Once you are all settled in to your new home in the UK, one of the next steps is to open up a bank account.

The process can go a lot smoother if you know what to expect and how to prepare. We go over some of the banking basics to help you understand how best to go about opening an account.


Where to apply – online or in person

Most banks do require you to come in person to open up an account. If you would prefer to open up one online or over the phone, you can check online to see which banks might offer this.

However, we do recommend going in person to set everything up. Not only will the process be a bit speedier, but it’s also very helpful to have someone there who you can ask questions. This way you can instantly clarify anything you’re not sure of.

Which bank is the best choice

This question is a hard one – it really depends on you. You know you, your spending habits and personal circumstances better than anyone else.

There are a lot of different financial institutions, from huge companies to smaller, local banks so whatever you are looking for you’re sure to find something that fits your needs. The major banks across the UK are HSBC, RBS/NatWest, Barclays and Lloyds. They have a lot of experience with foreign customers who have moved here to the UK.

Whichever bank you choose to go with, make sure to focus on setting up a current account (also known as a checking account) first. With the current accounts, you do not have to pay for opening up an account – so make sure you are not charged for this. In some banks, setting up other types of accounts like savings, there might be a fee.

Ask about getting a debit card that is contactless, as it’s easier and quicker to make payments (under £30) with, as all you have to do is simply tap the card – no PIN or searching through your wallets for exact change needed.

Prepare your documents

Not all banks are the same, but most of them will ask for similar required documents and information when you apply.

To be able to verify your identity, you will need your passport – a driver’s license will not be enough for this. You’ll be asked to provide additional personal details such as your National Insurance Number, phone number and email address. Banks also need a proof of address and will accept documents like any utility bill or council tax bill.

There will also be a minimum deposit that the bank will ask for. It varies from company to company, but bring cash with you so that you’re all set to make your first deposit. You can also use the Azimo app to quickly and securely send money into your new bank account straight away.

Other questions to consider before choosing

Before making your final choice, there’s a few other points to think about. As each of these vary from institution to institution, check with the banks you’re leaning towards to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

  • Is there a minimum balance?
    Some banks do not let you go under a certain amount of money, or else you might get charged a fee if you go below the amount.
  • Are there any overdraft fees?
    If you overdraw on funds, a fee will be charged – check to see how expensive it might be from bank to bank.
  • Is there a monthly maintenance fee?
    To have an account, some banks do charge a monthly fee for it.
  • Is there a limit to transactions per month?
    Sometimes banks do put a cap how many transfers or withdrawals you do per month.
  • Is there a minimum amount required to deposit each month?
    Some banks require a certain amount to be deposited every month in order to keep the account open.
  • Does this bank of a highly-rated mobile app?
    The future is mobile – make sure that the bank you are thinking of choosing has a great mobile app that will help make the approval of transactions quick and easy. Without an app, you will need a small, physical card reader (the bank will provide you with this) in order to set up new transactions. It can be tricky to always remember to have it with you, so using an app will help make sure you can send and receive at any time.

Last but not least, keep your documents safe

Once you open up your bank account, you’ll receive important information like your pin number and bank account number. Make sure to keep these in a safe place where you won’t accidentally lose them.


One of the next steps on your journey to moving to the UK is to search for a job – stay tuned as next week we’ll give you all the best tips for searching for your next career here in the UK!