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How to open a UK bank account from Australia

If you want to open a UK bank account to hold GBP, here's how.

If you're planning a big move to the UK, either temporarily or permanently, it makes sense to have a UK bank account to help manage your finances when you arrive. The good news is that Australians can open UK bank accounts before arriving in the UK. However, you might not be able to find the right account at a major bank, so you may need to consider other online options to find the best UK bank account for foreigners.

Keep reading to find out what you need to do to open a UK bank account from Australia.

Process of opening a bank account in the UK

As you'd expect, opening a UK bank account is a much simpler process if you're a UK resident. This will make you eligible for a much wider range of accounts, and you'll be able to provide the proof of UK residential address that many banks require to open an account.

But there are other options available for non-UK residents. One alternative is to use a major UK bank that has a global presence and offers international or expat accounts, for example Barclays or HSBC. However, these accounts often have high minimum balance requirements and ongoing monthly fees, so they're not ideal for everyone.

Another option is to use an online multi-currency account such as those offered by providers like Wise and Revolut. These accounts are easy to open online, and you often won't need to provide proof of a UK address. And because they let you hold a wide range of currencies, they're a flexible alternative if you're a regular traveller or need to send money overseas.

Documents needed to open a bank account

The documents you'll need to provide may vary depending on the bank you choose and whether or not you're a UK resident. However, you may be asked to provide the following:

  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of UK residential address
  • Your name and date of birth
  • Your contact details

But if you don't have a UK residential address, a bank may recommend that you apply through their global banking division.

Best account in the UK for foreigners

The best bank account in the UK for non-residents depends on your personal needs, financial situation and eligibility. Some are offered by online providers, while others are expat accounts offered by major global banks. Let's take a look at a few popular options to help you find the account that's right for you.

Revolut

Revolut is a non-bank provider that offers personal multi-currency accounts. You don't need to provide proof of a UK address to open an account — your Australian address will do — and you can send and receive transfers in over 25 currencies.

You can open a Standard Revolut account for free. But if you want to exchange more than $2,000 a month, and access perks and higher limits on other transactions, you'll need to upgrade to a

Wise

A Wise Multi-currency Account lets you hold 40 currencies in one account. It also gives you local bank account details in 10 countries around the world, including Australia and the UK, which means you can receive payments in GBP and convert them to other currencies as needed.

You can sign up for an account as an Australian resident, and there's no monthly fee to worry about. The account comes with a linked Wise card that you can use to make purchases around the world, and Wise also offers the mid-market exchange rate when you want to send money overseas.

HSBC Expat Bank Account

HSBC's Expat Bank Account is a multi-currency account that lets you hold funds in GBP, EUR or USD. Your account is held in Jersey, Channel Islands, and makes it easy to send and receive payments when you're abroad.

HSBC Expat members can also access a Global Money Account. This account lets you send international transfers in 59 currencies and hold funds in 19 currencies, and it comes at no extra cost to you. It also comes with a physical and digital card you can use to make purchases in-store and online.

However, you'll need to be at least 18 years old and satisfy one of the following requirements to open a HSBC Expat Bank Account:

  • Hold at least £50,000 with HSBC Expat within 3 months of opening your account, or
  • Earn a salary of at least £100,000, or
  • Already be an HSBC Premier customer in another country.

Barclays International Bank Account

The Barclays International Bank Account is available to residents of over 70 countries, including Australia. The account lets you hold funds in either GBP, EUR or USD, and it's easy to open an account online before you arrive in the UK. You also get a debit card to use in the UK and around the world, and Barclays supports international money transfers in up to 60 currencies.

However, you'll need to deposit at least £100,000 with Barclays to open an account. You'll also need to provide proof of address, proof of ID and details of your employment, income and tax residency details. Barclays says it takes 30-45 minutes to complete an application.

Tips for sending money to a UK bank account

If you need to send money to the UK, the following tips will help you save money, time and stress on your international transfer.

  • Check the exchange rate markup. The AUD/GBP exchange rate you get for your transaction most likely won't be the same as the "real" (or mid-market) exchange rate. Banks and money transfer companies typically make money by adding an extra margin to the mid-market exchange rate — this is known as the exchange rate markup, and the size of the markup will have a big impact on the cost of your transfer.
  • Use a specialist transfer service. While sending an international transfer from your bank is the most convenient option, it's often also the most expensive. You'll find better exchange rates and low or no fees with specialist money transfer companies, so compare money transfer providers to find the best value.
  • Take advantage of advanced transfer tools. Some money transfer services offer special tools to help you get a better exchange rate for your transfer. These include forward contracts, which allow you to lock in an exchange rate today for a transfer that will be sent up to 12-24 months in the future, and limit orders, that ensure that your transfer is automatically sent when the exchange rate you want becomes available.
  • Watch out for transfer fees. Some companies charge a flat fee on every transaction, while others calculate their fee as a percentage of your transfer amount. But some money transfer companies will waive their fees on large transfers or simply won't charge any transaction fees, so check the fine print to make sure you know the full cost of your transaction.
  • Get your money there quickly. If you need to send an urgent transfer to the UK, consider using a company that offers cash pickup transfers. Depending on the payment method you select, the cash could be ready for your UK recipient to collect within minutes. To find out more, check out our guide to the fastest international money transfers.

Compare money transfer providers that send money to the UK

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Revolut
Within minutes
$0
Send money with great rates and low fees in 30+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%
50% off first transaction fee from any country in APAC (outside India).
Minimum transfer of $250 and max transfer of $500,000
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
SingX
Within minutes
From 0.5%
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
€3
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $1.99
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
Send Payments
24 hours
$0
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Qantas Business Money
Within minutes
$0
Limited time offer: Earn up to 125,000 bonus Qantas Points as a first-time converter. Ends 30 April 2024. Conversion limits and T&Cs apply.
Set up accounts in 11 different currencies and get rewarded for global business payments by earning Qantas Points.
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
Streamline global payments in 60+ currencies. Send & receive securely in 150+ countries, with fast settlements & competitive rates. Simplify book-keeping & manage everything in one place.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
OFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
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Finder survey: What do Australians think is the cheapest way to transfer money overseas?

Response
I do not send money overseas41.71%
Bank transfer30.18%
International money transfer19.55%
Mobile wallet5.41%
Cash pickup1.98%
Money order1.17%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

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