How Can I Open A UK Business Bank Account as a Non-Resident International Client?
An increasing number of foreigners are opening companies in the UK. Formations agents receive questions about the opening of bank accounts all the time. The truth is that although you need a limited number of documents in order to form a limited company, opening a bank account can be really difficult.
Banks are far more conservative and they often reject applications from overseas residents. This article shows you what you need to do to open a UK bank account as a foreigner.
You Do Not Need a UK Bank Account
A misconception some people have about forming a new company online is that they will need a UK bank accounte. In a number of countries, it is indeed necessary to open an account in that couintry in order to trade. The UK is different; it allows you to use your account from abroad, so long as you make it clear to the authorities that you are using a foreign bank account.
it is better to have a UK bank account, though, because it makes it easier to trade. Imagine the difficulties and costs of making overseas transactions all the time. It is a hassle you do not want when opening a company.
Do You Need to Reside in the UK?
No, it is not necessary to be living in the UK to open a bank account in the country. It is a wise move to get UK residency before applying for one, though. A lot of banks will not entertain an application without a fixed UK address due to concerns over fraud.
A registered office address is not sufficient for most banks. You will need to prove that you have residency and so you need a UK home address.
What Options Are There for Business Bank Accounts?
The bank account opening process is the same for most banks. You will need to submit personal and company information. A face-to-face interview is always going to be required, and you will have to submit identification, such as your passport or a UK driving licence.
Some banks have different conditions about non-nationals attempting to open business bank accounts.
HSBC – Non-resident directors may open an account, but the owners of the company have to come to the UK and present photographic ID, and proof of address. They will have to sign a bank mandate.
Lloyds Bank – Lloyds offers business bank accounts to non-residents, but only if at least one director actually lives in the UK. This UK resident must visit the bank in person.
Barclays – There are no stipulations for opening international bank accounts but international accounts must be opened from their branch in the Isle of Man. You will have the same benefits as onshore account holders, but your account will be classed as offshore. A Barclays account also requires you to place £25,000 into it within a month of opening it. Sometimes they will waive the requirement if you include a suitable covering letter in your application
What is the Situation Like on the Ground?
The best way to ensure that your application is accepted is to think about the situation from the banks’ point of view. You must assume that they are always looking at the possibility of fraud. Offering to leave a large deposit in the account as security may help them to believe you are serious.
If you are able to prove you have an address in the UK, this is another point in your favour. Having multiple directors and shareholders is another indicator of trustworthiness because they are not relying on one single person to deal with them. They have multiple points of contact if there is a problem.
In general, the process of opening a business bank account in the United Kingdom can take a few weeks so it is best to get this out of the way before you attempt to formally start trading.