Opening a UK bank account from Australia
Find out how to open a bank account in the United Kingdom, whether you have a UK address or not.
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Preparing for a move to the UK? Opening a bank account is a key part of this, but can feel difficult as a foreigner. We go through what your options are, what it's like to open an international bank account at the four major banks (Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland) and some alternatives to consider.
What are my options for opening an account?
You'll need to have proof of your UK address, which can be difficult if you haven't moved or haven't received any utility bills there yet.
These accounts are specifically for those without a UK address yet. They require a large deposit.
You can use a multi-currency account if you don't have a UK address and can use it for currencies beyond just AUD and GBP.
1. Setting up a bank account if you have a UK address
If you've already got a place to live in the UK, you'll need to show two lots of proof – one document to prove your identity and the other to prove your address. You'll need to check with the bank you choose, but some examples of the documents you'll need include:
Proof of identity
- Driver's licence
- Government-issued identity card
Proof of address
- Electricity or gas bill
- Bank or credit card statement
- Mortgage statement or rent agreement
- Payslip from your employer
However, it can be hard to get these documents if you're newly arrived in the UK or haven't left Australia yet. Never fear, there are other options.
2. Setting up an international bank account
If you don't have a UK address, you still have options. Most of the major banks in the UK will let you set up an international account, but it's not for everyone. You'll need to have quite a large deposit and some contracts lock you in for a certain amount of time.
We'll go through how to set up this account for the four major banks in the UK if you're still in Australia.
Barclays will let you open an international bank account, but the requirements are fairly restrictive. You'll need:
- Deposit of £100,000 or equivalent within the first 3 months of opening.
- Annual income of $250,000 or assets worth $2.5 million.
- Letter from a qualified accountant verifying the income or assets.
For international students, it's a lot easier. You can set up an account without needing any initial deposit and you'll be able to confirm your UK address later on, if you don't have it yet.
To be able to get an international account with Lloyds, the requirements are:
- Income of £50,000 or equivalent. If it's a joint account, it's okay if only one of your incomes is that much.
- Or have £25,000 (or equivalent) to add to the account.
- Be able to make the first deposit within 30 days of opening the account.
While Lloyds does have specific bank accounts for international students, you'll need to already be living in the UK to take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, to open a UK bank account with HSBC, you'll need to go to a branch in the UK. You won't be able to complete the process online.
Another option is to set up a multi-currency account with HSBC in Australia. We'll go into multi-currency accounts more below, but HSBC's version is called the Everyday Global Account.
Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest
You'll be able to open an international account with NatWest from Australia, but the requirements are still very high. To be eligible, you'll need:
- Minimum balance of £25,000 at all times
- Or an income of £75,000 or more paid directly into the account.
Another option you can look into is a digital bank, also known as a challenger bank. A lot of these allow you to set up a bank account with them if you can give them a copy of your passport and a UK address, with no need for proof that the address is yours. You can read more about digital banks on the Finder UK website, which will let you compare some of the latest ones.
3. Multi-currency accounts
Multi-currency accounts, also known as foreign currency accounts, let you hold several different currencies in the one account. They're mostly used for sending and receiving funds in foreign currencies. So if you're moving to the UK but still have transactions you need to make in Australian dollars, this could be an option for you.
Quite a few of the global banks offer multi-currency accounts, which you can check out in the table below. Another option is TransferWise's Borderless Account, which gives you UK bank details, as well as US, EU and Australian ones.
How to transfer your money to your new UK bank account
Your Australian bank can help you transfer your funds to the UK, but it won't be the most cost-effective option. Banks not only charge higher fees, but also add a larger margin to the exchange rate than other money transfer options. Instead, check out what your transfer could look like with one of these other money transfer services below.
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