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UK bank account as non-resident?

UK bank account as non-resident?

Old Mar 16, 09, 3:33 pm
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UK bank account as non-resident?

I will have to work as a contractor in the UK for about a month, while maintaining my residence in Switzerland. I realize this is not a problem legally thanks to the EU-Switzerland bilateral accords.

But my client would like to pay my salary to a UK bank account. Without official residence in the UK, will I be able to open such an account? And can anyone suggest a suitable bank / account type? I guess I'd really only need it for the most basic functions and a very limited time period.

Thank you in advance.
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Old Mar 16, 09, 9:00 pm
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Opening a bank account in the UK is like extracting blood from a stone. The ID requirements include some sort of proof that you are living in the UK, utility bill etc. As you will be there for such a short period it is likely that by the time you have opened the account you will have long since left the UK.

I'm not sure on the tax obligations but you could possibley open an account in the Channel Islands with one of the High Street banks and then get the money paid into there. I think they still use regular sort codes like the mainland but obviously they are available to non-residents.
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Old Mar 16, 09, 10:23 pm
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You can open an account(s) with Lloyds TSB and retain your home address all you need to do is provide proof of your residence.
The accounts can be euros, US dollars or GBP (I have a US address and accounts in all three) but only allowed a chequebook on the GBP account which behaves exactly like a normal UK account.

Transfers between different currency accounts are free and I pay only account maintenance fees on one account.

mike
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Old Mar 17, 09, 4:45 am
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Originally Posted by MIKESILV View Post
You can open an account(s) with Lloyds TSB and retain your home address all you need to do is provide proof of your residence.
The accounts can be euros, US dollars or GBP (I have a US address and accounts in all three) but only allowed a chequebook on the GBP account which behaves exactly like a normal UK account.

Transfers between different currency accounts are free and I pay only account maintenance fees on one account.

mike
Are you talking about an onshore or offshore account?
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Old Mar 17, 09, 5:12 am
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Thank you for your responses!
Originally Posted by MIKESILV View Post
You can open an account(s) with Lloyds TSB and retain your home address all you need to do is provide proof of your residence.
The accounts can be euros, US dollars or GBP (I have a US address and accounts in all three) but only allowed a chequebook on the GBP account which behaves exactly like a normal UK account.
I've looked into this option and found this website. These are indeed offshore accounts in the Channel Islands.
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Old Mar 17, 09, 12:11 pm
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Abbey International (Jersey) also offers a similar package. If you keep 5k in the account, it's free of monthly account maintenance fees.
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Old Mar 18, 09, 5:19 am
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It's is quite straight forward for someone in your position to open a UK bank account. But you do need to talk to a bank that knows what it's doing. I'm afraid your average High Street branch isn't going to have the expertise. But I can vouch for 2 banks that are well used to handling situations like yours:

Barclays International

HSBC International

They can also advise on whether on-shore or off-shore suit you best and help with tax advice.
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Old Mar 18, 09, 12:36 pm
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It's also worth talking to your current bank in Switzerland. Maybe they can offer some sort of solution, given the faff that would be involved in setting up a bank a/c in the UK. At least they would be able to provide a credit / identity reference.

You could also persuade your client to pay in a different way. As long as you have an IBAN number, they should be able to pay directly into your Swiss account (you will have to cover the exchange fees).

Many years ago, I had a client in France who insisted that I have a Euro-denominated account before they would pay me. I went to some considerable lengths to open one (my branch staff didn't even know Barclays have such a thing), only for the cheque to arrive in sterling.
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Old Nov 15, 09, 6:25 pm
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My experience from 20+ years ago.

Just so you can compare to the way it was about in 1989:

I decided I wanted a UK bank account about 20 years ago. I saw an advertisement in a British financial publication from NatWest. At that time, they had an expatriate service office East of London. I mailed them a letter, indicating I was interested in a current account and credit card. A short time later I got a package in the mail with forms and information they wanted. From what I recall, they wanted a bank reference letter from my bank (I had my local bank write me up one that indicated I was a dependable customer for many years), a signature guarantee on my application (got that from my bank too), and photocopies of identification (I sent them copies of my U.S. passport and drivers license). Since I was also applying for a credit card, I sent them a recent copy of my credit report (I forgot which credit bureau, but they all indicated I have excellent credit). I sent that all back to them.

A short time later (I forgot how long, but it couldn't have been more than two or three weeks), they sent me a letter that everything was in order, with instructions to send them an opening deposit. I sent them a personal check in U.S. Dollars from a bank here (I forgot the amount). They then opened my current account with a branch in London, negotiating my U.S. check and depositing it into my pound sterling account. A short time later, I got a Mastercard from them (1,000 pound credit limit), also an ATM card. A few years later I decided to open a small savings account with them too, and I eventually created an online banking logon when that became available.

I've never kept a very large amount of money with them (it's about a couple of thousand pounds), and any transactions I do (like savings account transactions or Mastercard purchases) aren't very large, but I do them regularly so I keep my accounts active. I figure after 20 years that they're very comfortable with me as a non-resident customer who they never have a problem with. I never plan on closing these accounts, being that I have no reason to, and also if I did, the process of opening (or reopening) accounts like this is much more difficult, if not impossible. But even back then, I certainly had to prove who I am and where I live, but not through all the hoops they make customers go through now.

I've been to the UK only twice since opening the accounts. One thing I need to remember if I bring my Natwest Mastercard with me to use there, is to also remember the PIN that goes with it. Credit transactions using UK issued cards in the UK require a PIN.

Last edited by burgerwars; Nov 15, 09 at 6:31 pm
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Old Nov 15, 09, 7:02 pm
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Actually I was interested in this topic because I'm in the UK a few times a year, and wouldn't mind having a UK bank account/ATM card to use vs paying the various fees when using US-based ATM. Plus, I have a UK client who would probably prefer to drop my consulting fee into a UK acct vs paying for wire-transfer to my US account (although not sure that would work best for me).

I thought of HSBC, but have been told by an American currently working in the UK that HSBC US & HSBC UK don't play well together re: accounts. Like the OP, my needs for an account would be pretty basic.

Cheers.
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Old Sep 16, 10, 12:15 pm
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Any updates? What did you end up with Sharon?
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Old Sep 18, 10, 3:14 pm
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[QUOTE=mad_rich;11433770]
.......

You could also persuade your client to pay in a different way. As long as you have an IBAN number, they should be able to pay directly into your Swiss account (you will have to cover the exchange fees).
.....
QUOTE]

I suspect the reason the client doesn't want to pay into a non-UK account is the high cost of iter-currency transfers. Even if you agreed to carry that cost yourself, it would require different paperwork for your client, and they don't want to know.
I deal with UK clients all the time, and have given up on painless transfers. I now get a Sterling cheque and lodge it myself, which costs much less. If you are going to be there for just a month, the payment won't come through until you get home anyway, I would have thought.
A good alternative, (depending on how much you will be paid) is to use UKFOREX, which is a great service. I've had a client in Australia use it and they are very happy with it. It works by them transferring the AU$ amount to me through OZFOREX who quote an agreed rate at the time of the deal, then hold the money for 2 days before paying it over to my account. I think the UK amount that your payment has to exceed to avoid charges (completely) is lower than the AU$ one, so it might work. http://www.ukforex.co.uk/

Last edited by measures; Sep 18, 10 at 3:17 pm Reason: UKFOREX note
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Old Oct 2, 11, 4:06 pm
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Bumping this thread.
I'm currently with HSBC Premier UK as I had the HSBC Poland, but with HSBC pulling out of Poland, I no longer qualify for the Premier in the UK, and I really don't want to pay some 25GBP/month fee for them to hold some money.
I want an account in the UK (be it "offshore" or mainland) with a UK debit card that I can fund and use when I go over to the UK on holiday, and also for Quidco (which requires a UK bank account)
As I don't live in the UK, I don't think any banks will work for non UK resident, so is there any offshore ones that will hold onto my money?
The other option is to open up an account in another country where the monthly fee is a lot less and just pay that fee there to qualify...

Last edited by jason8612; Oct 2, 11 at 4:25 pm
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Old Oct 2, 11, 6:10 pm
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Originally Posted by jason8612 View Post
Bumping this thread.
I'm currently with HSBC Premier UK as I had the HSBC Poland, but with HSBC pulling out of Poland, I no longer qualify for the Premier in the UK, and I really don't want to pay some 25GBP/month fee for them to hold some money.
I don't know what this "Premier" account is, but ordinary HSBC current accounts are free (I've had one for 30+ years). Whether or not they will let you have one is another question, but as you are an existing customer it probably can't hurt to ask.
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Old Oct 3, 11, 11:18 am
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Opening bank accounts in the UK :

My father was in the bank all his career.

By the 1970s he was the stereotypical Bank Manager of a branch. It was near a major University. Every year at the start of term 1 he would go down to the Students Union and set up a stall to open bank accounts for students who were getting their first grant cheques and had no account (and also gave a small presentation from the front about it). He used to open maybe 50 or more accounts, on the spot. I suspect some of those students still bank with the same orgaisation.

Roll forward to today and there is the most ludicrous over-reaction set of requirements imposed by the FSA on banks opening up accounts. The banks would love to do away with these nonsense requirements but are subject to post-account opening snap audits by the FSA, who are besotted with the belief that every person wanting to open an account is a dangerous multi-million pound money launderer, and also these auditors love to levy huge fines on banks who do not comply with their regulations.

To give an example, Mrs WHBM moved to the UK when we got married 7 years ago and I didn't want a new account for her, just to change mine to a joint account. However we had to go through all the hoopla. Utility bills with her name as proof of residence ? Well no, they were all set up in my name. Marriage certificate ? Not acceptable. Joint accounts had been forgotten by the FSA in their procedures, as it seems had anyone in our situation. Electoral roll ? Not published for some months. Previous bank accounts ? Inaccessible by UK banks. My own bank branch were very embarrassed to have to keep turning us down. Eventually we cracked it, but it was tortuous.

The FSA were of course typical of any government organisation. Good thing the current government abolished them.
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