How to open a UK bank account from overseas

If you are planning to travel to the UK for any reason – to live, work, study or all three – you might want to open a UK bank account from abroad so that it is ready for you to use when you arrive.

Unfortunately that can be difficult. To be the sole named accountholder on a UK bank account you will typically need to be in the UK already, and there are only a few exceptions to this.

For example, if you already bank with an international banking group that has branches in the UK, it might be easier to get them to prepare an account for when you arrive – but this limits your choice and it’s not always easy to find out which banks are part of the same parent group.

Some UK banks will allow you to apply before you get to the UK as long as you do so within the last 30 days before you travel here, but you might still have to complete the process when you arrive, including proving your name, address and credit status.

It depends partly on what you want from the account – and it can be easier to open a basic bank account in the UK as a foreigner – but it’s generally easier to open an account once you have arrived.

How long to open a UK bank account for a foreigner?

So if you wait until you come to the UK before applying for a bank account, how long will it take to get a bank account for a foreigner?

There’s no easy answer to that question. It can depend on the bank and even the branch – for example, branches in university towns with lots of international students might have a longer waiting list to get a meeting with an advisor.

It can also depend on having the right paperwork with you to prove your name, home address, and possibly your UK address too, along with things like your academic or employment status, your credit score, and how long you expect to stay in the UK.

But what if there were an alternative with no overdraft – so no credit check needed – no awkward questions about your personal finances or your employment, and just a quick automatic online ID check so you don’t have to hand over piles of paperwork?

Arro Personal Account – Fast and fair for foreigners

At Arro Money we have experienced what it’s like trying to get a bank account when you are new to the UK, and we wanted to offer a better experience.

The Arro Personal Account is an alternative to the high street international bank accounts. It allows you to manage your money online with a powerful purpose-built account dashboard and fast, easy filters to show all the different transactions in your account history.

It doesn’t have an overdraft or a credit card – the MasterCard® debit card you get with your account spends directly from your positive account balance – so there is no credit check at all, and your financial status does not matter.

And because we use online databases that cover 160 countries to automatically verify your ID, we don’t normally need you to prove your name, home address and UK address to us using your passport, driving licence or other documents.

How to get an Arro Personal Account

Opening an account is quick and easy once you arrive in the UK – and in most cases you can have an account open in just three minutes.

As soon as your account is approved, you get your login for the Arro Money account dashboard, and we tell you your UK sort code and account number, which people can use to send you money.

We also give you your MasterCard® debit card details by SMS text message to your mobile phone. For card payments in-person you will need the physical card, which we will send out in the post to your UK address, but in the meantime you can use this virtual debit card for online shopping.

All we need from you is a quick signup form that asks for the following:

  • Your name.
  • Your current UK address.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your contact details.

We guarantee to accept you if we can, as long as you meet our Fair Fit criteria, you’re over 18 and you have already arrived in the UK.