Yes, you CAN open a Bank Account for Free!
Don't pay an agency to sort out tax and a bank account! Do it yourself it's easy once you know!
Opening your own bank account in the UK has the potential of being a massive headache, if you don't know what to expect or how it works.
If you think you can just turn up with your passport and open an account, then I have some bad news for you. Even British citizens have to pass a certain set of criteria. The reasons for this firm stance are primarily for the prevention of fraud as follows:
As well as that:
Don't become a victim of identity theft, fraud and scams if something doesn't 'feel' right something might be wrong. Click here to visit the City of London Police website for more info on scams.
-note- You're probably more than aware of 'social networking sites' like Facebook, and MySpace. You've also probably heard about fraudsters befriending people to gain access to their personal information. Well it can and does happen. So keep access limited to friends only and be wary of how much info is on display.
Of course you could also subscribe to the idea that creating more and more hoops for us to jump through all the time is just a way to control us and keep us working as a global slave for the corporate man…if you like…
So how do I get a UK bank account then?
There are two ways to get a bank account in the UK, they are both relatively painless if you've got the right info. Although one option is free and one is not.
Option 1 – Free (perfect for live-in working holiday makers)
That should be all you need to get your UK bank account sorted. Make sure you get on your manager to get it organised as soon as you decide to stay on working.
Your bank card will be a standard chip & pin (what is this?) debit card. You may qualify in the future for lines of credit – although I strongly advise against it.
"HSBC - The World's Local Bank"
Option 2 – Cost about ₤60 (only option available for unemployed travellers)
-note- I have be informed that if you a sharing a flat with someone who has a bill in their name, you can try taking a signed letter stating your accommodation status with that person as well as the bill to the bank. I can't say whether this will work for sure but it's worth a try if you're unemployed and desperately need a bank account.
As far as I know there are only two UK banks that offer one or both of these services, and they are HSBC and Barclays bank. I took option 1 with HSBC and have had the account for 3 years now. I pay no monthly account keeping fees, plus I have internet banking enabled – a priceless function.
There are many banks in the UK. HSBC though has the bonus of being worldwide which can be a plus if you find yourself in a foreign country and need help – although they don't have offices in Estonia – I found that out after I lost my debit card in a snow drift…don't ask me how I managed that…
Again this site is for your benefit – if I discover better, easier or cheaper ways of helping you set up a bank account in the UK, they'll go up here, until that time, the only banks I can recommend so far is HSBC and Barclays.
The 'Current Account' offered from both HSBC and Barclays have no monthly fees, Debits cards are free to use in their atms across the UK, they charge between ₤1.50 - ₤4.50 for foreign atms in UK and abroad and they both come with free phone and internet banking.
Barclays has the bonus of free transactions
in Westpac branches in Oz and NZ and Scotiabank branches in Canada as
well as a handful around Europe.
I have listed the main UK banks in the drop down box below, click one to go directly to their site to check em out for yourself.
Another thing about banks.
Unless you've been living under a rock you would know that the world economy is currently going through some turbulence (to say the least) and the UK has been hit rather hard by the 'Global Financial Weakening'. In October 2008, three of the UKs biggest banks became partly nationalised and had to borrow billions of pounds from the UK taxpayers to keep them from crashing.
HSBC and Barclays are among the few that have not requested assistance from the Bank of England (as yet) another reason I would recommend them.
A few people have recently asked me about Sort Codes. Theses 6 digit numbers are used to identify the Bank, Building Society or Credit Union. These numbers are known as BSBs in Australia and NZ and BINs in Canada. I can't think of any reason to know or further understand the use of UK sort codes, but if you would like to know more you can click here for the wikipedia definition on sort codes.
Once you've got a Bank account and Tax numbers you're ready to look for work. Of course you don't need either to start working in the UK. The first pub I worked at in London paid the staff in cash, (with a payslip) however keeping over ₤1000 in an envelope stuffed under my mattress wasn't exactly ideal.
Are you ready for the ultimate UK experience working and living in a Pub in the UK? Find out about live-in pub jobs.
Wondering how to get around in the United Kingdom and Europe? Click 'next' for the full low-down on transport by road, rail and air.