While it’s easy for a non-UK resident to register a limited company in the UK, opening a business bank account is a little more complicated. It is not a legal requirement to have a separate bank account for your limited company but it is an absolute necessity from a practical standpoint – without a business bank account, it will become increasingly challenging to manage your accounting records and distinguish your personal finances from your company’s finances. It’s far easier to avoid accounting errors than it is to rectify them.
There are a couple of feasible options for non-UK residents: you may be eligible for a business bank account in the UK from Lloyds Bank or Barclays International; or you could open an overseas bank account by having your company formation documents legalized.
Business bank accounts from Lloyds and Barclays International
Banks conduct routine credit checks on all business bank account applicants to verify their suitability. These checks require photographic ID and proof of a UK address, both of which must be presented in person. Lloyds Bank may allow you to open an account if at least one of the account signatories lives in the UK. Barclays International may offer you an account if you can provide an initial security deposit.
- Lloyds Bank
Suitable for limited companies with at least one UK-resident director. Applications can be made online or by telephone. The UK director must present photographic ID and proof-of-address documentation in a Lloyds branch. Overseas company owners and account signatories must send copies of their photographic ID and proof-of-address documents.
Suitable for limited companies registered in the UK with all non-UK resident shareholders and directors. To satisfy the requirements of the bank, the shareholders of the company must travel to the UK to meet with an HSBC representative.
- Barclays International
Suitable for companies with no UK-resident directors or shareholders. Applications must be made through Barclays International in the Isle of Man. In most cases, a deposit of £10,000 is required for the first month after account activation.
Legalising company documents for a non-UK bank account
UK public documents can be legalised by a UK public official to confirm their authenticity for official use in any county that is party to the 1961 Hague Convention. Once legalised, an Apostille Certificate will be issued to prove the genuineness of each document.
If you wish to open a business bank account in your country of residence, you will have to obtain an Apostille for your Certificate of Incorporation and the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Overseas banks and authorities will require these certificates as evidence of the legal existence of your UK company.
You can get these documents legalised by a Notary (ie a qualified lawyer specialising in Notarial Practice) who will sign your company documents and liaise with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to obtain the Apostille Certificates. Alternatively, you can apply online through the Legislation Office.