How to open a euro business bank account from the UK
If you’re a UK business with customers or suppliers in Europe, opening a euro bank account can save you a lot of money.
If you don’t have a euro account, you will be charged currency conversion fees every time you receive payment from your European customers, when you send money to your European suppliers, and when you pay for expenses in euros. By opening a euro account, you can sidestep these fees, and dramatically improve your profit margins.
What is a euro business bank account?
A euro business bank account allows you to receive, hold and send euros from the UK without converting them into pound sterling. By opening a euro business account, you can avoid unnecessary transfer and currency exchange fees.
Depending on who you open your euro account with, you may also receive a debit card which you can use to pay international expenses, without being subject to currency conversion charges.
You can open a euro business account with Airwallex online and start spending and collecting euros across borders with zero fees.
Why open a euro bank account?
According to eMarketer, the global ecommerce market is expected to grow by over 50% in the next four years, reaching $7.385 trillion by 2024. As ecommerce booms around the world, more and more businesses are looking to grow across borders. A recent Airwallex survey found that 77% of UK firms plan to expand their international presence in 2022.
Overseas expansion presents countless opportunities for UK businesses. But unless firms adapt their banking strategy, they could end up paying thousands of pounds in unnecessary transfer and currency exchange fees.
Here are a few examples of how your business could be stung:
Paying international suppliers: high street banks charge between 2.6 - 3.5% above the interbank rate for currency exchange. So if you pay your European suppliers £100,000 a year, you could end up forking out £3,500 to the banks, just for the privilege of sending money abroad.
Receiving money from customers: when you collect foreign currencies via a payment gateway—such as PayPal, Amazon Pay or Stripe—into a UK bank account, you will be charged a currency conversion fee between 2 - 2.5%. That’s on top of standard transaction fees.
Paying employees abroad: the rise of remote working has allowed more firms to employ staff overseas. But unless you have a euro account, every time you pay your European employees, you’ll also be paying the banks.
Paying for international expenses: many tech companies, including Facebook, Google and LinkedIn are billed outside the UK. So if you pay for your online ads or software subscriptions from a sterling account, you may be hit with fees.
Spending abroad: if you or your team take regular business trips to the continent, you'll be charged a fee every time you use your debit or credit card if that card is linked to a sterling account.
Over the course of a year, your business could rack up hundreds of thousands in unnecessary fees. Fortunately, you can avoid these fees relatively easily by setting up an international account.
The best euro account options for UK businesses
Once you’ve decided to open a euro account, you have a couple of options:
1. Apply for a foreign currency account with a bank
High street banks will allow you to open a euro account if your business meets their criteria. In most cases, you must have a sterling business account with your chosen bank before opening a foreign currency account.
The drawback of choosing a high street bank for your euro business account is that they charge a variety of fees. These include:
Account fees ranging from £24 - £60 per year
Fees for paying out and receiving money, between £6 - £25 per transaction
Non-sterling debit card charges up to 2.75% of the transaction value
Cash withdrawal charges between 1.5 - 2.75 %
Currency exchange fees between 2.6 - 3.5% above the interbank rate
Essentially, opening an euro business account with a high street bank will help you curb the cost of transferring large sums of money to European suppliers, but it won’t necessarily help you avoid other costs, such as paying smaller international expenses, receiving funds from customers, using a debit card abroad, or converting euros to pound sterling.
2. Apply for a global business account
If you want to make your business truly borderless, a better option might be to open a global business account (sometimes called a multi-currency account). With an Airwallex global business account, you can hold multiple currencies, including euros, USD and pound sterling, in a single account, whilst avoiding unnecessary fees.
The benefits of opening a global account with Airwallex include:
No account fees
Zero transaction fees when sending and receiving euros across borders
Zero transaction fees when you spend in euros with our borderless debit card, at home or abroad
Currency exchange between 0.5 - 1% above the interbank rate
So whether you’re collecting euros from customers, sending euros to suppliers, or paying in euros with your borderless card, you won’t be hit with unnecessary fees.
You’ll also have the advantage of managing your finances from a single account, whether you’re dealing in sterling, euros, USD, Chinese Yuan or any of the 11+ currencies we offer.
How to open a euro business account
Whichever provider you choose, the easiest way to open an international business account is to apply online.
Applying for an international business account is a similar process to applying for a sterling business account. You will be asked a series of questions about your business, and prompted to upload some documentation including:
Proof of identity, such as a picture of your passport or driving license
Proof of address, such as a bill or bank statement
Certificate of incorporation, memorandum and articles of association (if you’re a limited company)
Your provider will then check your eligibility and be in touch to set up your account. The process should take between 2 - 5 business days.
Growing your business overseas used to mean higher account and transaction fees. But by choosing the right business account, you can now expand your international presence whilst actively reducing your expenses.
Related article: CHAPS vs. BACS: What’s the difference?
Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.
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