Before your relocation to London it’s a very good idea to start to talk to your relocation services company about how to open a bank account prior to your arrival.  If you arrive after your relocation UK and try to just walk into a bank and open an account you may be in for a very unhappy experience.  The UK banking system requires an awful lot of paperwork, again some of this can be covered with your London relocation agent, obviously the proof of address would be one thing the relocation agent can verify, and proof of ID you’ll have with your passport.  Still, even if you haven’t arrived and don’t have an apartment address, you will want to try and open your account prior to your international relocation.  This way you aren’t in dire need of an account and if there are problems you will have time to work them out from home before moving to London.

Your relocation agent will tell you that there are some basic bits of information your going to need that are different in the UK than in the US or Canada.  Again, they will want formal identification so your passport, verification of your current bank and it’s address, statements from your current bank and then a required minimum deposit amount.  This amount will vary from bank to bank.  Your relocation agent may advise you to open a joint account if you are moving with a partner or significant other as this will reduce replicating the entire process again.  Having a joint account means you will only have to do all of this one time, and the minimum deposit can be split between you both.

If you haven’t received your passport as of yet and are tackeling this project early, you can use a drivers license, birth certificate, or state identification card as proof of identification.  Again, your relocation agent can provide the proof of address that you will need for the bank process.  If you have a job than providing the bank with proof of employment is always a good idea, the more documentation you can provide the bank with up front will aide them in opening the account for you.  Another suggested piece of documentation that is different in the UK than the US or Canada is the need for a credit letter from your current bank.  A credit letter or reference letter stating your good account standing from your stateside or Canadian bank is likely something most of the UK banks will require.

The faster that you tackle the bank account process the more established you’ll be to hit the ground running after your relocation.  Some of the banks you may want to select that service the UK are:

  • NatWest
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Barclays
  • Lloyds TSB
  • HSBC

You’ll also want to investigate with your current credit card companies from your home country if you intend to keep using them after you relocate.  Here the credit cards are outfitted with a chip and pin system.  With the current technologies chances are good that your credit cards already have this technology and it will be compatible here so you can still use your Master Card, or Visa, but it’s worth a call to the card holders to be sure.  Living here is very exciting, and also very expensive, it’s not a place you want to be caught without access to your money.  An ounce of prevention afterall will ease your relocation.