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  • Writer's picturePat Harper

Guide to Opening UK Business Bank Account for Non-UK Residents

Updated: 4 days ago


 a man reading the guide on how to open a UK bank account

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Opening a business bank account in the UK as a non-resident might seem complicated, but it gets much easier with the right help. This guide introduces four different ways non-residents can set up a business bank account in the UK.


We'll go through each method step by step, explaining the important details so you can pick the best option for you and set up your business  account as a non-uk resident without any trouble.


Keep in mind that banks have strict rules to prevent money laundering. This means that they can sometime make you 'jump through hoops' which can make opening an account as a non-uk resident seem a bit tricky.




Setting Up a UK Limited Company as a Non-Resident


a person holding a magnifying glass learning how to open a UK banking account

Before you embark on opening a business account, you will need to set up a UK limited company. After officially registering your limited company in the UK, you will receive a unique company number and a registered office address, which is likely to be your UK accountant's address. This address offers a legitimate point of contact for your legal stipulations.




The UK Business Bank Account Application Process


a cup of coffee and pen

Be mindful that banks may reject applications from businesses they perceive as too minor or not commercially viable. To avoid this, consider providing information such as:


  • It might be beneficial for your anticipated turnover to be a minimum of £500,000 in revenue.

  • It might be beneficial for the amount of capital you intend to deposit to be enough to fund multiple property purchases (maybe minimum £500,000).

 

However, it's important to note that once your account is established, banks typically do not enforce the adherence to the projected figures you provided. And in reality, some applicants will have more optimistic business forecasts than others!



a hand holding a marker writing on a board about options on how to open a UK business bank account


Option 1 - Opening a UK High-street Bank Account via Your Local Branch


If your local bank has branches in both your country and the UK, trying to open a UK account via your local branch might be advantageous. This option is particularly viable with international banks like HSBC, Barclays, and Lloyds. Another option for people living in Hong Kong or Singapore might be The Bank of East Asia because they have banks in Asia and UK too.



Option 2 - Opening a UK High-street Bank Account During a UK Visit


Opening a bank account in person while in the UK can be the most straightforward approach. All the banks listed in the the previous section are preferred choices. If you already have an account with a bank that operates both in your home country and the UK, you can request your local branch to arrange an appointment with a UK branch on your behalf.


However, be prepared for a potential long wait time for an appointment. Furthermore, it's crucial to inquire about the necessary documents and paperwork needed for a seamless account setup. Ensure you bring these items with you, which may include utility bills, identification documents, passports, etc., to your appointment.



Option 3 - Utilising Online Business Banks


Consider online banks like Starling, Tide, or Revolut, Monzo, Wise which offer business banking services without physical branches. You can complete the entire application process through their mobile apps.


Many online banks may require a UK mobile phone number for verification purposes, where they send a one-time passcode. If you know someone residing in the UK, you can ask them to post a 'pay as you go' SIM card to you.


Another option is to use an app like Devyce, which provides you with a UK mobile number. You can then use this number to register with the online bank.



Option 4 - Using GetGround


There is a company called GetGround that can simultaneously establish a limited company and a UK bank account for overseas property investors. While there are monthly fees associated with this service and potential inflexibilities, it may not be as advantageous as the DIY process (options 1 to 3). However, if you'd like an introduction to GetGround, please let me know, and I can facilitate that.




FAQ


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1. What are the requirements for non-UK residents to open a business bank account in the UK?

Non-UK residents need to have their limited company registered in the UK, a unique company number, and a registered office address in the UK. They must provide identification documents, proof of address, and sometimes, a detailed business plan or forecast.


2. Can I open a UK business bank account entirely online?

Yes, with online banks like Starling, Tide, or Revolut, you can complete the application process entirely online. However, you may need a UK mobile number for verification.


3. What are the potential hurdles in opening a UK business bank account as a non-resident?

Challenges include navigating anti-money laundering rules, meeting the bank's risk assessment criteria, and sometimes providing a significant initial deposit or proof of expected turnover.


4. How long does it take to open a business bank account in the UK for non-UK residents?

The time can vary widely depending on the bank and the specifics of your application. It can be as fast as a few days.


5. Do I need to have a registered limited company in the UK to open a business bank account?

Most banks require you to have a registered limited company in the UK, although there may be exceptions or alternative solutions provided by some financial institutions or services like GetGround.


6. What are the financial thresholds or requirements mentioned by banks, and how strictly are they enforced?

Some banks may have preferred minimum thresholds for turnover or initial deposits (e.g., £500,000), but these are not always strictly enforced after the account is opened. However, meeting these thresholds can influence the bank's decision to approve your application.


7. What are the differences between opening an account with a traditional bank versus an online bank?

Traditional banks usually require an in-person visit and more documentation. Online banks offer a quicker, fully digital application process but might have fewer services compared to traditional banks.


8. Can I use a service like GetGround to simplify the process, and what are the trade-offs?

GetGround can streamline the process by handling both company registration and bank account opening. The trade-off might be monthly fees and less flexibility compared to directly dealing with the bank.


9. What documents and information do I need to provide during the application process?

Typically, you'll need your passport, proof of address, business documentation (like incorporation certificates and business plans), and potentially financial forecasts or proof of expected business activities.


10. Can I open a UK business bank account without a UK address or phone number?

It's challenging but not impossible. Online banks may only require a UK mobile number, which can be obtained remotely. For a UK address, using a service that provides a legal business address might be necessary.


11. How can a non-uk resident open a business account in the UK?

To open a business account in the UK as a non-uk resident, you typically need to provide proof of identity, proof of address outside the UK, and fulfill the bank's specific requirements for non-resident account holders.


12. What are the steps to open a business bank account in the UK?

To open a business bank account in the UK, you will need to choose a bank, gather the required documentation, meet the eligibility criteria, and visit the bank branch or apply online to start the account opening process.


13. Can non-uk residents open business bank accounts in the UK?

Yes, bank accounts for non-uk residents are available in the UK. Non-uk residents can explore options like virtual bank accounts and international banks that offer services to non-UK residents.


14. Do UK banks offer business accounts for non-residents?

Some UK banks do offer business bank accounts for non-residents. It's essential to check with the specific banks about their policies and requirements for non-resident business account holders.


15. What are the requirements to open a UK business bank account?

To open a UK business bank account, you typically need to provide documents such as proof of business, identification, address verification, and potentially meet certain financial requirements set by the bank.


16. Is it possible to open a UK bank account as a non-resident?

Yes, it is possible for a non-UK resident to open a UK bank account. However, the process and requirements may vary depending on the bank and the individual's circumstances.


17. How important is having a physical presence in the UK to open a business account?

Having a physical presence in the UK is not always necessary to open a business account. Some banks may offer online account opening services or have specific provisions for non-resident account holders.


18. Can non-UK residents open a business current account in the UK?

Non-UK residents can explore options to open a business current account in the UK. Some banks may have specific services tailored.



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