Banking for Expatriates in the UK
Moving to a new country can be an upheaval and so it makes sense to try and make the move as hassle-free as possible. For most, keeping your finances in check is at the top of the list of priorities. It would be reassuring to know that once you have arrived in the UK you could check your bank balance, or transfer money between accounts in an instant and pay bills quite possibly in different currencies.
When coming to the UK there are a host of banking options to consider, for example, whether the impatriate’s requirements are for an onshore or an offshore bank account. It makes sense to select a banking service that suits your personal circumstances; from traditional current accounts, which come with a cheque book and debit card, to deposit interest-earning accounts, currency accounts and longer-term savings options. You can opt for accounts that are free from a standard account charge but will carry charges should you go overdrawn or exceed an agreed overdraft facility. If you have a healthy balance, then look for a current account that pays interest on credit balances. Such accounts were historically few and far between but the competition in this area has intensified in recent years. There are also regular saver accounts, which pay a competitive rate of interest so long as you pay in a minimum amount each month – although there is normally a cap on the amount you can deposit each year.
We live in the internet age and many people today think nothing of logging onto their computer to carry out their day-to-day banking functions. Email and mobile phones are symptomatic of the way we live today in a fast-paced world that barely seems to pause for breath. Customers value the ‘anytime, anywhere’ control that it gives them over their banking. While many people still choose to bank in branch, online banking offers customers the chance to manage their money from the comfort of their home, work, or even on the move via a smartphone. Customers can set up, change and cancel payments, whether individual or regular, transfer money between their accounts and in some cases analyse their spending.
There have been numerous tales of internet banking fraud but British banks have embraced state of the art technology to help reduce the risk of online fraud – and it is working. Fraud losses on UK cards totalled £388 million in 2012. Compared to 2008 losses of £610 million when fraud was at its peak, this represents an overall decrease of 36%. Efforts by the cards industry to enhance the security of payment systems delivered substantial falls since fraud peaked in 2008. In most cases, banks provide customers with a free card reader which helps confound fraudsters and protect customers’ accounts. It is simple to use allowing customers to securely access their account online and complete payment transactions.
Despite the increasing take-up of online banking services some of you will still want to pop into a local branch and talk to a member of staff so it might be worth checking whether the bank of your choice has a branch in the town or city where you are planning to live. For a more personal experience a number of banks will offer, subject to eligibility, a Relationship Manager or a team dedicated to them. Customers will have the comfort of having a single point of contact and have the opportunity to build a relationship with someone who understands their needs.
Getting a bank account up and running as quickly as possible is likely to be a priority for many. For starters, you will want to have the convenience of being able to pay for goods and services with a credit or debit card in a local currency, as well as being able to withdraw cash. If you are coming to the UK to work, you will want to arrange for your salary to be paid in to the new account too.
Opening an account will require you to pass certain due diligence requirements. UK banks will generally require new customers, both domestic and foreign, to provide specific documents that verify their UK address in addition to documents that verify their identity.
Having a passport and driving licence are standard proof of ID, but proof of address can cause problems as many will not yet have a permanent place to live upon arrival in to the UK. Even if this is not the case, you are unlikely to have any utility bills to speak of straight away, as these are often sent every three months. There are a number of banks that work with Corporate Employers to assist employees with these types of issues when relocating to the UK.
People moving to the UK are unlikely to leave their old life behind completely. For many it may be a temporary assignment with continuing financial commitments in their country of origin, such as bills to pay. A multi-currency account can provide you with the option to keep your income in the currency needed to accommodate your financial commitments - and possibly earn interest in one place too.
Likewise, paying a bill in a different currency is generally not a problem as long as the account can support multiple currencies. Paying a bill in the correct currency could avoid transaction fees and fluctuating exchange rates. For expats intending to stay in the UK for longer, the relationship with a UK bank can be more than just a bank account. You may want a credit card or a mortgage or somewhere to save and invest your capital in over the longer-term.
Moving to a new country will be a time of great excitement and you will want to take it all in. It would be a shame if problems with routine matters such as paying bills and transferring money detracted from the experience. It makes sense for people who are moving to the UK to start to consider their banking needs in the weeks before their arrival. With foresight and a little planning a bank account can be opened before you land on British soil.
Provided by Natwest Global Employee Banking, and published in The 2017 Expatriate's Guide to Living in the UK.
SOME UK BANKING QUICK FACTS
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom. Sometimes known as the ‘Old Lady' of Threadneedle Street, the Bank was founded in 1694, nationalised on 1st March 1946 and gained independence in 1997. Standing at the centre of the UK 's financial system, the Bank is committed to promoting and maintaining monetary and financial stability as its contribution to a healthy economy.
You can find out more about the Bank of England by visiting the official website: www.bankofengland.co.uk
Other useful links:
www.direct.gov.uk gives the latest and widest range of public service information from the UK government, including banking.
www.fsa.gov.uk The Financial Services Authority, an independent body that regulates the financial services industry in the UK.
DesignTec CMS Bongo ® 2017 © Website Design