How do I open a UK business bank account if I am a non-UK resident? This is one of the most frequently asked questions from our overseas company formation clients. Most information on this topic is ambiguous and rather unhelpful. If you reside in the UK, it’s pretty straightforward, but the process can be complicated for overseas residents.
A business bank account is not a legal requirement…
But it is better to open and operate a separate bank account for your limited company finances and transactions. If you use your personal bank account, it will be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to distinguish between your own money and your company’s money. Business finances and transactions need to be recorded, transparent, easily traced.
If these credits and debits are bundled up amongst personal transactions like grocery shopping and mortgage payments, it will be much harder to manage and monitor your own money and your company’s money. Consider the problems this could create when it comes providing evidence of sales, expenses and profits/loss for your annual accounts and tax returns.
Non-UK residents can open a business bank account in the UK
However, many banks are reluctant to offer this service for a number of reasons; namely fraud prevention and the cost of administration. As far as we are aware, the following banks are offering such services to non-UK residents:
Please note: All bank account applications are subject to status, and the banks’ terms and conditions, and so 1st Formations cannot guarantee business bank accounts will be offered.
HSBC can provide banking services for UK companies in which all shareholders and directors are non-residents of the UK. This comes with the proviso that the owners of the company visit the UK to meet with the bank.
For more information on HSBC’s business banking, call (from UK), 0800 032 1770 or from outside the UK, 0044 01470 697032.
An international business bank account is available from Barclays for non-UK resident directors and shareholders of UK incorporated companies. Applications must be made to Barclays International in the Isle of Man and the account will be classified as offshore. Once opened, however, the account will be based in London and it provides the same benefits available to onshore account holders, such as: credit and debit cards, cheque books, and online and telephone banking.
N.B. Barclays requires business banking clients to place £25,000 on deposit in the first month of opening an account.
Barclays International can be contacted here.
UK companies do not require UK business bank accounts
Whilst it may make sense to open an account in the country in which your company is registered, it is possible to open one in your own country of residence. This requires legalising your company documents by having them ‘apostilled’.
Provided you reside in a country that is party to the 1961 Hague Convention, you have the option of applying for Apostille Certificates to legally authenticate your Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum and Articles of Association for use abroad.
This requires both documents being signed by a notary and legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. When your documents have been authenticated, you will be issued with Apostille Certificates and you can apply for an account in your own country. This will certainly reduce the travel time required if you need to visit the bank!
1st Formations Apostille Service
1st Formations can provide assistance with the legalisation of your company formation documents. Our in-house notary will sign your Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum and Articles of Association, forward them to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for authentication and deliver the Apostille Certificates by courier to your preferred address. This service is available for £89.99 plus VAT per certificate, which includes the cost of all postal and courier charges. Please contact us for further information about our Apostille Service.