How to Open a Business Bank Account in the UK

Opening a business account UK
  • International business
  • Money transfer

Companies are looking for ways to circumvent high transaction fees of the SWIFT network when paying or receiving money from their partners in the UK. In this article, we explain how to open a business account in the UK and how to make use of the cost-efficient Faster Payments Service (FPS), which allows local businesses to make GBP transactions much cheaper and faster.

Benefits of opening a UK bank account

Opening a UK bank account pays off when your company frequently conducts transactions with partners inside the UK. Traditionally, businesses use the SWIFT network to pay their business partners abroad. The problem: SWIFT usually charges a fee of 3-5% of the transferred amount and takes several business days until the transaction is fulfilled.

When opening a UK business bank account, you can make use of local payment schemes such as FPS. The service doesn’t only cost a fraction of the SWIFT network, but offers instant transactions within seconds. This makes FPS one of the best payment schemes the UK has to offer.

To use this service, companies need to open a UK bank account. The following sections describe the possibilities of foreign companies located outside the UK to profit from local payment schemes.

Can non-resident aliens open a UK bank account?

Non-resident aliens can open a UK bank account. However, the process is complicated and involves a lot of bureaucracy. This makes it almost impossible to open a bank account in the UK, if you are not already located inside the country.

Even though the process may differ from bank to bank, there are some general requirements to be fulfilled. These usually include:

  • A business address within the UK
  • An account signatory or company representative living in the UK
  • A business plan, which outlines the reason why you need a UK business bank account
  • A list of all shareholders with more than 10% ownership

What UK banks offer bank accounts for non-residents?

If you fulfil the requirements as outlined in the previous sections, finding a bank in the UK is the easiest part, as the banking sector is among the largest in Europe. Top-ranking banks include, among many others, HSBC Holdings, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays.

  • HSBC Holdings: The biggest bank in Europe in terms of total assets. HSBC Holdings allows foreigners to open a bank account with proof of UK residency.
  • Lloyds Banking Group: One of the biggest banking institutions in the UK. Opening a classic business bank account requires a proof of residence inside the UK.
  • Barclays: The banking giant offers a wide range of services, including retail, business and investment banking. Opening a business account in the UK also requires proof of residency.

Alternatives of opening a UK bank account

The previous sections make clear: Opening a business bank account in the UK is almost impossible without local presence. Luckily, there are other ways, which enable you to pay like a local in the UK, no matter where your company is located.

Create a foreign currency account at your local bank

One way to circumvent conversion fees is to open a foreign currency account at your local bank. Foreign currency accounts enable you to hold other currencies, which means that incoming or outgoing payments don’t need to be exchanged to your local currency.

Despite this advantage, a foreign currency account doesn’t help you profit from local payment schemes. You are still required to use the SWIFT network with its high transaction fees to pay your business partners. Therefore, a foreign currency account won’t help you save a lot of money.

Create a GBP account with amnis

If you are located outside the UK, the best possible option to save transaction and conversion fees is to open a multi-currency business account at amnis. The digital payment platform allows you to pay and receive money in over 20 currencies, which streamlines all your financial processes.

Even better: You can make use of the UK Fast Payments Service and pay and receive GBP like a local. With amnis and FPS, you can circumvent SWIFT transaction fees of 3-5%, while profiting from instant payments – no UK residency or business bank account required.

Improve your international payments today

amnis subscription plans are available from $0/month and are easily scalable to perfectly fit your business needs. You can save transaction fees from day 1 and make use of local payment schemes such as FPS. Create a free demo account now to save time, money and paperwork for all your international transactions.

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Sabrina Maly
As a marketing manager at amnis I provide SMEs with fx market, international business and news updates on our blog & FAQ page.
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