What paperwork is needed to open a bank account in the UK?

If you are new to the UK, either as a permanent resident, a seasonal worker or an international student (or even just for an extended visit) you might reasonably want to open a bank account in the UK so you can manage your finances in pounds sterling while you are here.

As with any bank account application, there are certain things you will be expected to prove, and this mainly comes down to two things:

  • Your identity.
  • Your address.

However, the list of different documents that can be used to do this is long, and some international accounts available in the UK may also insist on you meeting extra criteria in relation to your employment status, annual income or total savings.

The basics

To start with the easy part, proving your identity just needs a form of ID that is widely recognised, such as your passport, driving licence or EU ID card.

Proving your address can be more difficult if you have only just arrived in the UK, and you may be able to use any of the following:

  • A recent bank statement sent to your UK address (not printed from online banking).
  • A tenancy agreement or mortgage statement in your name.
  • A recent utility bill that shows your name and UK address.
  • A council tax bill in your name, for your current address.

Students may be able to use a letter from their college or university, while international workers may be able to use a letter from your UK employer or from the UK Jobcentre Plus service.

On some websites it even advises changing the address on your bank account back home to match your UK address, and then requesting a paper statement to be sent to you at that address through the post.

The obstacles

Not all banks have the same rules when you want to open a bank account as a new arrival in the UK, and it can depend on whether the bank belongs to an international parent company with banks in your own country.

For those banks, if you are lucky enough to already have an account with the right parent company back home, it may be possible to open a UK account in advance, although you may have to agree to transfer your account balance from your home account over to the relevant UK bank.

For others, you are unlikely to be able to open a bank account before arriving in the UK. While some might help you to get an account more quickly if you give them 30 days’ notice of your travel date, in many cases you will have to start your application from the beginning when you get to the UK.

There are other limits, too. Some banks ask you to deposit at least £25,000 into your account when it is opened, and others may expect you to deposit an annual income of over £50,000 – it all depends on exactly which account you decide to open.

The alternative

An Arro Personal Account is an alternative if you want a faster, easier route to a UK sort code and account number with a balance in pounds sterling, a MasterCard® debit card you can use at UK ATMs and in shops, and access to common UK financial services like Faster Payments and Direct Debit (this feature is coming soon!).

While Arro is not a bank, your Arro Personal Account combines many of the features of a bank account with easy online access from desktop and mobile devices, and a money management dashboard built for the job.

Best of all, we offer guaranteed approval for all eligible applicants – so if you are over 18 and have a UK address, even if you are new to the UK, we should be able to give you an account.

No proof of address?

Don’t worry. We don’t ask you to provide us with paperwork to prove your address – we are able to check it against online databases for applicants from 160 countries and will only reject your application if we are unable to verify your identity.

In most cases we can approve applications from people who are new to the UK even without any documents showing your UK address.

There is no fee for applying and it will not leave a mark on your credit record, as we do not carry out a credit check at all – so even if we cannot offer you an account, you will get an answer in around three minutes, at no cost.