Obtaining your first bank account
For someone living in the UK, they will need to have a bank account for all administrative and economic purposes since most commercial and employment payments are made via bank transfers.
The banking system in the UK can be different and more complicated to what you are used to, especially due to the requirements they ask for.
To open a UK bank account, currently you will need to meet the requirement of being legally in the UK.
You will need to prove your identity and your address. This applies both in branch and online banks.
For EU nationals, proving your identity is simple. You just need your passport, driving license or identity card. You will also have to prove your address by providing another document. Every bank has its own list of what documents are acceptable as proof of address, including:
- a tenancy agreement or mortgage statement;
- a recent electricity or gas bill (less than 3 months old);
- or a current council tax bill.
Of course, if you are new in the UK, you probably do not have any of the documents mentioned above. In this case, many banks will also accept a letter from Jobcentre Plus confirming your National Insurance number or even a letter from your employer, if it is less than three months old. If you are in the UK
to study, many banks will accept a letter from your University’s admissions office confirming your address. If you are having difficulty opening a bank account, try different banks as they all have different policies.
Currently there are many online banks that make it easier to open an account. These can be accepted by government departments but not in all circumstances.
These are official entities and can facilitate the start of your working and economic life in the UK. They do not have any physical branches however, and entirely operate online.
Note: However, currently some companies do not recognise online bank accounts. It is always best to inform the company with which you are about to work with that you hold an online bank account to confirm it is accepted. This includes government departments to receive benefits.