Looking to get a UK bank account but not a UK resident? Not to worry! Thanks to fin-tech there are tons of options to get a bank account in multiple currencies, no matter where you are. Here’s how to get a UK bank account set up from anywhere in the world in a few simple steps — from a 7 year expat.
Whether you’re planning on being in the UK for a short few months or simply don’t want to deal with currency conversions when you’re visiting across the pond, having a UK bank account makes dealing with day-to-day expenses super easy.
Not to mention avoiding the crazy currency exchange fees you’ll get at the airport.
Lucky for you, there’s now several quick and easy ways to get a UK bank account without being a UK resident.
How to Set Up a UK Bank Account From Abroad
Can You Open a UK Bank Account from Abroad?
If you’ve ever tried to open a UK bank account from abroad, you may have noticed there was one thing they asked for that you definitely didn’t have…a UK address.
But then came borderless bank accounts…
What Are Borderless Bank Accounts?
With the world becoming more global by the day, borderless bank accounts (or international banking services) were designed to help people manage their finances in multiple currencies and countries.
These accounts can be opened from any country, making them ideal for those who travel a lot, work internationally or have family living abroad.
With these accounts, you can hold multiple currencies under one bank account at once. Making it perfect for sending money to friends and family worldwide, paying bills abroad, or having instant access to the currency of the country you’re in at the time (like the UK!).
How to Open a UK Bank Account From Abroad (in 4 simple steps)
First off, a complete disclosure that no part of this is sponsored. But as someone who’s used their borderless bank for years as a US expat in the UK, my #1 recommendation for a borderless bank account would be Wise. Plus, it’s completely free to use!
It’s an online account that lets you spend, pay and transfer money in over 50 currencies.
Unlike most banks and icky airport currency exchange booths, they don’t mark up exchange rates — meaning you’ll get the same mid-market exchange that you would find on Google etc.
To set it up, you’ll just need to:
- Download the Wise app or go to Wise.com on your desktop
- Get verified — this usually includes some form of government ID and proof of address (but again, even if you’re based in the US, Canada, Australia etc. you’ll still be able to open a UK account)
- Wait around 2 working days to get verified
- Get your Wise account! There’ll be a few admin bits to set up once you’re logged in, but other than that you’re good to go!
Once you have your UK bank account, you’ll have instant access to GBP and can switch over your home country’s currency easily.
So, for example, if you’re coming from the US to the UK, you could transfer the amount you want to use for the trip to your UK bank account and pay in pounds while you’re here instead of dealing with exchanging currency for every transaction.
You’ll also get an international Wise debit card you can use anywhere in the world that accepts Visa.
How to Set Up a UK Bank Account If You’re Moving to London
If you’re moving to London for the long term, then I suggest getting a Wise account to easily transfer money from your home currency to GBP alongside getting set up with a traditional bank and at least one digital or ‘non-traditional’ bank like Monzo or Revolut.
Setting up a traditional bank in the UK:
To set up a traditional bank in the UK, you’ll need to visit your bank branch in person or apply for an account online along with your proof of residence (such as your visa or right to stay in the UK), proof of address, and a government-issued ID.
The top traditional banks in the UK are:
Setting up a digital bank in the UK:
To set up a digital bank account in the UK, all you’ll need is your proof of address and government ID.
Final Thoughts on Getting a UK Bank Account From Anywhere
I hope this guide helped you get one step closer to setting up a UK bank account from abroad.
If you have more questions about getting a UK bank account from anywhere, let me know in the comments or at @candaceabroad, and don’t forget to read up on my London Travel Tips or Moving to London tips before you go!