There are an increasing number of foreigners opening companies in the UK. The majority of formations agents receive questions regarding the opening of a bank account all the time. The brutal truth is that although you need a limited number of documents to form a limited company, opening up a bank account can be difficult.
Banks tend to be far more conservative and they commonly reject applications from overseas residents. This article is going to show you what you need to do to open a bank account as a foreigner.
You Don’t Need a UK Bank Account
One of the misconceptions people have about forming a new company online is that they need a UK bank account to operate. In many countries, it’s necessary to open an account in order to trade. The UK allows you to use your account from abroad, as long as you make it clear that you are using a foreign bank account.
But it’s always better to have a UK bank account because it makes it easy to trade. Imagine the difficulties of trying to make overseas transactions all the time. It’s a hassle you don’t need when opening a company.
Do You Need to Live in the UK?
No, it’s not necessary to live in the UK in order to open a bank account. It’s wise to acquire UK residency before applying for one, though. Most banks won’t entertain an application unless you have UK residency. This is due to concerns over fraud and the additional administration costs incurred by them.
A registered office address isn’t enough for most banks. You need to prove that you have residency and you need a home address.
What Options Do You Have for Business Bank Accounts?
The following information was correct as of this writing. The bank account opening process is the same for practically all banks. You will have to submit both personal and company information. Luckily, UK banks have a step-by-step process you can follow, and you can always have your agent handle most of the process for you.
A face-to-face interview is always required, and you will have to submit suitable identification, such as a passport or UK driver’s licence. The following banks have different conditions regarding non-nationals opening business bank accounts.
HSBC – Non-resident directors can open an account, but the owners of the company have to visit the UK and present a photographic ID, along with proof of address. They will also have to sign a bank mandate.
Lloyds Bank – Lloyds offers business bank accounts for non-residents, but only if one director lives in the UK. This UK resident has to visit the bank in person.
Barclays – There are no stipulations for opening international bank accounts with Barclays. But international accounts must begin from their branch in the Isle of Man. You will still have the same benefits as onshore account holders, but your account will be classified as offshore.
A Barclays account does demand that you have to place £25,000 into that account within the first month of opening it. Sometimes they do waive the requirement if you include a covering letter in your application, though.
What is the Situation Like on the Ground?
The way to ensure that you get your application accepted is to look at the situation from the point of view of the banks. You have to assume that they are always looking at the potential for fraud. An offer to leave a large deposit in the account will help them to believe that you are serious.
If you can prove that you have an address in the UK, this is another plus point in your favour. Multiple directors and shareholders is another sign of trustworthiness because they are not relying on one single person to deal with them. If something goes wrong, they have multiple points of contact.
In general, the process of opening a business bank account in the UK isn’t too hazardous. It can take a few weeks to open, so it’s best to get this out of the way before you formally start trading.
What are the biggest problems you have experienced when it comes to trying to open up a business bank account in the UK?