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How can I open a bank account?

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Before leaving home:

  • Speak to your bank in your home country before you leave. Ask if your home country bank has a special relationship with a bank in the UK.
  • Find out if you can use a cash card from your home country bank in UK bank machines.
  • Ask their advice about operating a bank account in the UK.
  • Find out what methods of transferring money are available, including the security of each method and the costs involved.
  • In the UK banks are required by law to know the identities of their customers. Because of this, banks require new customers to provide documents to verify their identity.


What documents will I need to open an account?
Banks know that because you are new to this country you may not have access to documents such as household bills or a UK driving licence, but there are other documents banks may accept for the purpose of confirming your identity and address. These include:

  • Passport
  • National identity card
  • Residence permit issued by the Home Office to EU nationals
  • National driving licence.

Proving your address in the UK may be more difficult but the following documents may be acceptable:

  • Tenancy agreement
  • A letter from your employer in the UK confirming your address (and if you have pay slips from your employer it may help to show these)
  • The bank may also want to see proof of your previous or permanent address in the country you have come from. Your national identity card or driving licence may be acceptable.


Please note: Banks' requirements vary; it is not possible to be definitive about what documents they will accept. The best approach is to take as much information with you as you can. Remember that banks will normally only accept original documents rather than photocopies.