Why is it so hard to get a bank account for ex-pat returning to UK?

The UK banks have some fairly strict rules about proof of address, and as an ex-pat returning to the UK, you might not yet have proof of your long-term address in the UK.

It’s not unreasonable for the banks to want to prevent fraud – and if you’re applying to try and open an ex-pat bank account in the UK while you are still living abroad, then you represent more risk than if you apply when you already arrived back into the UK.

But either way, unless you have managed to get proof of your UK address in advance or very soon after moving back home, you could find your access to bank accounts is quite limited.

What ex-pat accounts might I be able to get?

You will probably be able to find a basic bank account that you can open either before you travel back home to the UK, or as soon as you get here with little to no proof of your UK address.

This typically will not have an overdraft, will give you access to basic methods of transferring funds, and may also include a cash card – this could be a full debit card, or it might be limited to ATM withdrawals only from the relevant bank’s cash machines, or in some cases you might not get a card at all.

It’s unfortunate but unless you have proof of address in the UK, the reality is that you will probably find your options limited only to these kinds of accounts, which many of the high street banks run as a kind of default alternative to their ‘better’ current accounts.

How might I be asked to apply?

Although a basic bank account might not be the most desirable option, you could also find you have to complete some fairly demanding application processes just to get one.

In some cases you might be asked to physically post your ID from your host country to the UK, so that the bank can see the original documents before mailing them back to you in your host country – all for an account you won’t use until you are back in the UK anyway.

You might be able to apply in advance of travelling to the UK, but some of the banks will still require you to attend an interview in person, so effectively, applying ahead of time does little more than schedule you an appointment with an advisor.

And if you are an ex-pat who has been living outside of the EU, it can be even harder – or even impossible – to line anything up before travelling to the UK. Some basic bank accounts can only accept transfers in pounds sterling, too, so your bank account in your host country might not be able to send your funds to your new UK account.

It all adds up to a very complicated system that is not on your side at all – and some of the banks only offer a basic bank account at all because they are legally required to, so that nobody is completely shut out of getting an account in their own name.

An alternative account for returning ex-pats

The Arro Personal Account is an alternative solution for returning ex-pats who need a new account, based in the UK with a balance in pounds sterling, and capable of carrying out the common methods of moving and managing money.

With an Arro Personal Account you get an online-only account with a dashboard that is easy to use and was purpose-built for the job – this is our flagship account for personal customers, not a ‘lowest common denominator’ solution like the basic bank accounts you see on the high street.

Best of all, you don’t need any proof of address in order to qualify. You must be living in the UK at the time you apply, but we don’t mind how long you have been here – or how short of a time you have been here, more to the point.

Just tell us your name, date of birth to confirm you are over 18, your current UK address and the contact details where you want us to send your account number once it is approved.

We have a simple Fair Fit test to make sure you’re suitable for the account, and a quick online check of your ID, but there’s no credit check, no paperwork to send to us, and we guarantee to accept your application if you’re eligible – all in a matter of minutes.