Join now
Log in Join

Need expat info for United Kingdom?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Banks in the UK with relevant information for expats.

Jan-Peter van Tijk

Living in the UK, from the Netherlands

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

Living in the UK, from Ghana

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

InterNations - a community of trust

Economy & Finance

Banks in the UK

There are lots of different banks in the UK offering lots of different services. Yet, opening an account in the UK can be challenging for expats. We provide you with an overview of the most popular banks, the services they offer, as well as tips on how to open a bank account.

All You Need to Know about the British Banking System  

Banks in the UK specialize in different services for both personal and business purposes. Thus, not all banks may suit your needs. The different branches of the British banking system include:

The banking system is supposed to support the economy of the country and ensure a certain amount of stability. Despite the financial crisis in recent years, over one million people are employed in financial services. Banks and their financial and related professional services contribute 11.8% of the national GDP.

The Big Five: Top UK Banks

Although there are a lot of big and small banks offering all kinds of financial services, some of them are more popular than others. The top banks in the UK are:

This does not mean, of course, that one of these is necessarily the best choice for you. Other banks include Santander, Halifax, Standard Chartered, and Tesco Bank. They may very well offer services and deals which are more suited to your needs. Before opening a bank account, it makes sense to “shop around” and ask your friends which banks they recommend.

How to Open a Bank Account in the UK

While opening a bank account in the UK used to be a rather complicated endeavor, banks have started to simplify the process for expats. The most convenient way to do it is by opening a bank account before your move. Your bank at home might be able to set up an account for you, if it has the correspondent banking relationship with a British one. Many banks also offer international accounts which are especially designed for non-residents. Please note that you might be asked to make a big initial deposit or pay a monthly fee for the latter.

However, if you prefer to take care of it after your arrival, you should make sure to come prepared. Once you have chosen a bank for yourself, you should make sure to make an appointment with the staff there. Find out ahead of time which forms and which types of identification you may need. It will save you a lot of time if you have the right forms with you and don’t have to go back again with the correct paperwork. Keep in mind that some banks may require you to deposit a start-up amount on your new account.

Opening an Account without a UK Address

Please remember that even though the process of opening a bank account has been simplified for expats, opening an account without any proof of address in the UK can be quite difficult. Luckily, some banks are offering services specifically suited for newly arrived expats. One such service is the HSBC Basic Account which only requires some form of identification and proof of a EU address. If this is not the bank of your choice, don’t forget that passports, birth certificates, or National Insurance Cards do not count as proof of address. Instead, try to submit one of the following:


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine