If you are planning on living in the UK or if you already live here, you’ll need to open a bank account to be able to receive your wages. Most employers will transfer wages directly to your account. If you are new to the UK it can be a little complicated to open one if you don’t have an official proof of address, but it is still possible. See what alternative options you can use, if necessary.
Cashing your pay cheque in
If you have the right to work in the UK, you can start working without having a bank account; in some cases your employer will make payments to you in cash. In most cases you will be given cheque. You can convert cheques into cash at Cheque Cashing Service shops where around 12% commission will be taken off. Cashing a cheque in takes about 1-5 days. Well-Known Cheque Cashing Service shops in London: Cash Converter (www.cashconverters.co.uk).
Opening a bank account in the UK
Well-known High street Banks in England include: Barclays, LLoyds, TSB, Santander, Natwest, Nationwide, HSBC, Halifax, Metro, RBS.
To open a bank account in London, most banks require you to complete an online application first and book an appointment with them.
Documents you need to open a bank account in the UK:
- Passport or European ID Card
- Proof of address, officially accepted documents include water, recent gas or electricity bill (less than 3 months old), Council tax bill or British driving license as it has your address on it. Further information on how to exchange or obtain a British Driving License, read more here.
- If you have come to the UK to study at University, most banks will accept a letter from your University’s admissions office as proof of address.
If you do not have an official proof of address, some banks accept the following, but none of them is guaranteed:
- Letter from Jobcentre plus that confirms your NI number. Try TSB Bank.
- Letter of your Electoral Register. British, Commonwealth and EU citizens residing in the UK are obliged to register to vote – Electoral Register.
- Rental contract with a reputable letting or estate agency.
- Letter from HMRC e.g.: When you start working you may receive a letter about your tax code – PAYE Coding Notice from the Tax Office. If you haven’t received one, call HMRC tax office on 0300 200 3300 or 0135 535 9022.
- NHS card – National Health Service card. To obtain one, you are required to register with your local family doctor – GP. For more information, see our Health section’s articles.
- Induction letter by your employer.
- Passport and European Identity Card or European driving licence.
- Personal reference, if you’ve known someone for more than 3 years, that person can prove your address, if he or she has been banking with the same bank for a while. You must both go into your friend’s bank personally.
- Your foreign bank account or credit card recent statement, not older than 3 months.
- Your foreign bank account or credit card statement with your UK address on it. It should be changed at your bank.
Honestly, it depends on the mood of the customer service staff if he or she would open a bank account for you without having an officially accepted proof of address. Try your luck bank by bank, you will succeed. Banks in Central London have more flexible attitudes.
To open an online account you only need a passport or European ID card or Driving license. Opening one is free, takes about 1 to 5 days. Open your account here at Wise. You will receive an account number and a sort code that can be used for receiving your wages or any payments in the UK.
You can also ask for a Hello World MasterCard debit card with your account, that you will able to use the same way as any bank card, for example you can withdraw cash from any cashpoint/ATM or make a card, contactless, in-store or online payment. The card costs a one-off payment of £5/€6.
You can also add multiple foreign currency to your card, e.g. Euro, US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollar, New Zealand Dollar, South African Rand, Nigerian Naira, Kenyan Shilling, etc. With the card, it can be used in the country of the currency in the same way as in the UK.
Wise debit card charges within the UK and the European Union:
- The card £5/€6.
- No fees for card payments
- Cash withdrawal from ATM cashpoint, up to £200 is free of charge twice in every month (within 30 days), thereafter £0.5 per withdrawal.
- Cash withdrawals from ATM cashpoint, over £200 per month the fee is 1.75%
- Conversion fee is 0.4 – 5%
Prepaid card and account
As a cheaper alternative to redeeming a cheque, a prepaid card can be used to receive wages or make any payment.
Well-known prepaid card companies are www.pockit.com, www.monzo.com, www.monese.com. Free account opening, affordable fees: free – £0.99. You will get an account number and a sort code. This can be used for receiving your wages, and you also get a master card which can be used for cash withdrawal or in- store and online purchases.