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How to open a bank account in the UK — with advice for start-up businesses

How to open a bank account in the UK — with advice for start-up businesses

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Opening a bank account is not straightforward for everyone, for instance, trying to open an account as a foreigner in the UK, a student, or without proof of address. 

There are situations where you need good advice, such as when opening a business bank account. Even standard customers need to know certain things to ensure they are receiving the best experience. 

So, let's find out how to open a bank account in the UK — the smart way.  


How to Open a Bank Account in the UK for Foreigners 

A recurring issue for foreigners and expats is how to open a bank account in the UK without proof of address. There are various approaches to this problem: 

  1. Letter from employer: Banks can ask for the proof of residency letter from the employer. It should contain details of the company on official letterhead. The letter can further state your current designated living address.  
  2. Tenancy letter or utility bills: You may consider paying the first month's rent for the rental unit using a foreign bank account. After securing the tenancy agreement that proves where you live, you can use it when applying for a new bank account. Note that not all banks may accept a private tenancy letter. They may want to see a tenancy letter issued by the housing association or local council.  
  3. Non-UK address: Some banks allow applicants to use non-UK documents as proof of address. However, they may ask the applicant to have the documents certified by a local bank, solicitor, or UK embassy or consulate in their home country. Check for more detailed instructions on the bank's website on what they require for non-UK applications, or speak to their support agents.  

You’ll still need to establish your identity by providing a national identity card, passport, or UK resident permit. 


How to Open a Business Bank Account 

The requirements for opening a business bank account are a bit different from standard user accounts. You may need to supply business details such as the registration number, registered office address, or incorporation date. 

If your business has multiple partners or directors, the bank also requires their details, including the NIN, address, names, etc. 

Sole traders are not mandated to use separate business accounts. But most banks advise customers to have separate accounts and may offer products such as business current accounts. For tax and liability reasons, it's much more preferable to register a limited company. 

It’s quite easy to transition from a sole trader to a limited company setup. You can form a single shareholder and single director limited company in as little as 10 minutes on GoSolo if you have all the required documents. The requirements for these accounts include: 

  • Photo ID
  • Proof of address
  • Complete a selfie video


How Can You Open a Bank Account in the UK Without Proof of Address?

* GoSolo is introducing non-UK resident business accounts for users who can’t offer proof of address in the UK. The feature is still in Beta, but you can register your interest

After fulfilling the main requirements, don’t simply rush to open an account with the first bank that comes your way. It’s essential to watch out for certain things as you open a business bank account in the UK: 

  • Fees and costs: Consider how much electronic transactions will cost. Is it cheaper to pay a fixed fee per month or per transaction?  
  • Intuitive business features and benefits: Banks now offer additional features with their business accounts, such as FPS payments, mobile bank apps, or invoicing.  
  • Cash flow and lending: Businesses may need to borrow to expand or address cash shortages. You can check if the bank provides overdrafts or invoice financing.  
  • Convenience: Few banks allow customers to open their business bank accounts online wholly. Making the application in person may be hugely inconvenient for some customers. Fully digital business accounts such as the ones provided by GoSolo offer maximum convenience. 


How Long Does It Take to Open a Business Bank Account 

It may take as little as 10 to 15 minutes to open a completely digital bank account. The process can take much longer if you have to complete it in person — there will be an introductory meeting to attend, along with gathering and submitting the required documents.  

Get your startup business off the ground with our easy company formation process. You can have a fully registered company and a matching business account in as little as 24 hours. You get access to a Mastercard debit card for business expenditure, and a mobile app to make payments and manage other account aspects.

By GoSolo Better Business Banking