How non-residents can get a UK Bank Account
While it is a pretty straightforward process for a UK resident to open a business bank account here, it can be a little more complicated for a non-UK resident. Although it is not a legal requirement for you to have a separate bank account for your business, it will be wise for you to do so from a practical point of view.
Without a business account for your limited company, it will be very difficult for you to manage your finances and sort your business accounting records from your personal ones. It will also be much more difficult for you to obtain business financing for your company as you may not be taken very seriously without a proper business account. A business will have much more credibility in the eyes of financial institutions if they are seen to be running professionally with a dedicated business bank account.
As a non-UK resident you may be eligible for a business bank account from some of the major UK banks: Barclays International or Lloyds Bank for example. The second option you could try is to open a bank account overseas by legalising your company formation documents.
It is routine for banks to perform credit checks on all applicants wishing to open a business bank account. This is done to verify the applicants suitability. Checks will include providing them with photographic ID and proof of a UK address, both of which must be submitted in person at the bank you are applying to. With Lloyds Bank, you may be allowed to open an account for your business if at least one of the account signatories resides in the UK. With Barclays International, it may be possible for you to open an account if you can provide an initial security deposit along with your application.
If you are yet to incorporate your business, then you may be able to take advantage of our Barclays Business Banking service available to our registered clients. Please contact us for more information.
Here are some details for the requirements to open a business bank account in the UK:
An account with Lloyds would be suitable for a limited company with at least one UK-resident signatory. Applications can be made online or by telephone. The UK based director will be asked to present photographic ID and proof-of-address documentation in person at a Lloyds bank branch. Overseas company owners and account signatories must send copies of their photographic ID and proof-of-address documents to the same Lloyds branch. The documents will have to be legally certified before presentation by a banking official, notary, solicitor or government body.
Remember to take copies of your paperwork. Do not post your original documents just in case they get lost in transit. Get your copies legalised and post those instead.
HSBC Business Banking
An HSBC account may be suitable for UK registered limited companies with all non-UK resident shareholders and directors. To meet with the requirements of the bank, the shareholders of the company must travel to the UK to meet with an HSBC representative at a HSBC bank branch.
Barclays offer accounts that are suitable for companies with no UK-resident directors or shareholders. To apply you must go through Barclays International that is based in the Isle of Man. Usually, you will be asked for a security deposit of £10,000 for the first month after account activation. Your account will be classes as being offshore. However, your account will be based in London and you will be able to access the same facilities as any other type of bank account, such as credit cards, debit cards, cheque books, online banking and telephone banking.
Your Local Bank
Check to see if your local bank has a presence in London. If this is the case then if you go through them you may be able to get an account opened at their UK branch.
An International Bank with a Branch close to you
An international bank will likely have a branch in operation in the UK. Check with them to see about setting up an account with their UK branch.
Online Merchant Accounts
There are companies who offer merchant account facilities and a type of basic banking and even MasterCard, but they are not registered banks so banking regulations do not apply to them. Some examples are Paypal.com, Skrill.com, and Cashflows.com. They also charge much higher fees than regular banks, so you may find banks to be more cost-effective in the long run.
If you have a registered company in the UK, but you want to open a business bank account in your country of residence, you can obtain an Apostille for your Certificate of Incorporation and the Memorandum and Articles of Association. These corporate certificates will be required by overseas banks and authorities as evidence of the legal existence of your UK company.
It is quite straightforward to get your documents legalised by a Notary by going to a qualified lawyer specialising in Notarial Practice. They will sign your company documents and liaise with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to obtain the Apostille Certificates. You can also apply online through the Legislation Office.