As a non-UK resident, you will face no obstacles when setting up your UK registered company. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about setting up a bank account for your company. There are no legal obligations to open a bank account for your company. However, please see; Why Your Company Needs a Bank account.
So if you do choose to open a bank account, what are your options?
Open an account with a UK high street bank:
At the time of writing Nat West Bank and HSBC are prepared to open accounts for UK companies controlled by non-UK residents. You will have to be able to satisfy their MLR requirements. However, both Banks’ requirement that applicants present ID documents in person at a branch in the UK is a draw-back. We would advise you to speak to the banks, even before forming a company, to confirm that you have adequate paperwork. For European clients, the cost of attending a meeting in the UK is relatively modest. Non-European clients may regard this option as too expensive.
Approach your existing bank:
If your bank has a branch or subsidiary in London, it may be able to help. Most large banks have a presence in London. Your bank will ask you to supply your company registration documents. The documents will almost certainly have to be Apostilled or legalised to be acceptable to the bank.
Approach a branch of an international bank, local to you:
If your bank does not have a presence in the UK, there may be other banks in your area that do. Approach them to see whether they can help.
Open an account with an online business banking services provider:
This is probably the least desirable solution; however it may be sufficient to get your business started. The following 3 providers deal with non-UK residents:
- Paypal – www.paypal.com
- Skrill (previously known as Moneybookers)- www.skrill.com
- Cashflows – WWW.Cashflows.com
All three companies offer merchant account facilities, Mastercard and, to some degree or other, banking facilities. They apply restrictions to the value and volume of transactions. You should familiarise yourself with their terms, in order to ensure that your business can cope with the restrictions. They can also be expensive when they deal with foreign currency matters.