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Opening a Bank Account in the UK


Find out how to open a UK bank account. 


Did you know that opening a British bank account can seem next to impossible when you first arrive in the UK? (You can actually get the ball rolling before you leave home)

Without one though, you cannot get paid and pay for things.

The reason banks make it difficult is due to the amount of identification they require.

If your just about to arrive or just arrived in the UK, chances are you don't have documents like lease agreements or utility bills.

Even if you do a bank may only offer the most basic form of a bank account - one with no online banking and no ATM card.

In this guide you we will show you how to open a bank account easily no matter what your circumstances. 


  Your UK Banking Options 



Option 1

Open a Bank Account from Anywhere  - Designed for High Net Worth Individuals


Option 2

DIY - Sort it Out When You Get There

(OK with a bank account that has restrictions like no internet or phone banking)

 Option 3

Purchase a Bank Account Set-Up Package Before You Leave or On Arrival

(For working travellers

or expats moving to the UK who want a fully operational bank account)

Hassle Factor: Medium     

Cost Factor: High



Hassle Factor: High 

Cost Factor: Low


Hassle Factor: Very Low

Cost Factor: Medium


Go   Go  Go


Which option is best for you?

Your best option depends somewhat on your personal circumstances.

If you are a high net worth individual (as determined by the bank but usually over $1M) there are offshore services set up by the major UK banks and Option 1 may be your best option. 

If you are a working traveller or in the process of moving to the UK - Option 3 is the most efficient, hassle free way. Not only do you end up with a fully operational bank account that enables you to do telephone banking, internet banking everything is made easy for you. You do need to be moving to the UK and have a passport and work visa.

If you plan to sort it out when you get there yourself, it can be done... eventually. Initally however banks in the UK are likely to only offer a restricted bank account - think 1980s passbook style. No card, no internet or telephone banking. Yes the banks want your money, but due to banking regulations in the UK and anti-money laundering laws you need to show a bank all kinds of proof that you are established in the UK (which if you just arrived you are unlikely to have). This does vary from bank to bank to some degree and even branch to branch. Fortunately Option 3 exists. 

Also worth considering is the ablity to transfer money - to and from your new bank account. Whilst you will likely need to open an account in the UK, being able to move money cost efectively (ie. low fees and especially good exchange rates) is something you will want to do. For this we recommend choosing a money transfer company that acts as a 3rd party between the banks in both countries and saves a bundle of money.

Another great service is Borderless which can be opened much more easily than a bank account but gives you a huge advantage - like being able to get international bank details in four different countires instantly.

  • British account number and sort code
  • Australian account number and BSB code
  • European IBAN
  • American account number and routing number

In practice what this means is, you get a bank account number in the UK, USA, Australia and Europe to accept payments like wages, freelance income or rent. Alternately you can pay anyone in those countries more easily too - even yourself and with much better exchange rates. To find out more check out Transumo.

 Explore Your UK Banking Options

Option 1:

Open a Bank Account for High Net Worth Individuals (Offshore Accounts)
Required Ideal if
  • A passport
  • A sizable initial deposit (minimum £1000 but often £25000 or more)
  • An established account with the same bank in your home country 
  • You Should Know

    You may be able avoid making a high initial deposit if you're willing to open a restricted account. Restricted accounts won't come with basics like online banking or bank cards.

  • You are a high net worth individual (Over $1M)
  • Have funds to invest
  • You're likely to use other bank services like mortgages and wealth management 

Option 2: 

DIY - Sort it Out Once You Get There (Not Recommended)

Required  Ideal if
  • A passport 
  • A letter of employment
  • A lease or bills in your name to a UK address
  • Potentially a letter from your current bank that notes how long you've been a customer and states that your account is in good standing. 
    • Tip: If this isn't possible, try printing a recent bank statement that includes your name and address
  • You have established a lease and paid bills several weeks to a month before your arrival in the UK. 
  • You won’t need immediate access to a bank account after arriving in the UK

 Option 3: 

Purchase a Bank Account Setup Package Before You Leave Or When You Arrive.

Required Ideal if
  • A passport
  • A valid working visa
  • Costs

    For Australians: $85-$198. For Other Nationalities: €35. (No specific minimum deposit required) 

  • Additional Services Included

    These packages offer other helpful perks for newcomers ot the UK, like NI number assistance, job assistance and an included UK SIM card. Read more below

  • You want a fully functioning, low or zero fee bank account with full access to online, phone and ATM services.
  • You don't won't to make an initial deposit.
  • You don't yet have proof of UK residency, as well as bills in your name in the UK
  • You don't yet have a letter of employment   

Note: Travellers companies that provide bank account services and national insurance number services usually keep the cost of these services very low. The idea is to attract your custom for the many other services they offer. Either way we think the benefit you get from having your bank account sorted out and hassle avoided is well worth the money. Below are two companies that are well established and highly recommended for different reasons.


Other Things to Look for in a Bank Account Setup Package

Bank account setup packages often seem to throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Some useful, some not.

Here is a inclusions you might find useful.


Full Access Bank Account


You’ll get set up for a UK bank account with a complete set of features, unlike the accounts you would likely have to open without assistance. This means you get features like a debit card that can be used at ATMs, rather than a cash card that cannot, as well as access to online banking.

NI Number Assistance          

 You can organise your NI number yourself, though you may have a tough go working your way through requisite governmental bureaucracy. With NI assistance, travelers' companies will help you streamline the process.

UK SIM Card          

Getting a SIM card that’s ready for use in the UK makes you ready to start your job search and contact the new friends you’ll make. These SIM cards do not come with a contract, so you can often use the handset you already have from home, though it may need to be unlocked. For the long term, you may want to shop around for a contract plan and new handset that suits you better, but this SIM card gives you a way to be contacted and communicate as soon as you arrive and as you contact employers for potential jobs. 


Arrival Meeting           

The purpose of arrival meetings is to get assistance with officially opening your bank account once you arrive and to introduce you to other services each company offers. Depending on your package provider, these services may include tax services, social events, relocation services, visa services, travel services, CV writing, job assistance and others. You should know, if you’re only interested in opening your bank account, or if you’re based outside of London, these meetings likely won’t be very useful for you.


Money Transfer Deals          

International money transfer deals come with many bank account set-up packages, but may vary quite a bit from one company to another. When packages say they provide ‘free’ money transfers, this means they cover the transfer’s transaction fee, which can be as high as $40 AUS or £20 when transfer your money directly through a bank. 

Pro Tip: Pay attention to exchange rates.  More

Before you start moving significant sums (meaning more than $2000), it pays to compare the exchange rate differences offered by various transfer services because these will potentially add up to more than the transaction cost. The transfer service you choose should be a balance between convenience and cost.



Compare Bank Account Set-Up Packages

Here are the two largest and in our opinion best bank account setup packages in the UK right now. 

Use this comparison table to decide which one is right for you.

 1st Contact: Kickstart
BritBound: UK Starter 
Bank Lloyds or HSBC or Metro Lloyds and Barclays
NI number assistance Yes  Yes
SIM Card Yes (Standard, Micro or Nano SIM) Receive your number before arriving in the UK Yes (Standard, Micro or Nano SIM) Receive your number before arriving in the UK
Meeting in London Optional Optional Upgrade
Nationalities covered Aus, NZ, Can, South Africa, US, EU and Worldwide Aus, NZ, Can and EU citizens
Price £25 (Bank Account Only)


£35 (WORKgateways Only!)

Requirements Valid leave to enter and work in the UK Valid leave to enter and work in the UK 
Social Perks  

An informative ‘Life in UK’ guide covering everything you need to know when moving to the UK.

Travel tour discount coupons for over 10 UK Tour companies including Contiki, Busabout, Travel Talk & Topdeck Travel.

Membership to Britbound's Social Events Community - exclusive to 365 events per year
Free 1 Big Night out Pub Crawl – valued £50
Discounted entry to nightclubs, events and on EU/UK trips
Other services

2 free international money transfers (1st & 5th) and we will also throw in a free transfer on your birthday
Free CV and Job Assistance
25% discount off travel insurance
5 day free gym membership with Fitness First
Cheap Accommodation providers
One year access to the UK entertainer App

2 x free international money transfers
Free job assistance and CV resources
5-day free gym trial
Local accommodation advice and assistance
Free WiFi access at Britbound's base 




The Bottom Line (our opinion)

For those who want assistance opening a bank account but prefer to settle into life in the UK with ease. Also has an option to get full service assistance with obtaining your NI number at a very reasonable rate. Get Kickstart Now!

Cheap and value packed. More social than the Kickstart package, The UK Starter offers travelers a supportive community in London. This package is best for those who want personalised, well-rounded assistance and want to jump into the London social scene. Get Starter Now!


Learn More About Each Package


1st Contact         BritBound