How to Open a Bank Account

You can apply to open a current account online, over the phone or in a bank or building society branch with a form of ID and proof of address, and you’ll need to be 16 or older in most cases.

Rebecca Goodman Published on 13 November 2020. Last updated on 20 January 2021.

You can open a current account quickly and easily with a form of ID and proof of your address.

Opening a new current account online or using an app takes around 15 minutes. However, if that’s not possible for you, you can still open one in a branch or in some cases over the phone.

And from basic to premium current accounts, there’s a wide range to choose from to help you start managing your money, organising your household bills and planning your future banking and savings goals.

Here we explain what you need to know to open a current account.

What do I need to open a bank account?

To open a current account you’ll need to fill in an application form, and you’ll be asked how much money you earn and how much your average outgoings are.

The bank or building society will also ask for some documents. These may have to be sent directly to the bank, but in some cases they can be photographed and emailed over.

Before the account is opened you’ll also be shown the terms and conditions and these will include details such as interest rates you’ll earn on your balance or fees to pay on any overdrafts.

» COMPARE: Choose from top current accounts

What ID do I need to open a bank account?

Banks usually ask for proof of identity which should be government-issued and include a photo. Each bank will have its own list of documents it accepts, but most will accept a passport, driving licence or a national identity card.

Can I open a bank account without proof of address?

They also ask for one or two documents to confirm your address. This could be something like a utility bill, tenancy agreement, council tax bill, or benefits statement dated within the last six months.

How do I open a bank account without ID?

If you don’t have the ID a bank is asking for, a letter from a responsible person who knows you, such as a GP, social worker, or your employer, may be accepted.

Some app-based accounts don't require proof of address and may not need to carry out a credit search, although they may charge a monthly fee.

If I don’t live in the UK, can I open a UK account?

Some banks offer international accounts for people who need them, even if they don’t live in the UK. You usually have to pay for these and make a deposit to open one.

How old do you have to be to open a bank account?

To open a current account you need to be 16, although some banks will only let those 18 or older open one.

Some banks offer current accounts for older children and teenagers, and they may have a cash or debit card but they won’t have any credit facilities such as overdrafts.

Could a bank reject my application?

If you have committed fraud, you’re bankrupt, or you have a poor credit rating a bank may refuse your application. However, you may still be able to open a basic bank account without any credit facilities.

» MORE: Learn how credit unions serve their members

Will my credit score be affected by opening a bank account?

A bank may check your credit history to see how likely it is that you could go overdrawn - even if you don’t have an arranged facility for doing this. It should tell you if it’s going to do a credit check before this happens.


About the author:

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance journalist who has spent the past 10 years working across personal finance publications. Regularly writing for The Guardian, The Sun, The Telegraph, and The Independent. Read more

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