There are more and more opportunities for doing business abroad, including in the UK. However, entrepreneurs have to put up with increased control by the state. In particular, we are talking about financial monitoring – measures that contribute to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing (AML and CFT).


For your information! England is one of the countries where Ukrainians can freely register a business, but open accounts with great difficulty, as they are identified by banking institutions as high-risk AML clients.


If you want to open an account in the UK, then: a) you should think carefully about how this is a non-alternative need – it is much easier to open an account in one of the EU jurisdictions; b) you can not do without experienced assistants with successful cases. To begin with, we invite you to consult with the lawyers and lawyers of Lawrange JSC, and then, if you understand that you will definitely need an English account, we are ready to lend a helping hand in solving this problem. Our experience in accompanying foreign businessmen in the United Kingdom gives us the right to say that there are sufficient chances for success.



Characteristics of the UK as a jurisdiction for opening an account


The UK banking system combines a centuries-old tradition of reliability with the rapid absorption of FinTech innovations. The country has been and remains one of the largest and most respectable financial centers in the world. British banks traditionally provide a wide range of services and have extensive networks of branches around the world. An account in an English bank, both for individuals and for companies, is associated with status and reputation.


The control of the country’s banking system is carried out by such government structures as the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Conduct Authority (FCA).


For your information! Banks in this jurisdiction are divided into two types:

  1. retail – designed for both private and corporate clients (for example, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds);
  2. private – mainly for individuals only (for example, Coutts).


The first a priori are extremely reluctant to cooperate with foreign citizens. The latter are ready to open business accounts only as an additional service for a fee and under certain conditions. There is no direct ban on opening accounts for foreign citizens and companies for English banks. However, banks set very high formal requirements, and even if such conditions are met, they refuse foreign clients at the stage of preliminary consideration of the application.


Important! With all the difficulties, it is possible to open an account in England for a company owned by a non-resident (in particular, a citizen of Ukraine). Moreover, subject to a number of conditions, this can be done in one of the top retail banks in the country. The necessary actions for this are ready to be taken by representatives of the law firm JSC Lawrange, and if necessary, provide a business address, services of a nominee founder or director.



Restrictions on opening a bank account


On the one hand, Britain, like any other country, is interested in developing entrepreneurship and attracting foreign investment. Therefore, the authorities have created favorable conditions for the registration of companies, the opening of branches and representative offices by foreigners. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to open a local account for such business entities. Although there is no requirement for new companies in England to have a local account, from a practical point of view it is inconvenient to do business without one.


For your information! A British bank is almost 100% likely to refuse to open an account if:

  • the company is not registered in the United Kingdom;
  • the head of the company is a non-resident.


At the same time, the presence of a long-term visa or permanent residence in the UK can tip the scales in favor of a foreign investor. For the bank, you will have to document your residence in the country (presence of real estate, address of residence). Of course, before opening an account, you should ​​register a company in England.


When opening an English bank account, you must be prepared: a) for the absence of Russian-speaking staff; b) to the presence of a minimum balance requirement (for most banking institutions); c) to ensure the presence at the conclusion of a service agreement with the bank – a personal or his representative.



Account opening procedure


While opening a corporate account in the United Kingdom can be seen as a kind of quest, there are successful examples of achieving the goal. The main thing is to provide yourself with support of experienced experts in this area, such as representatives of the Lawrange law firm. The algorithm will be as follows:


  1. Verification of the identity of the head of the company – it is necessary to prove English residency or citizenship (for this, a passport with an appropriate mark of permanent residence or a British identity card is provided).
  2. Verification of the address of residence of the head of the company – it is necessary to prove residence in England, ownership of real estate or rental housing (utility bills in the corresponding name no older than three months or a lease agreement are suitable for this).
  3. Optionally, proof of trustworthiness: often we are talking about the fact that a person who wants to open an account for a company must already have a personal account opened with a banking institution in the country (which means that compliance has been passed).
  4. Confirmation of the reality of business – representatives of English banks strive to make sure that the company is functioning, profitable and has prospects for further development. This will ensure a constant turnover of funds in the account.
  5. Checking business reputation – the company should not appear in criminal cases, scandals and stories related to non-payment of taxes.
  6. Studying information about potential customers and partners – in particular, we are talking about the availability of accounts, incoming and outgoing payments.
  7. Face-to-face meeting with a bank representative – this meeting must be attended by the business owner or his representative. To control the situation at this meeting, a good knowledge of English is necessary.


*** Note: As a general rule, each director and each owner with a share of 10-15% in the authorized capital should visit a banking institution. At least this rule applies when it comes to reputable banks.


Important! The Lawrange JSC team will do everything necessary for you to successfully complete all the above steps: a) provide you with a business address to interact with the bank; b) fill out an application for opening a corporate account; c) prepare, and if necessary, translate into English, accompanying documents; d) prepare directors of the firm for negotiations with bankers. What’s more, our representatives can attend the meeting in person, increasing the likelihood of success.



Account Management


Already after opening an account, in the course of the company’s work, banks can periodically send requests to confirm the legality of those settlement operations that are being carried out. This does not indicate an increase in the level of distrust on the part of the bank, but a common practice for England. Although the risk of blocking also cannot be completely ruled out. Opening an account is usually half the battle. An equally difficult task is to competently manage this account in order to save time for all the time necessary for the work of the company.


Important! To reduce the risk of blocking a bank account in the United Kingdom, it is advisable to at least follow these recommendations;

  1. Be ready to provide, at the first request of bankers, documents relating to the receipt of funds to the account or payments from the account.
  2. Sometimes prepare and submit documents for a future transaction in advance.
  3. If necessary, be able to confirm the compliance of transactions with the intended purpose of the account.
  4. Do not use one account both for settlements with counterparties and for paying salaries to company employees.
  5. Respond quickly to bankers’ requests regarding the intended use of the account and in no case ignore them.


For your information! The reason for blocking an account is often negative information about the company on the network. The worst situation is when the organization is involved in a scandal. Banks are usually unwilling to risk their reputation – if a shadow hangs over it, they eliminate the cause without regret, that is, stop servicing a problem client.



Open an account in the UK: required documents


Often, the package of documentation that will be needed to open an account in a particular English bank can be generated based on the information on the institution’s web-chat. In particular, we are talking about the Term of Use section, the rules for using services. When opening an account, the client is offered to fill out a standard bank application form, which should indicate:

  • information about the company, owners and managers;
  • sources of cash receipts;
  • account currency;
  • estimated amount of income per month;
  • estimated number of transactions per month;
  • data on the countries where the counterparties are located, where and from where the funds will be received;
  • the expected maximum and minimum amount on the account.


For your information! In the course of preparing information for filling out the application form, it is advisable to consult with your accountant (as an option, we can provide such advice). If in the course of banking compliance discrepancies are found between the nature of the business and the financial indicators indicated by the client, problems may arise up to the refusal to open an account. You must understand: all the information you provide will be studied very carefully.


However, despite all the difficulties banks are interested in wealthy clients and promising business. Strict compliance procedures are a necessary measure to minimize risks (from reputational to loss of a license to provide banking services). Therefore, it is necessary to have a dialogue with bankers. Find out the nuances of service, commission rates, requirements, provide your documents and information about yourself, answering, if necessary, additional questions.


Below we provide an indicative list of documents for individuals (executives) and for a company that will be needed to open a bank account in the UK.



Individuals must provide:

  • passport holders and account manager;
  • confirmation of the English address (utility bills or rental agreement);
  • statement of a personal account in an English bank;
  • optionally – a social security number (National Insurance Number or NIN);
  • resume (CV).


Additionally, as part of the Know Your Customer rule, banks can request information about the status of bank accounts in those banking institutions where they are opened, confirmation of corporate rights, data on the composition of the family of the owner of the company.



Companies need to provide:

  • name and number in the register of companies – bank representatives will be able to find and check all the necessary information about the legal entity on the website of the registration chamber (Companies House);
  • copies of contracts and invoices with contractors in the UK;
  • confirmation of the presence of an operating office or production and an office in the country – that is, the so-called business address;
  • optionally – internal company documentation, AML policies and compliance regulations, ESG documents (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance);
  • if necessary, a certified power of attorney to open and manage an account.


***Note: Certificate of incorporation and articles of association may not be submitted in the documentation package, since the bank checks the company by the number in the register.


Important! All documents listed in the two lists must be in English. If the document is translated, then it should be notarized.



Open an account in England remotely: which bank to choose


The banking system of the United Kingdom is the largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. More than 300 banks operate in the country. Among the largest are Lloyds, NatWest, HSBC, Nationwide, Metro, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Santander, Barclays. These institutions have built up an extensive network of branches around the country, as well as representative offices abroad. Clients are offered high standards of service and modern services, including Internet banking.


All the banks mentioned above belong to the category of retail banks, that is, they are ready to work equally with both private clients and companies. Moreover, these institutions have many advantageous offers for corporate clients. For example, RBS and Metro banks offer a free service period and special accounting tools for entrepreneurs.


However, as we mentioned earlier, it is extremely difficult for a foreign-born firm to open a retail bank account. Most of all, banks such as HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays are loyal to foreign clients. However, they are also cautious, both when opening an account and in the course of its further use. For example, in the case of a large receipt on the account, bankers may show interest in the source of funds.


Consider the features of those banks that we most often recommend to customers.




Founded in Birmingham in 1765, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and absorbed a number of smaller banking institutions. It has an extensive network of branches in England and Wales, the total number of which is more than 2000. The bank offers current accounts, credit cards, deposits, investments, stock transactions, mortgages and other loans, insurance and private banking services.


A corporate account in this banking institution can be opened provided that at least one director of the company is a resident of Britain. At the same time, the requirements for opening an account may vary if the business is owned by a foreigner.




The largest financial conglomerate not only in the United Kingdom, but throughout the world, with offices in European countries, the USA and Asia. Founded in 1690 by London goldsmiths. Among the main activities – retail banking services, credit cards, banking services to companies. This all-in-one bank offers deposits and accounts, personal and commercial loans and investment solutions.


Compared to Lloyds, this bank is more loyal to legal entities run by foreigners. Even a company that does not have a governing body and among the owners of residents of the country can open an account with the English bank Barclays. However, accounts for such companies are issued at a bank branch on the Isle of Man.




Another conglomerate in the global banking market, whose network covers 63 countries and territories of the Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, North America and Latin America. The bank was founded in Hong Kong in 1865, the abbreviation of the name stands for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited. Today it is a British universal holding company providing banking and financial services.


The bank is ready to cooperate with firms managed by non-residents. Business owners can also be foreign citizens. However, to successfully open an account, one cannot do without a personal visit to the bank and full readiness to answer bankers’ questions.


Important! If the task is to open an account in England remotely, we recommend that customers pay attention not to traditional banking institutions, but to the so-called neo-banks and payment systems. How to open an account and use the necessary services in such institutions can be completely online. No visit to a physical branch is required, and you can still have a valid business account.


Among the most reputable neobanks and payment systems in the UK are Monzo, Monese, Wise and Revolut. If you are interested in some other institution, we are ready to discuss. Opening an account in a payment system is a good way to cover the following needs:

  1. for small businesses to fully establish work, making the necessary payments;
  2. for medium and large – to quickly start in a new country, providing for themselves a reserve of time to open an account in a “classic” bank;
  3. for all entrepreneurs to diversify the risks associated with the possibility of blocking an account (an account in a payment system is an excellent backup payment channel).



The cost of opening an account with JSC Lawrange


The amount of expenses that you will incur to open an English account for a company is influenced by such factors: a) in which bank you want to open an account; b) what set of services you need; c) whether you plan to order account management through us in the future. To find out more about the cost of opening an account, please contact us. To begin with, you will receive our commercial offer, and then you can consult with us.





Lawrange law firm provides a full range of necessary services for opening and managing corporate accounts in the UK. Despite the difficulties of communication with British banks, we achieve results.


To open an account in the Bank of England for a non-resident, we use business connections that have been established over the years. Our attorneys and lawyers will select the best option for a banking institution, prepare a package of documentation for it only with your minimal participation, and will negotiate with bankers. So that in the future you do not worry about the safety of your account and the possibility of making payments at any time, we are ready to take over the management of the account based on your instructions.





Can a non-resident open a UK bank account?

Yes. But there are a number of limitations that must be taken into account. English banks take foreign business with great caution. Therefore, the chances of opening an account without proper experience are close to zero.



Do I need to be present to open an account in England?

It depends on the bank where you will open an account. If you do not want or cannot come to England, we recommend that you consider opening an account in the British payment system or in a neobank.



How long will it take to complete the documents for opening an account in an English bank?

From a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The waiting time increases if banks request additional information and documents.