Having a local bank account is essential for life in the UK; your NHS salary will be paid directly into it, you will need it to obtain a mobile contract, set up household bills and a debit card to pay for every day life.
In this blog post, we discuss the documents you will need, fees and charges involved, how to choose which high street bank to bank with and credit cards.
It is important to note that there is no legal barrier to opening a UK bank account as an international doctor, but each bank does have its own products which come with different rates, terms and conditions. So, you should always read the fine print before you agree to open an account with them.
To open a bank in the UK, you will need to evidence your identity, address, salary and your biometric residence permit (BRP). This allows banks to maintain their security and ensure accounts are not used for illegal activity.
1. Proof of Identification
To evidence your identity, you will need to show a current photo ID. Typically, doctors use a valid passport to do so. Other documents are accepted such as your driving licence or your BRP.
2. Proof of Address
Each high street bank has their own list of documents that they will accept for your proof of address. So, you will need to double check exactly what your chosen bank requires before you visit the branch to open up your account.
Typically, doctors use an Air B n B address or hospital accommodation.
As you will not have an available credit history, the bank may ask you to provide evidence of your yearly salary. You can obtain this evidence from your hospital’s HR department. Try and obtain this letter before you attend your appointment at the bank.
Evidencing your BRP is needed to confirm your right to reside in the UK. Doctors typically receive their BRP 3-7 days after arriving.
All documents must usually be original, issued within the last three months and show your full name and UK address.
The process can differ slightly depending on the bank. We advise that you call the branch in ahead of attending in person and confirm the documents that you need to open up an account. The typical steps are:
Please note, it can sometimes take a week or two to book an appointment in busy high street branches i.e. in major cities, so, planning ahead is essential.
Opening up a UK bank account is typically free; however, you may be required to have a certain amount paid into your account each month.
With regards to ATM fees, typically high street cash machines are free to use if you have a UK-issued debit card.
However, ATM machines you find in airports, train stations or pubs may charge a fee for cash withdrawals, usually around £1.50-3 per transaction. The machine will always notify you that there is a charge to use the service so, do check the screen before you enter your card and PIN.
Everybody’s banking needs are personal. If you have a healthy balance with lots of savings, you may be interested in the bank that pays the most interest. Or potentially, to aid your relocation you might seek a bank that does not charge for you to use their overdraft facilities.
Click here to compare high street banks.
Monzo was established in 2016 and it is a bank that will live on your smartphone and it is completely free to use. The bank allows you to sort your salary when you get paid into spending, saving and bills. You are able to set specific spending budgets for different categories, such as your food shop, entertainment or eating out so, you can track how well you are doing for each month.
There are two main advantages to Monzo. The first is that you can withdraw up to £200 per month abroad for free, from £200+ you will be charged 3%. Second, you can open up an account by simply uploading your passport and a video of yourself to the app. Applications are usually accepted in 1-2 days.
For further information, please click here.
Depending on what country you are residing in, you may be able to open up a UK bank account from overseas. Many British banks have a correspondent banking relationship with countries overseas. These accounts are designed for non-residents, so they are the perfect option if you cannot evidence a UK address. Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest offer international accounts. However, typically opening an international account from outside the UK can require a large initial deposit and you must commit to pay in a minimum amount of money each month. Some banks will charge you a monthly fee in addition to these requirements.
As you will be new to the UK, you might have difficulty getting access to credit, even if you did have good credit history in your home country. Credit reference agencies in the UK do not share data with similar agencies overseas, so when you first arrive in the UK, it is essentially like you are “invisible” to lenders and because they do not have any record of what you are like with money, therefore you might find it is harder to take out a credit card and loans.
If you have made an application for credit but been refused, it is not sensible to make too many applications. Lots of applications in a short space of time could damage your credit history, even if you have not been successful with your applications.
If you had good credit in your home country, you could contact your bank manager and ask them to provide you with a reference to your local branch in the UK. You could also consider applying for a “Credit Card Builder”, a credit card available for those building their credit. You should note that these cards often have higher interest rates, with the average interest rate 30% (January 2020). Click here to compare cards.
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The Telegraph. (2020). Tips for opening a UK bank account. [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/transferwise/how-to-open-a-bank-account-in-uk/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].
Vanquis.co.uk. (2020). Getting a Credit Card as a New UK Resident - Vanquis. [online] Available at: https://www.vanquis.co.uk/understanding-credit/financial-problems/overseas-uk-credit-rating [Accessed 6 Jan. 2020].