Can You Open a UK Business Bank Account as a Non-Resident?
Even though it is theoretically possible to open a UK business account if you don’t live in the UK, there are several things you need to consider. Find out more about your options below.
If you’re a UK resident, it should be relatively straightforward to open a UK business bank account with any provider, as long as you meet their criteria.
However, if you’re not a UK resident but want to open a business account in the UK, things get a bit more complicated.
There are many reasons why you may want to open a UK business account as a non-resident, such as making and receiving payments from clients in the UK, or to pay any UK-based employees.
Whether you can open a UK business account as a non-resident will depend on a number of factors, including your business situation, the country you live in, and the terms of each provider.
Can I open a UK business account as a non-resident?
There’s no law that stops a non-UK resident from opening a UK business bank account, so it is possible.
It’s important to always check the terms and conditions of each account as providers may set extra requirements or ask for extra documentation if you’re not a UK resident.
If in doubt, there are organisations that can discuss your options with you and help you to open a UK business account if you don’t live in the country.
» COMPARE: Business bank accounts
Is it difficult to open a UK business account as a non-resident?
It can be harder to open a business bank account in the UK if you do not already live here.
Many business banking providers state explicitly in their eligibility criteria that you need to be a UK resident to open an account with them. This is likely to be because banks have to run comprehensive identity checks and follow extensive anti-money laundering regulations whenever someone applies for a business bank account.
If you’re a UK resident, these checks are relatively easy to make. If, however, you’re not a UK resident, it’s often more complicated and time-consuming to do these checks, which means many banks won’t accept applications from non-residents to avoid these issues.
Despite this, there are providers that allow you to open a UK business account, even if you’re not a resident.
» MORE: Benefits of a business account
UK business banking options for non-residents
There are several routes you could go down if you’re a non-UK resident looking to open a business account in the UK, including:
- UK high street banks
- digital providers
- international business bank accounts
UK high street banks
Some of the high street banks in the UK may offer business accounts to directors who are not residents in the UK. However, they may set further terms and your business may need to be registered in the UK and have at least one business owner that is a UK resident, for example.
You may also need to visit a branch in the UK as part of the application process which, if you don’t live in the UK, may not be very easy to do.
It’s always best to check with individual providers to see if you qualify for a business account. The bank may want to talk to you to find out more about your situation and your business before deciding if they can offer you an account.
Digital online-only providers – sometimes known as challenger banks – may also be another way you may be able to open a bank account in the UK as a non-resident.
As digital providers don’t have branches and operate solely online, it may be easier to find a provider that will accept applications from people not living in the UK. Because they make all their checks online, you won’t need to visit a branch to confirm your identity, for example.
There are also specialist digital providers that offer international multi-currency accounts, which aim to make it easier for businesses to hold money in different currencies and make and receive payments from different countries.
This option could potentially allow you to have an account with a UK bank account number and sort code, which could make transactions with other UK accounts easier.
But, as with high street banks, there will be some providers that flat-out refuse to consider applications from non-UK residents. Check the terms of individual providers to see if you are eligible for a business account with them.
Some providers will only consider applications if your business is registered in the UK, or if you live in the European Economic Area (EEA) or other specified countries, for example.
» MORE: Guide to online business banking
International bank account
Rather than a specific UK business account, another option could be to see if you can open an account with an international bank.
With an international business account, you could make and receive payments in the UK and other countries, for example, so it may be a suitable option for your business.
Some international banks even have branches in the UK.
It may be worth considering international accounts to see if you are eligible and if they offer everything your business needs. Whether it’s a bank based in the country you live in or a global banking organisation, it may be easier to open an account with them rather than a specific UK-based bank.
» MORE: Do I need a business account?
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Rhiannon is a financial writer for NerdWallet, with a particular interest in personal finance and insurance guides for consumers. Read more