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.
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.
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.
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:
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