Economy & Finance
Banks in the UK
The UK Banking System
Banks in the UK specialize in different services for both personal and business purposes. Thus, not all banks in the UK may suit your needs. The different branches of the British banking system include:
- High Street Banks: these offer services to the general public.
- Business Banking: these services are offered by high street banks in addition to ordinary accounts. They often include additional services and fees.
- Investment Banking: these services are usually offered by financial institutions on behalf of high street banks, investment trusts, and pension funds. They invest money in stock and bond markets.
- Central Banks: these are setting the Monetary Policy of the country in some cases, and ensure sufficient liquidity or act as a lender. The central bank in the UK is the Bank of England.
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, banks in the UK still act as employer to 0.5 million people. Banks in the UK and their financial services contribute 6.8% of the national GDP and offer banking services to 95% of the country’s population.
Top UK Banks
Although there are a lot of big and small banks in the UK offering all kinds of financial services, some of them are more popular than others. The top banks in the UK are:
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Lloyds Banking Group
- Standard Chartered
This does not mean, of course, that one of these is necessarily the best choice for you. Other banks include Santander, Halifax, NatWest, 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 in the UK they recommend.
Opening a Bank Account
While opening a bank account in the UK used to be a rather complicated endeavor, banks in the UK have started to ease the process for expats. The most convenient way to do it is by opening a bank account before your move. 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 a second time with the right 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 improved 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 Passport Account which only requires some form of identification and proof of a non-UK 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:
- Utility bills
- Council tax bills
- Bank and credit card statements
- Tenancy agreements and bank statements
- UK medical card, NHS card, or UK driving license
Motor or home insurances certificates
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