top of page

Non-resident finance: How to open an account in the UK

Learn more about non-resident accounts and find out how to open a UK account from abroad.

If you want to open a domestic bank account but don’t currently live in the United Kingdom, you’ll need to apply for a non-resident account. Many people, including high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), find this difficult – even if they’re planning to move to the country soon.  


If you’re wondering how to open an account in the UK, read on. In this article, we’ll explain how to open a non-resident account and explore banking alternatives, some of which may be more convenient. 


What is a non-resident account? 

A non-resident account is an account you open in a country or jurisdiction you don't live in. It’s sometimes referred to as an offshore bank account. If you’re a UK citizen permanently living abroad, you might also have to open a non-resident account. 


Why might you want to open a UK account as a non-resident? 

There are lots of reasons why you might want to open a UK account while living outside the country. Here are some of the most common: 


  • You want to invest in the UK stock market. 

  • You’re planning to move to the UK soon. 

  • You plan to study in the UK and want a local bank account to help you manage money locally. 

  • You're expecting to receive funds from people or businesses that prefer to pay you via a UK account. 

  • You need an account to deposit income from UK rental property. 

  • You’re a UK citizen living in another country but need a domestic account for personal or business purposes. 


Why is it so challenging to open a non-resident account in the UK? 

While the law doesn’t forbid UK banks from considering applications made by non-residents, many applicants are instantly rejected because they don't have UK addresses. All financial institutions must follow strict anti-money laundering regulations, and most automatically consider UK non-residents high risk. 


How do you open an account in the UK as a non-resident? 

First, find a provider that accepts applications from non-residents. A few traditional banks offer corporate accounts for non-residents, but they have restrictive entry criteria, like minimum deposits of £10,000 and minimum capital requirements.

 

Some alternative providers offer personal or business accounts to UK non-residents. These may be multi-currency accounts – and some companies, like Interpolitan Money, let you transact in more than 50 currencies. Most alternative providers are electronic money institutions (EMIs), so they’re authorised and regulated by the FCA and must follow strict rules on managing client funds. 


You'll need a valid passport, driving licence, national identity card or other form of ID to open a UK account, whether you're a resident or non-resident. If you can’t prove your identity, you won’t be able to open an account. 


Which business documents do I need to open an account for non-residents? 

If you plan to run a company in the UK, it's good practice to open a business account to separate company funds from personal funds. To open a business account, you may need to provide: 


  • A comprehensive business plan. 

  • Your Companies House registration number. 

  • Proof of business ownership. 

  • A UK business address. 

  • Your financial records. 


You should try to provide plenty of information to verify that your business is active, too. For example, you could also supply: 


  • Proof of a successful website with organic traffic flow. 

  • Evidence of your company’s social media accounts. 

  • Details of other responsible individuals, such as company directors, board members and other officials. 


You might also have to travel to the UK and visit a bank branch to complete your account verification process. However, with the rise of online and digital banking, this is becoming less common. 


How long does it take to open a non-resident account? 

Waiting times vary depending on the bank or alternative banking provider you choose. At traditional banks, it's common to wait months before an application is accepted.  


Digital-first challenger banks and alternative providers usually have faster approval processes, although onboarding for non-residents can still take a few weeks. Some EMIs, like Interpolitan Money, can onboard new customers within 7-10 working days. 


If your application is rejected, review your details to make sure you’ve provided all the right documentation.  


  • Did the bank provide any explanation for rejecting your application? 

  • Were there any errors or information that might have been unclear?  

  • Did this bank accept applications from UK non-residents? 


If your application is approved, congratulations. You should receive a sort code and account number, which you can use to make and collect payments locally and globally. At this stage, you can fund your account and set up regular payments to build your UK credit rating, so you can access other financial products, like loans, in the future. 


What if I’m an intermediary acting on behalf of a non-resident? 

If you represent a non-resident, make sure your client: 


  • Meets the provider's eligibility criteria. 

  • Can provide up-to-date identification, business documents (if applicable) and any other documents the provider has requested. 

  • Has clearly explained what the non-resident account will be used for. 

  • Accepts the provider's terms and conditions. 

  • Can legally have a UK account in your country or jurisdiction. 


Opening a non-resident account with Interpolitan 

Interpolitan Money offers non-resident accounts that enable you to pay, collect and hold money in 50+ currencies from over 160 countries. Our non-resident accounts can also help you: 


  • Reduce your currency risk, as you aren’t forced to convert payments into your home currency when market conditions are unfavourable. 

  • Pay family members or clients in the UK from abroad. 

  • Purchase a property in the UK. 

  • Make Liberalised Remittance Scheme payments. 


We work with intermediaries as well as clients, so if you’re a family office representative, accountant, solicitor or other third party, please get in touch to find out how we can help make your role easier. Click here to find out more or open an account today.   

bottom of page