If you reside in the United Kingdom and want to open a business bank account for your limited company, it is usually not complicated. For example, you can use our fast-track bank account referral service when opening a new company.
As you fill out the online application to form your company, a selection of banks that offer services best suited for your company type and business activities will be displayed on our website. Select the bank that best suits your needs, and we will securely send your information to the bank of your choosing.
Although more complex, it is still possible to open a UK business bank account for non-UK residents. Most High Street banks in Great Britain, such as Barclays and Lloyds, do not offer accounts for companies managed by non-UK residents, or make the process extremely complicated; however, there are other options. Below, we explain the different alternatives available.
If I do not live in the UK, what are my choices for opening a business bank account?
We have partnered with different payment institutions to give foreign directors a solution for their businesses that are registered in the United Kingdom.
To be more precise, this is not a bank account, but rather a business account with an electronic money institution. They offer similar products and services as banks, but may be more flexible and accommodating for foreign nationals.
The main difference between a bank and an e-money institution is that banks offer lending products such as loans and mortgages, while e-money institutions do not. Banks are also subject to stricter regulations than e-money institutions.
If you are a foreign national or reside outside of the UK and are looking for an alternative to a bank account to manage your limited company, you may want to consider using a payment institution.
With this solution, you will get a current account and corresponding GBP sort code and account number, as well as an IBAN – just like any other UK bank account. You can also hold, send and receive other currencies in the same account.
What are the benefits of a payment institution’s business account?
There are several advantages of using an e-money institution to set up your business account, whether you are a foreign national or not:
- Fast and simple account opening: you can open your account in just a few minutes, without having to visit a branch.
- Debit cards available: you can get a debit card linked to your account, so you can easily make payments in person or online.
- Efficient international money transfers: you can send and receive money quickly and easily, with low fees.
- Flexible account management: you can manage your account online or via a mobile app, so you can keep track of your finances no matter where you are.
Wise Business Account
One of the best e-money institution options available for non-UK residents is Wise (formerly known as TransferWise). Wise is a very popular choice among small businesses and startups, as it offers low fees, fast and efficient international money transfers, and flexible account management.
You can open an account with Wise in just a few minutes, without having to visit a branch. You can also get a debit card linked to your account, so you can easily make payments in person or online. You can manage your account online or via a mobile app, so you can keep track of your finances no matter where you are.
If you apply for a Wise business account through our website, you will be eligible for a free up to £20,000 transfer – an offer that is exclusively available to Uniwide Formations customers.
Here are some of the great features Wise offers e-commerce businesses:
- Cheaper than PayPal, always. With better exchange rates and no monthly or hidden fees, you’ll get more for your money every time.
- Get money from online marketplaces or PSPs without having to convert it into other currencies, including GBP, USD, CAD, EUR , SGD , AUD , NZD and TRY.
- You can pay or send invoices in over 50 currencies, across 80+ countries.
- Integrations with accounting tools, such as Xero, Quickbooks and Freeagent.
- Direct Debit availability.
- Wise debit card for online payments.
Wise is regulated by agencies in every country it operates in. For example, the FCA in the UK and FinCen in the US.
Click the button below to apply for a Wise Business account.
To open your Wise Business account, simply click below. Then, on the new page that has just appeared, choose "Get started" / "Create your account".
If you want to know more, check out our article: “Wise Business Account: How to Save Money on Your International Transactions“.
Airwallex Business Account
Another popular e-money institution among small businesses and startups is Airwallex. Airwallex offers fast and efficient international money transfers, flexible account management, and a wide range of features and services.
Airwallex will allow you to:
- Set up new accounts in the UK, US, AU, EU and HK quickly and easily, without any account setup or management fees. Plus, you can start collecting payments in local currency right away.
- Collect and send money around the world faster with fewer fees.
- Save over 80% on currency exchange vs high street banks.
- Pay like a local in the local currency, wherever you are. Make domestic transfers in GBP and international transfers via SWIFT.
- Issue multi-currency Visa and Mastercard debit cards quickly, complete with dedicated employee access to track spending in real time.
- Set up and link multiple accounts globally to the major e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, to receive funds “like for like”.
- Accept card payments from your customers online.
- Create physical and virtual employee cards, as well as company cards, in just minutes, and track spending and set spending limits.
- Link your Airwallex account to accounting software, such as Xero.
- Invite your team member, for example, an accountant or bookkeeper, to access your account.
Airwallex is a great choice for businesses that want to save on currency exchange fees and receive/send money quickly and easily. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
You can apply for an Airwallex business account through our website.
To open your Airwallex Business account, simply click below. Then, on the new page that has just appeared, choose "Get started" / "Create your account".
What documents are required to open a business account?
To open a Business Account with one of our partners, you will need to provide your company name, registration number and address, as well as your personal details (name, date of birth, address, nationality, passport number). You will also need to upload some documents to verify your identity and address.
It is likely that you will need to provide more than just your business’ name, contact information and website URL. Be prepared with a description of what your business does, as well some form of financial projection for the future. The more information you can provide, the better your chances of being approved for a business account.
Please note that our partners may require additional documents or information from you in order to open a business account.
How long does it take to open a business account?
The time it takes to open a Business Account depends on the provider you choose. Once you have submitted your application and all the required documents, it can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to get approved and have your account up and running.
Can you guarantee that I will receive a UK business account?
Although we have various options for non-resident directors, each bank or payment institution has its own policy and makes the final decision. This means that we cannot guarantee your application’s success.
If you want to open a business bank account for your limited company, but do not reside in the UK, the above-mentioned options could be a good solution for you. Get in touch with us today to find out more.