• kristenevelyn

Opening up a bank account

I'm sorry to say it can be a bit of nightmare!


The UK has a variety of banks, all with slightly different benefits and rates.

The Major banks include:

  • Barclays

  • Halifax

  • HSBC

  • Lloyds

  • NatWest

  • Santander

  • TSB

In certain cities there are several other banks including the Bank of India, Punjabi National Bank, Bank of China, and United Bank (Islamic bank).

What to look our for:

  • If you already have a UK bank account (most likely you will not), some competing banks will pay you a small lump sum to switch to them

  • Overdraft limits and fees An overdraft "occurs when money withdrawn goes beyond the available bank balance. In this situation, the account is said to be "overdrawn". Some banks give you a little leeway ("protection") when it comes to this, but it is best to know the limit and how much the fee will be if it goes beyond the limit.

  • If you have a strong bank balance, it may be best to open an account with the bank that offers the best interest rate

  • If you are a student most banks have special accounts with nice perks for students

  • Membership benefits (discounts on restaurants, magazine subscriptions, or tickets)

If you need an appointment! When I went into Barclays they told me I would have to wait 2 weeks to open an account as that was when they had the next available appointment. Many of my fellow student friends also had this issue. For some it took weeks to open a bank account and hours of waiting on lines. Be prepared for this.


The banks are quite particular about the documents you must submit to open an account.

It is best to wait until you have picked up your BRP before approaching the bank as they will not entertain you without it.

Required documents for all branches:

  • BRP (physical. no copies or letters allowed)

  • Passport (original, not copy)

  • Proof of address -This cannot be ordinary mail such as a letter.

  • Acceptable documents:

  • Original utility bill in your name

  • Original council tax bill. Your name must be the main person on the bill, on the left-hand side, just above the address.

If you are on the council tax bill, but on the right-hand side as "occupant", this will not be accepted. You can contact your local council and have it switched.

Afterward, you can always have it changed back.