Most major banks don’t seem to offer business bank accounts to non-residents, but there are some online-only disruptor banks that do. Tide offers internet banking via a mobile phone app. You can open a business account online without being a UK resident as long as you’re a director of a company registered with UK Companies House.
Similarly you can open a Revolut online banking account as a non-UK resident as long as your company is registered in and with a physical presence within the United States of America, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Revolut is a strong contender for a UK business bank account for non-residents as it offers multi-currency accounts and you can send and receive funds in 30+ currencies (although this is at the real (interbank) exchange rate).
For wire transfers, a specialist foreign exchange service like WorldFirst is a good alternative to UK and foreign banks. With a World Account you can easily pay suppliers, with same-day payments across popular currency pairs and extended cut-off times to help speed up your supply chain, making it a viable alternative to a savings account and offshore banks.
Freelancers and sole traders
As a sole trader you may have more options than a company as you can use a personal account for work instead of a dedicated business account. Your personal account options for a UK bank account for non-residents depends on if you stay in the UK for some of the year and can get proof of a physical address. This is because proof of address is one of the main documents needed to open a bank account in the UK so will give you a far greater choice of accounts. Common forms of proof of address documents include a:
- Utility bill such as gas, electricity, water or phone
- Mortgage statement
- Bank statement
- Driving licence
If you rent a property for some of the year then a bank may accept your tenancy agreement as proof of address. You might also be able to change the correspondence address for the bank in your main country of residence to your UK address. When they then send you a bank statement you can use this as proof of address. Once you have a UK proof of address you should be able to open an account with either a traditional high street bank or an online banking service like Monzo.
If you live entirely outside the UK
If you never temporarily stay in the UK and therefore can’t provide any sort of UK proof of address, there are still a few options. Lloyds Bank, Barclays and HSBC all offer international current accounts, but you'll need to consider the monthly fees and minimum deposits required.
Open a free World Account
- Open up to 10 local currency accounts, with local sort codes, account numbers and IBANs
- Collect secure payments from 100+ marketplaces, overseas buyers and payment processing gateways
- Pay suppliers, partners and staff in 40 currencies without hidden fees
- Pay and get paid easily with local bank details on your invoices
- Lock in conversion rates to manage your currency risk
Documents you’ll need
To help prevent fraud, UK banks, including online banks, ask you to provide proof of identity. You’ll need to send copies of these documents with the account application form or as part of the internet banking online application process. Common forms of proof of identity:
- Driving licence
- National identity card
Before you send off your documents to open a UK bank account, it’s worth checking if they need to be certified copies. You might also need to provide proof of address either for outside or within the UK – see the "freelancers and sole traders" section above. Check your chosen bank’s website for more details on the documents they require for foreign nationals opening an account.
An alternative to banks
With the high initial deposit needed for international bank accounts and the limited options for those without a UK proof of address, it’s well worth looking at what other types of account can offer. If you need to make or take business payments from outside the UK, the World Account is an easy alternative to a bank account.
You can pay overseas staff and suppliers in 68 currencies, with same-day availability on 97% of currency pairs actively traded through our online platform (cut-off times apply). Opening an account is free and easy, with no monthly or annual fees and no deposit requirement or cap on transfers.
Businesses like yours trust WorldFirst
- Almost 1,000,000 businesses have sent £125bn around the world with WorldFirst and its partners since 2004
- Your money is safeguarded with leading financial institutions
- We’re an authorised payment services provider