Bitterwallet's How To... open a UK bank account for foreign nationals

3 December 2010

Bitterwallet - how to open a bank account for a foreign nationalDo you find yourself or any of your loved ones in one or more of the following categories?

• Not born in UK
• Not lived in UK for a while
• Never had a bank account in the UK
• Desperado on the run from the law
• Just arrived in UK

As a result, have you found it difficult or impossible to open a current account with a UK bank? The answer is probably, so please read on.

My wife, then girlfriend (as luckily for her, she was not born into predestined matrimonial slavery) comes from an EU country other than the UK. She’d lived in the UK before and held a UK bank account but then moved back to her native land. Several years later, she succumbed to my not insignificant charms and moved over to this fine and frosty land to live with me.

This is relevant because her previous UK bank account had been closed, and she needed to open up a new one for her new job. (To pre-empt the inevitable comments, no – she is not in the ‘cash/cock in hand’ business).

She was rejected by numerous UK banks because of lack of credit history and previous addresses in the UK. No amount of explaining helped and the best she was offered was the type of bank account reserved for 12 year-olds and those otherwise thought to be criminally liable with money – i.e. no debit card, no current account, no overdraft, etc.

After weeks of frustration, I spoke to my bank (a well-known UK name) to explain the situation and asked what options were open to me. They quietly suggested a cheeky, yet completely legal method of bypassing the frustration and endless trips to branches/phone calls. It does rely on having someone the person trusts and who has an existing UK bank account that hasn’t been trodden into the dirt, so bear that in mind.

Here’s what I was told to do, and it worked like a charm:

Open a new current account in your own name, sailing through all the credit checks. After this has been set up, file a “sole to joint” application with the bank, converting the sole account into a joint account in your and the other person’s name. This bypasses the usual credit checks as it takes yours into consideration. This should also sail past.

Person B then gets issued with a debit card, cheque book, overdraft, etc. You then hide/destroy the debit card/cheque book in your name, effectively meaning that the account is still joint, but run by the other person. After they’ve run the account for a while, you can convert from a joint to sole account, but this time, a sole account in person B’s name ONLY, wiping you out of the picture.

Job done. Clearly, this does involve trust, but if the situation is right, it works like a dream and saves a lot of hassle in the process.

TOPICS:   Banking

22 comments

  • rappy
    thanx for that illegal immigrant tip
  • Jaikel K.
    Gerrouta my country!
  • stiff b.
    DEY TURRRRRK UR JERRRBBBB!
  • Smileyvirus
    Doing this will screw your credit rating if they bugger the account before you un-joint it.
  • Rappy D.
    illegal? Did you not read the article? "comes from an EU country". How can a EU resident be illegal? Tit
  • Rappy D.
    illegal? Did you not read the article? "comes from an EU country". How can a EU resident be illegal?
  • james d.
    My girlfriend is swedish and did't have any trouble. She did open an international student account though, maybe that's easier. She has a proper debit card but doesn't have any overdraft facility.
  • kv
    DUUURKA DURRRR!
  • internet s.
    @James Are Swedish brides cheaper than the Russian or Thai varieties?
  • james d.
    No they are quite expensive, she keeps spending all my money, ;) I'm actually quite pleased she can't have an overdraft. Na seriously she's not so bad anymore, we managed to buy a house last week.
  • kiwi8mail
    When I got here in 2002, the banks gave the need to avoid money laundering as one of the reasons why they were so cautious about letting foreigners open bank accounts with inadequate documentation. Fortunately I discovered that a certain major bank had a special branch in London for Australians/New Zealanders, who were *slightly* flexible on the criteria. I went to them, but not before also considering the use of a number of agencies (who now don't seem to be so prominent) who would have these semi-dodgy arrangements, where they would provide you with a temporary UK mailing address and a "letter of introduction" or some such nonsense, which you would then take to a designated bank branch. Cost was about £45 I seem to recall...
  • MR C.
    @james. Yes - the student thing does make things easier. I should have put that at the top.. "...and are not a student". Banks love students, because they rack up colossal debts and then have to stay with that bank to pay them off. @rappy. err.... yeah, great comment. @smileyvirus. yes, obviously, hence the comment about trust. I wasn't suggesting you hang out in Dover with an A-Board.
  • The M.
    Foreigners? Tips for Foreigners? How dare they come over here, steal my job and sleep with my wife, and they won the world cup pitch too! Pulse racing, arm numb, heart hurting *passes out*.
  • rappy
    @rappy dappy doo, you fucking tit im on about an illegal immigrant using it you fuck wit
  • JJ
    @James You bought a house just as prices are about to dip even further this coming year? Muppet
  • Nobby
    Do banks like FOREIGN students though? I didn't think they got very good overdraft facilities, since they can run up overdrafts in the UK then go back home, never to return to the UK.
  • bob
    When I came back to the UK (lived in australia for 5 years) all the banks i tried wouldn't give me an account except Halifax. Also, my ex had no issues opening a basic Visa Electron Halifax account while a lot of other banks refused to give her an account. She's German btw. International/EU student accounts are ridiculous, some of them require you to deposit £5k just to open an account! Ok for those students with stupidly wealthy parents, but for your average international/EU student (who already gets no student loan) this is not possible. So yeah, I'd recommend going to Halifax before going the solo/joint/solo route.
  • Rappy D.
    Sure thing, bruv. Do we ban trains too, in case an "illegal immigrant" uses them? Lackwit.
  • ngih t.
    If the damn Severn bridge would start taking cards I could almost do away with cash altogether
  • james d.
    JJ, where did you get your crystal ball? Besides, owning a house isn't just about making a profit when you come to sell it.
  • AlQuedaBinLaden
    im so proud of my son, for what hes accomplished over the years as a young bussines man he has bombed many people also helped many people who have sufferd in debt please stop searching now you mother fuckers overwise ill bang ya all
  • Bank |.
    [...] Bitterwallet’s How To… open a UK bank account for foreign nationals – As a result, have you found it difficult or impossible to open a current account with a UK bank? The answer is probably, so please read on. My wife, then girlfriend (as luckily for her, she was not born into predestined matrimonial slavery) comes from an … [...]

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