How to open a bank account in the United Kingdom from Australia
While international travel isn’t an option for most of us at the moment, there may still be a point in the future when you need a UK bank account, particularly from Australia.
You might be moving country, and want to take your business with you. Your business may be expanding, and you want to deal in the local currency.
Whatever your reason, here’s how to go about opening a UK business bank account from Australia.
Requirements for opening a UK bank account from Australia
Despite our unique culture and our regional differences, banking is a reasonably similar experience, whether you’re in Melbourne or Manchester. There are a few standard things you’ll need when opening a UK account from Australia.
To begin with, you’ll need:
Proof of ID for all business directors. This can be your passport, or driver’s licence, or a government-issued ID.
Proof of your address. You can use a recent bank statement or a utility bill.
You’ll also need to provide some company-specific details, like:
Full business address and contact details
Estimated annual turnover
Companies House registration number. This is the equivalent of your ACN
The good news is that, unlike some countries, there are no legal restrictions that stop you from opening a UK bank account as a non-resident. The larger UK banks, like Lloyds, HSBC, and Barclays, all offer international business bank accounts.
However, British anti-money-laundering policies don’t make the process of opening a UK bank account as a non-resident easy. It’s possible, but there are some pretty strict requirements that go with them.
Can I open a UK bank account online?
In theory, yes, you should be able to open an international UK bank account online with one of the big UK banks.
But that’s the short answer. When you dive deeper, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that.
While you can do it, it doesn’t mean it’s anything like opening a bank account as a resident.
To begin with, you might need to speak with someone directly for assistance, on an international number. You’ll also find yourself facing large initial deposits, and strict bank balance thresholds you need to maintain. On top of this, you’re likely to come up against monthly account fees, and minimum deposit amounts each month.
What costs and fees should I expect?
Some banks charge monthly fees, and others charge annual fees. You can expect to pay anywhere from £0—£6.50 a month, or up to an average £60—£78 annually . Some banks offer fee-free banking for the first year with them, which is a bonus.
ATM and bank teller fees
Some banks will offer free transactions, but these usually come with a limit of 50 or so until you start paying per transaction. And as a busy business, this can happen quite quickly. You can typically expect to pay between £0.30—£0.60 or so per transaction outside of this limit.
International transfer fees
Banks in the UK aren’t much better than Australian banks when it comes to international transfer fees . Expect to pay around 3-4% of your transfer sum in fees.
Account closure fees
While it’s not likely that the bank will charge you an account closure fee, you can never be sure, so make sure to check your Product Disclosure prior to doing so.
Poor FX rates when transferring money
Banks traditionally offer poor FX rates when transferring money. After all, it’s part of how they make a profit. It pays to shop around when making a foreign exchange.
Annual card fees
These days, many banks provide low- or fee-free card options, even for businesses. However, as a business, you’re like to be charged a fee per card used by your business. These can start as low as £28 and go up from there.
That all sounds like business as usual—so let’s look at some of the restrictions around opening a UK international bank account as a non-resident. We’ve broken these down into the main offerings from the UK’s big banks.
Roadblocks to opening a UK bank account as a non-resident
We’re putting this one here to demonstrate to you that it’s not always easy.
To open a business account with HSBC you must already be a customer with them, be based in the UK, and be available to open your account in person. So this means that you’re not able to open a UK bank account from Australia.
Barclays Bank does have the option to open a bank account from outside the UK.
However, strap yourself in. The drawback of this is that you need to deposit quite a high sum to get your account started.
To apply for your UK bank account, you’ll need:
Primary ID, like your passport
Secondary ID that contains proof of your address, signed by a notary
To open your account, you have to make an initial deposit of £100,000 within the first three months, which you’ll then need to maintain
You have to have an Australian income of AU$250,000, or assets worth AU$2.5 million
To open your account, you need to give them a call on their international number.
These high minimums make it quite prohibitive to open a UK bank account from Australia with Barclays.
NatWest are somewhat more forgiving when it comes to opening a UK bank account as a non-resident.
You’re still required to have a minimum balance of £100,000
You need to demonstrate an annual salary of £75,000
However, to actually open the account you can only do this once you’re in the UK.
Lloyds make things a bit easier to open a UK bank account from Australia.
You still need to make an initial deposit of £100,000
But you only need to demonstrate an income of £50,000 or more
You’ll pay a monthly fee of £7.50
So with these high deposit amounts, it’s still quite prohibitive for some businesses.
All round, it’s not particularly easy, or viable, to open a UK bank account in Australia.
Luckily, Airwallex has an alternative.
An Airwallex GBP Global Account was made for international business
An Airwallex GBP Global Account lets you open a business account in GBP without leaving the country. Without leaving your seat, even.
There’s no need to visit a branch in person or jump through hoops. You don’t need proof of a UK address.
You can open your Airwallex GBP Global Account online, from your very own home. It’s a quick, painless process, designed to get your business online faster.
There are no monthly account fees, no signup fees, and no annual card fees. You can send and receive GBP directly to and from your account, without any FX required, all via a local sort code and account number.
So book a demo with us today to open your GBP Global Account, and get your business set up to head back to blighty.
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