Open a UK business bank account
The UK has many banks that offer business accounts to international businesses and entrepreneurs.
1. Decide which bank is right for your business
There's a large range of UK bank accounts available, with varied services and pricing structures, so you should be able to find an offer which matches your company’s needs.
A digital account from a fintech banking provider can act as a good short-term arrangement while you apply for a full account. It's usually easier and quicker to set up an account compared to a high street bank.
However, it's likely that if you want to establish your business in the UK, you'll need a full UK business bank account. This will allow your business to make and receive payments in the UK without foreign exchange fees. It will also make other processes, such as applying for funding, being audited and obtaining worker visas, much easier. But it can take longer to arrange.
You may want to check if your current bank in your home market has an international branch.
2. Contact the UK bank's central team
If you're applying for a full UK business bank account, you should contact your chosen bank’s central inward investment team. This is usually located in London.
Don’t apply through a local branch, online or a call centre. Tell the bank that you have foreign shareholders and/or directors of your business and that you need a UK business bank account, rather than an international business bank account that’s held offshore.
The bank should explain the process, list the information you'll need to provide and give a likely timescale.
3. Gather supporting information and documents
Individual bank requirements may vary, but to open a full UK business bank account you'll generally need:
- proof of a UK company registration
- proof of a UK business address
- personal details and proof of identity for all partners, directors, trustees or owners
- identification of all shareholders with over 10% of the business
- a UK business plan showing why you need a UK business bank account
You may also need:
- bank statements
- audited accounts
4. Arrange a representative for a UK meeting
The bank will need to meet at least one representative of your company in person in the UK, to sign a bank mandate to open the business bank account.
5. Apply, allowing time for checks and approval
It can take 4 weeks to 3 months for meetings to be arranged and an application to be approved, so factor this time into your business planning process.
During this time, the bank will make:
- security and identity checks
- company credit checks
- global database checks to confirm no convictions, sanctions or connections to politically exposed persons
If you have foreign investors, directors or owners, a UK based bank will usually make other checks. These will be carried out through professionals like solicitors or accountants in the directors’ country of residence.