UK Life

Opening a UK bank account

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An article written to provide you with information on how to open a bank account in the UK.


What to consider before you open a bank account

Before you open a bank account, you need to determine which type of account is right for your needs. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What do you need the bank account for?
  • Does the account pay interest?
  • Do you need access to an overdraft?
  • Are you willing to pay for additional features and benefits?
  • Are you looking for a joint account?

The different types of accounts available

The majority of doctors relocating to the UK will usually apply for either a current account, joint account or packaged account. Information about these accounts, and others that are available, can be found below:

Standard Current Accounts: These are the normal current accounts with all the standard features 

Joint Bank Accounts: A joint bank account is an account that you can share with your partner, housemates, or family. If you are looking to open a joint account, the bank will require you to provide their information, proof of identity and proof of address (just like opening a standard account as described previously above). All the account holders will be able to make transactions, have a bank card, and pay money in.

Packaged Current Accounts: These are current accounts with additional benefits and features. A monthly fee usually applies for packaged current accounts. 

ISAs: ISA stands for Individual Savings Account. The main difference between an ISA and standard savings accounts is that ISA’s offer tax-free interest payments, so you could get more for your money.

Basic Bank Accounts: These accounts offer a place for you to store your money and pay bills from. They are primarily designed for people with low credit scores and do not come with overdrafts.

Savings Accounts: These are accounts to simply store your money in and earn interest.

Student Accounts: These are accounts designed exclusively for university students. They are based on the standard accounts however, students are treated to benefits such as interest-free overdrafts.

Graduate Accounts: The purpose of these accounts is to give graduates a few years to pay off what they owe before it starts gaining interest 

International Accounts: These accounts enable people who work and/or live abroad to access their money from other countries.


Choosing who to bank with

Does the bank have a good reputation?

Reputation matters. Before committing to a bank, you should research how real customers have rated their experiences. Which? survey thousands of current account customers each year and ask them to rate the service they receive. You can see their findings here.

Are they accessible?

  • When choosing who to bank with, it’s important to check how accessible they are; not every bank will have a branch based near to you and some, although few, do not offer internet banking. 
  • Do they offer telephone, internet, and/or mobile banking?
  • Branch service: If you prefer to go into a branch, you will want to choose a bank that you can easily get to.
  • Cashpoint access: If you need cash, do they have ATM’s available for you to access, free of charge? 

What are their fees, charges, and overdraft costs?

Fees can vary between banks and the different accounts, so you should be clear on what each banks charges and costs are before applying for an account with them. For example, one of the highest fees people encounter is for going over their agreed overdraft limit. If you regularly spend more than you have in your account, you may want to choose a bank that gives you an overdraft up to an agreed limit without charging fees. 

Interest rates on credit balances

Check that interest rates are offered on the account that you need and, if so, compare the interest rates on offer between other banks. 

Do they offer any incentives?

Most banks offer deals to attract new customers. These may include a cash incentive, a higher interest rate for a period or a monthly credit.

Support

You want to have a bank that is easily contactable if needed. Be sure to research how easy is it to get in touch with them, and whether they offer phone, email, and social media support!


The process of opening a UK bank account

Once you’ve decided on who you would like to bank with, you will need to apply to open an account with them. 

With most banks, you can apply to do this in person, by visiting the branch, by calling them or by applying via their website. 

In your application, you’ll be asked to verify who you are and where you live. You’ll also need to provide the bank with:

  • Personal details – such as your name, date of birth, contact information, nationality, and NI Number. 
  • Proof of identity – such as your passport or driving licence.
  • Proof of address – such as a tenancy agreement, a council tax bill, or a recent utility bill. Note that some banks may require you to evidence how long you’ve lived at that address. 
  • Your national insurance number – This should be detailed on your BRP card.

Depending the type of account that you are applying to open, and the bank that you have chosen, the bank may run a credit check. 

Your application will then be reviewed and you’ll be notified on the outcome. If accepted, the bank will post your card and pin number to you.

You’ll need to activate your card once received. You should be able to do this online, by phone, or by visiting a branch directly. 


Popular UK banks


If you’re interested in working in the UK and would like to discuss the positions available in your specialty, and how we can assist you, please contact our team.