Bank Accounts in the UK

Planning a move to another country is difficult and often stressful, and it can be hard to know where to begin. As well as having to make difficult decisions regarding where to live and which possessions to take with you, you will also need to prepare yourself emotionally for saying goodbye to your friends and family, and for adjusting to an unfamiliar culture. Other preparations might include taking a language course and organising necessary documents, including insurance certificates, details of your previous employment history, and if you are a student, confirmation of your student status from your university.

In addition to all these considerations, one of the first things you may wish, or need, to do upon arrival in the UK is open a bank account. A bank account is the easiest and most common way of managing your finances whilst in the UK.

Although there are alternatives to dealing with banks, such as storing your money in a 'safe' place, there are some occasions when not having a bank account can be very restrictive. For example, if you are coming to the UK to work, you will almost always need a bank account into which your wages can be paid. Likewise if you are a student, some universities will require that you have a bank account from which your tuition fees will be paid. It is also recommended that you have a bank account from which to pay your rent and any utility bills.

There are many banks in the UK where you can open an account, assuming that you are able to provide the necessary documentation. Your colleagues at work, fellow students or friends and family may be able to recommend a suitable banking institute. If not, banks and building societies can be found on any main high street in cities and towns; many banks also have branches on university campuses, and their own websites.

In many cases it is possible to continue to use your existing account in your home country if you wish to make transactions, but you could face expensive transaction fees, as well as an exchange charge for converting your home currency into pounds sterling (£). If you are planning to stay in the UK for several months, this can prove very expensive. For this reason it is usually cheaper and more convenient to open a UK bank account.


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