Can EU citizens get a bank account in the UK?

You might expect the UK’s relationship with the EU would make it easy to get a bank account for EU citizens in UK, but even before the EU Referendum and the Brexit negotiations, this was not always the case.

Despite the freedom of movement allowed between EU member states, the UK never joined the single currency of the euro, and this has always meant paying foreign exchange fees when you buy things in the UK using an account based abroad, even within the EU.

The alternative if you are going to live in the UK for any length of time is to open an account here, but access to UK bank accounts for EU citizens from other member states has never been as easy as it could and arguably should have been.

One of the only advantages EU citizens have had is that the EU ID card has been an acceptable proof of ID in recent years, but at Arro Money we don’t even need to see that in most cases.

Benefits of a UK account for EU citizens

The effects of Brexit will be felt for many years to come and the direct relationship between the UK and EU, including individual member states, is likely to change over time too, but as near neighbours there will still be plenty of travel between the continent and the British Isles.

As the UK never joined the euro, there should be little effect in terms of the different currencies either, meaning all of the benefits of a UK account for EU citizens should continue to apply.

This includes the ease of transferring money into a UK account from Europe – which we’ll look at below – not to mention avoiding foreign exchange fees on any money you earn in the UK, and on any scholarships, sponsorships or bursaries paid to you by UK institutions.

Bank transfers from the EU to UK

International bank transfers within the EU have been streamlined in recent years using BIC codes and IBAN numbers – international versions of your sort code and account number that can be used to uniquely identify your account among all mainstream bank accounts in the world.

There is no reason why Brexit should stop this either, as non-EU countries also use BIC codes (also known as SWIFT codes) to send transferred funds to the correct financial organisation in the correct country, and IBAN numbers to deposit the funds directly into the right account.

During the years to come, this should mean little to no significant change in the way bank transfers from the EU to UK are handled – meaning if you are living here in the years following Brexit and any subsequent transition period, you should still be able to receive money from friends, family and any sponsorship back home.

Instant UK account from EU countries

If you are travelling to the UK from an EU country, there are a few ways to get a UK-based account. You may be able to arrange to open an account in advance with one of the big multinational banking groups if it has branches in both your home country and the UK.

Alternatively, if your preferred bank does not have branches in your country, you may be able to begin the application process up to 30 days before you travel, but you will still have to complete it on arrival and there’s no guarantee of how long this might take.

Finally, you could wait until you get here and then apply for an instant UK account like the Arro Personal Account. We offer guaranteed acceptance for eligible applicants, subject to our Fair Fit test and providing you are over 18, and the whole process can take just three minutes.

What you get

Apply with your name, date of birth and UK home address, plus the contact details we need to send you your account confirmation once it’s set up.

You get a UK-based account in pounds sterling (GBP), with a sort code and account number to receive transfers from the UK and abroad, an online dashboard for easy account admin, and a MasterCard® debit card for card purchases and online shopping.

We send you your login, account number and card details as soon as possible – including all the necessary debit card details via SMS so you can shop online by typing the numbers in until the physical card gets there in the post.