 35 hours a week) and spent fewer than 91 days in the UK, of which you worked fewer than 30.

How To Open a Bank Account In The UK As An Expat?

To open a bank account in the UK as a non-resident, you will need to have a UK address unless you’re already banking with an international bank that has UK coverage.

There are also some banks, like Monese and Monzo, that do not require applicants to list a UK address.

Most banks will ask you to fill out an application form and undergo a credit check (which you may be able to skip if you’re opening a basic account), for which you’ll need to provide certain documents.

They usually ask for the following documents to open a bank account for a non-UK resident:

  • A valid photo ID or a passport.
  • A council tax bill or a recent utility bill (less than three months old).
  • Proof that you’re studying in the UK (if applying for a student account).
  • Proof of employment.

The majority of banks also require customers to be at least 18 years old when opening a UK bank account as a foreigner, though there are exceptions. For example, Starling Bank offers accounts for people that are 16 or older

Note:  Most UK banks take 1-2 days to open your account.

How To Open a Bank Account In The UK From Abroad?

Some banks, such as NatWest, offer international UK bank accounts for non-residents that can be opened overseas.

The process varies from one bank to another. Some banks allow you to apply for an account online, others require applicants to visit a bank branch (in the country where they’re residing). 

Most require documents like proof of address, proof of income, and passport ID. If you’re living in a non-EU-EFTA country, you may be asked to provide visa information to open a UK bank account from abroad.

Note: The process of opening a non-UK resident bank account from abroad is longer than if you were opening a bank account in the UK. It can take anywhere between 10 and 15 days. 

What Can You Do To Prepare For Opening a Bank Account In The UK For Non-Residents?

To make your transition as smooth as possible, you should check if:

  • Your debit and credit cards can be used abroad.
  • You are familiar with the transfer fees and currency exchange fees.
  • Your bank can help you open a UK account.

You can open an international account. Revolut or Starling Bank are some of the few banks in the UK that don’t require a minimum deposit to keep a bank account for non-UK residents active.

How Do You Choose a Bank Account In The UK as a Non-Resident?

Here are some things to consider when looking to open a bank account for a non-UK resident:

  • Flexibility – if you want access to a 24/7 banking service, you might want to consider mobile bank accounts
  • Costs – Every bank charges different fees and costs. Some charge for withdrawing money, while others have monthly fees. 
  • Product and service – This includes anything from borrowing options to services like investments, insurance, and mortgages.
  • International transfer service –  if you’re a frequent traveller or have family overseas,  look for banks that offer multi-currency accounts like Wise.

Is It Worth Opening a Bank Account In The UK as a Non-Resident?

There are some benefits to opening a bank account in the UK for non-residents:

  • Non-residents that are planning to work in the UK need to open a UK  bank account for a non-resident so that the employer can transfer their salary there.
  • A UK bank account will make it easier to find a property to rent and cover related costs. It’s also a convenient option when it comes to paying bills. 
  • You won’t have to pay conversion and transfer fees every time you use your debit card in the UK.
  • If you run into any issues with your bank account or card (for example, you lock yourself out of your home bank account while in the UK), it would be more difficult to deal with it internationally. 

Bottom Line

A non-UK resident can open a bank account in the UK with or without proof of address or a credit check. If you’re still living abroad, you may look for international providers or banks that have UK coverage. This way, you could set yourself up with a UK bank account before settling in the UK.

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

Can a foreigner open a bank account in the UK?

Non-residents can open a bank account in the UK with the necessary documentation.

Can I have a UK bank account if I live abroad?

You can open a bank account in the UK but for a non-resident– even if you live abroad– either online or by visiting a local branch with a provider that has coverage in the UK.

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.