Relocating to the UK – How To Open a UK Bank Account & International Shipping
In Part 2 of our UK Relocation series, we turn our attention to the world of banking and shipping....
There are many banks to choose from when deciding to open a bank account in the UK. Since the economic crash of 2008, the British banks are now a little more discerning in choosing clientele but if you have all the correct documentation, then you’ll have no problems setting up a bank account.
There are many high street banks that offer pretty much the same type of service, with the main ones being Lloyds, TSB, Barclays and HSBC. There are also internet banks such as First Direct and Smile and many of the big high street stores such as Sainsburys, Tescos and John Lewis also own internet banking facilities so it’s often worth checking those out too.
Here is a useful site from the Bank of England listing all the main banks and building societies available: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/pra/Pages/authorisations/banksbuildingsocietieslist.aspx
Many of the banks require you to visit in order to set up an account but if you can’t manage before your actual move then it might be worth asking an international company formation agent to help you as they have direct contacts with British banks.
For personal/family bank accounts you will need:
- Your passport
- A proof of address in the UK such as your accommodation contract or an electricity bill or phone bill (but it cannot be a mobile phone bill)
If you’re setting up a business in the UK and you want to open a corporate/business bank account you will need:
- The company’s documents
- The UK address of the company
- Your passport and proof of address
- The ID and proof of address of all shareholders who hold more than 15% of shares
- The ID and proof of address of all Directors of the company
- Your Company Business Plan
Each bank is different so make sure you know exactly what they need before you make your choice. Some banks require a certified translation of your ID documents and some require two pieces of proof of address. It’s always best to come prepared with more than you need to cover all eventualities.
You’ll also need to consider how you will transfer your money into your British bank account. Most banks charge for this and you may find yourself losing money with the exchange rate. So think about foreign exchange services (FOREX) which will save you money, especially if you’ll be transferring money on a regular basis.
So once you’ve got your bank account sorted, you can start directing your attention to planning your actual moving day.
Packing Up & Shipping Out
The next important step with an international move is sorting out your shipping and removal requirements. Before you start getting quotes, you will need to draw up a list of everything you’ll want to take with you.
There may be things like fridges and ovens that are best left behind and, unless you want to pay an absolute fortune, try and whittle down your belongings to “must haves” – don’t bother dragging the contents of your spice cupboard across the border because one of the many advantages of living in the UK is that the cost of living is extremely low so anything from furniture to kitchen condiments can be picked up very cheaply. And anything you don’t take, you may be able to sell it to raise money to cover the shipping fees!
Once you’ve done that, get your tape measure out and measure the size of all your furniture. Then you’ll need to calculate how many extra boxes of things you’ll need to take such as clothes, books, CDs, DVDs, ornaments, toys, bedding, linen and kitchen equipment. The shipping company needs to have an accurate idea of what you’re taking otherwise you could end up with a lorry turning up that just isn’t big enough and that would be a real disaster.
(From personal experience, it’s a good idea to make your best guess and then double the amount of boxes you’ll need. We ended up with about 30 boxes just of books – double what we’d originally thought.)
Many shipping companies provide boxes and packing materials such as bubble wrap, foam and packing tape within their quoted price so check with them first before you order any separately.
You can find plenty of shipping companies on the internet but be warned – sometimes the lowest price doesn’t mean the best service. Ask around your friends to see if they have personal recommendations or look for the ones with the best reviews. Sometimes it’s a good idea to go with the middle-ground prices so you know you’ll get a half-way decent service without paying through the nose. And always ring up and talk to someone there to get a feel of the company. If you’re kept waiting for a long time or if there’s a lot of background noise as if it’s a call centre then this is a bad sign. Go for somewhere that’s maybe a smaller, family-size company, which offers a personal service and answers your emails and calls quickly and efficiently.
Then check if you’ll need a permit to park the van outside your property and whether you can save a space. Unless you’re completely blocking a main road, the UK authorities tend to be pretty kind to new arrivals. The shipping company will advise you on this.
You may also want to think about storing some of your furniture and belongings. Some shipping companies offer storage facilities, otherwise take a look at what’s available by seeing what’s listed in your area. Here’s a good article from The Guardian Newspaper about what to look for in a storage company: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2006/jun/03/moneysupplement6
So once your date is confirmed, you’ll need to think about how the move will affect the rest of your family…Click HERE for Part 3 on how to find schools and doctors and how to deal with your pets or click HERE for Pärt 4 on visas, tax, work and how to set up your own business in the UK.
If you've read all the parts in this Relocation series and still require direct information on how to set up a UK business, opening a bank account, finding an accountant, foreign exchange services or visas, please don’t hesitate to email us via our contact page stating ‘Relocation to the UK’ in the email subject heading.