Cómo abrir una cuenta bancaria en el Reino Unido

How to open a bank account in the UK

If you’ve just moved to the UK, you’ll need to open a bank account to receive, save, deposit, and transfer money. Discover everything you need to know about setting up a bank account in the UK, including the documents you should have before your application.

Banks in the United Kingdom

With over 300 banking institutions, the UK boasts some of the oldest brand names in the world of banking, like the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Then there’s the “big four” of Barclays, Lloyds, HBSC, and NatWest. Collectively, the big four have the most branches, employees, and customers in the UK. 

Just by walking around, you’ll see other banks of all sizes, such as Halifax, Santander, and The Co-operative Bank. In addition to these high street banks, several app-only and supermarket banking companies all offer excellent banking services to individuals, students, and business customers.  

New to the UK? Need a fast way to send money overseas? Get two fee-free transfers, at market-beating rates, when you register with Azimo today. Visit the Azimo pricing comparison page to see just how much you can save versus banks and other providers.

Types of UK bank accounts

Bank accounts in the UK tend to fall under one of the following main categories:

  • Basic accounts.
  • Joint accounts.
  • Current accounts.
  • Savings accounts.
  • Business accounts.
  • Student accounts.

Each type of account offers different features and services to suit your financial needs or situation. For example, a basic account could be perfect if you’ve just arrived in the UK and don’t have a credit history. Business accounts are ideal if you want to make payments, receive special lending rates, and separate your business and personal funds. 

How to set up a bank account in person

To open an account at a bank branch, you may have to visit the branch to set up an appointment for another day. There may be times, provided you have the right documents, when you’re able to open an account on the same day. 

Either way, you’ll need to bring one proof of identity and at least one proof of address on a recent bill or statement. Each bank may have its own requirements, but the most commonly accepted documents are:

  • A passport.
  • A driver’s licence.
  • An EU identity card.
  • A National Insurance number.
  • A utility bill.
  • A telephone bill
  • A council tax bill
  • A mortgage statement
  • A rental contract.

Top tip:

To avoid any delays, take as many forms of identification as possible. If you’re new to the UK and don’t have any of the documents above, you may be able to bring a university or employer letter instead. You may also need to provide additional details such as your phone number and email address.

How to open a bank account online 

Advances in encryption technology mean that more banks now allow you to open an account online. For your peace of mind, this also means you can submit your documents online safely and securely. 

While the process of applying for an account online will differ from one bank to another, you should ensure that your documents are up-to-date and legible. The documents you’ll need to open a bank account online are an original or copy of:

  • A passport.
  • A driving licence.
  • An EU identity card.
  • A National Insurance number.
  • A utility bill.
  • A telephone bill.
  • A council tax bill.
  • A mortgage statement.
  • A rental contract.

You may also need to make an initial electronic deposit when you set up your online account. An electronic deposit means adding money to your new account from an existing one or an alternative source such as PayPal.

How to open an app-only bank account

In recent years, there has been a huge rise in the number of app-only or internet banks. Also known as digital banks, app-only banks have no branches on the high street, meaning you need to manage your account online. In the UK, the main app-only banks are Tandem, Starling Bank, Monese, Monzo, and Revolut.

The advantages of an app-only bank account are that they’re easy to open and don’t require as much paperwork as traditional banks. In some cases, you can even open an app-only account without proof of address.

Can you open a bank account without proof of address?

Yes – but it depends on the type of bank you choose.

With older banking institutions, you’ll need at least one proof of address to open an account. However, if you don’t have a permanent address or proof of one, opening an account with a digital bank such as Tandem or Monzo could be your best option.

With digital banks, you will need to give a UK address, but you usually won’t have to submit any documents to prove it. Bear in mind; you can only open a bank account without proof of address if you have proof of identity such as a passport or driving licence. 

How old do you need to be to open a bank account in the UK?

Most traditional UK banks require you to be over 18 years old, although some newer companies accept applications from people aged 16 and over. To open an account, many banks will require you to be resident in the UK, but that’s not always the case. 

Can you open a UK bank account from overseas?

Yes. If you’re about to move to the UK, certain banks will allow you to open an account from overseas. That’s because your bank at home may have a correspondent banking relationship with a bank in the UK. A correspondent bank is an authorised financial institution that provides services on behalf of another.

Some banks in the UK, like HSBC and Santander, are international banks operating in multiple continents. If you already have an account with an international bank, opening an account in the UK is easier.  

While opening a bank account from abroad could be the option for you, they often come with additional requirements such as:

  • A high initial deposit.
  • A minimum monthly deposit.
  • A monthly maintenance fee.

Top tip:

If you’re from outside the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland, you may need to provide a visa or residence permit.

How long does it take to open a bank account in the UK?

You can instantly open a bank account in the UK, or it can take up to 10 working days. It just depends on the bank and how you apply. 

If you attend an in-branch appointment, it’s easier for the bank to confirm your identity and process your details. Assuming you have the correct documents, you can open an account on the same day.

Online application times are variable, as banks may need more time to verify documents submitted on the internet. 

Where challenger and app-only banks can have you set up with an account in minutes, older banking institutions like HSBC and Lloyds TSB may require additional checks before approving your online application.

What’s the best bank account if you’re new to the UK? 

That depends on the services and features you need. If you’ve just arrived from overseas, you may want to start with a current account. A current account, internationally known as a transaction or checking account, lets you deposit, receive, withdraw and transfer money abroad or domestically. Before opening an account in the UK, have a look at Azimo’s list of things to consider when choosing a bank account: 

  • What is the initial minimum deposit

It varies from one bank to another, but sometimes you aren’t required to leave one at all. 

  • Is there a minimum monthly deposit? 

Some banks require you to deposit a certain amount every month to keep the account open.

  • Is there a minimum balance? 

Some banks do not let you go under a certain amount of money in your account. A fee may apply if you do.

  • Are there any overdraft fees? 

If you mistakenly or agree to take out more than your balance, a fee may apply. Check what the cost is and if you can afford it in the event of an emergency.

  • Is there a monthly service fee? 

Certain banks charge a monthly fee for the upkeep of your account. Monthly fees usually apply to accounts with a wider range of benefits. 

  • Does the bank have highly-rated online banking and mobile apps? 

If you like banking on-the-move, choose a bank with a secure and easy-to-use app and website.

  • Has the bank set a monthly transaction limit? 

Sometimes banks put a cap on how many transfers or withdrawals you can make every month.

  • Can you make low-fee overseas money transfers? 

If you need to send money to relatives abroad regularly, check if this feature is available and its costs.

They may be the best option for storing your cash, but banks should be avoided when it comes to sending money overseas. Download the app on iOS or Android and start transferring money to loved ones around the world. Register today and get your first two transfers fee-free and at exceptional exchange rates.