So you’re having a bit of freak out because you’ve found out the recent banking policy’s have changed and they require more than just a passport to open an account – they now require proof of address! Fear not, you have a few options depending on whether on not you’ve left Australia yet. (We’ve deliberately not included any third party companies where you pay them to organise to open up your bank account for you because we think all Aussies should experience the fun of opening up a bank account in the UK themselves)
IF YOU HAVEN’T LEFT AUSTRALIA
Option #1 (easiest option)
Open up a HSBC account in Australia then pay the AUD$200 fee to open an account in the UK by approaching your local branch (in Australia) – this might be the easiest option if you want an account already set up by the time you get there
See official HSBC website
Change your address with your bank account to a UK address (pick one of your friends who is already in the UK) and do both these things:
- have a statement (savings account) mailed to the UK address
- print out a copy of the statement (savings account) with the UK address and go to a branch and have it officially stamped
Take both statements to a bank in the UK to use as proof of address. People have reported this works with Lloyds Bank but not for Metro or Barclays. Unfortunately the banks can be inconsistent and often depends on the staff member you are speak to on the day!
This method appears to be more successful if your Australian account is with an international bank like Citibank or HSBC
IF YOU’RE ALREADY IN THE UK
Option #1 (easiest option)
Sign up for a Monese card
It is essentially like signing up to an online bank (with no branches) but you still get a card and can still make deposits (i.e. get your pay transferred into the account) and withdraw from your account. The fee currently is £4.95 per month
Here’s a great article that explains it
So unless you’re particularly fussed about having a physical bank, this may be the best option for you
Otherwise what you can do is have this account for a few months, then print out a bank statement from this account and use it as proof of address for one of the big banks along with your NI number. Please note this is again variable depending on the bank and staff member on the day.
Sign up for a Revolut card
This is similar to the Monese card except it was originally marketed as a travel card which offers excellent exchange rates whilst you’re travelling abroad. It also can double up as your everyday banking card (again, no physical branch) as they have now made it easy to transfer money into/out of the account. The account itself is free but if you withdraw more than 500 pounds worth per month there will be a small fee.
Just a few things to note – you will need a UK phone number and some people have been asked for a UK bank card (we weren’t) so this option might not be for everyone.
I’ve personally travelled with this card and used it in the UK and think it is fantastic!
Sign up with Halifax – http://www.halifax.co.uk/
Apparently they only require a passport to open up an account, but again, it really can depend on the staff member on the day. Can’t be sure how long this will last but people have recently mentioned they can still do it so worth a try!
Hot tip: sign up online first otherwise you will have to book an appointment first
Option #4 (the long-winded approach)
Wait for you NI number to come through and ask for your employer to write a letter confirming your employment with your UK address on it and use BOTH as proof of address for the bank
Apply for a provisional UK license – https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence
This will take a few weeks but some banks will accept this license as proof of address – worth checking with the banks before you go through the process of applying
TRANSFERRING MONEY FROM YOUR AUSTRALIAN ACCOUNT TO YOUR UK ACCOUNT
There are several foreign exchange companies out there, but the two that I’ve found with consistently good rates are:
- Transferwise – use this link to get your first transfer up to £500 free
- CurrencyFair – use this link (https://www.currencyfair.com/?channel=REAC01) to get your first transfer equivalent to €400 or more free
These two are competitors so its worth checking which one offers the best rate on the day.
Hope that makes it a little bit easier for you guys to get started with a bank account in the UK. Thanks to all the awesome Aussies in London members who have helped with all the tips!
Til next time
Ann & Jason xo