How can I open a bank account online in the UK?

4 months ago   •   20 min read

By İlayda Birol

Are you an entrepreneur looking to grow your company by opening to the UK markets? Or are you a businessperson seeking to establish a new company in the UK? When it comes to opening a business bank account in the UK, you'll usually need to have a registered company first. Let's take a look at the first step: registering a UK company online.

It's possible to start a new company in the UK - registered with Companies House - from overseas relatively easily. Whether you already have a business, have just started a business or are a service provider like a freelance copywriter or videographer, for example, registering a UK company will make various elements of your business expansion easier and will save you money. You can launch a new UK company quite quickly in just a few clicks and papers. This does depend on whether you do the registration yourself which could potentially take longer and leaves more room for error, or use a service to do it for you. The wamo Company Formation service makes it possible to establish a business in the UK with a registered UK company and full-service business account within just 48 hours. For entrepreneurs this provides a quick and easy way to grow your business by breaking into the UK market.

How to check company name availability in the UK?
The first step in setting up a company in the UK is choosing a company name. Find all the details about choosing a company name on the wamo blog.

Now we'll come to the business account aspect of having and running a business in the UK. You'll need to have a business bank account in the UK in order to better manage your revenue streams and to easily handle monetary transactions. Using a good banking provider you'll be able to arrange recurring payments like standing orders and direct debits, make payments and withdraw cash. It's highly recommended that you have a business bank account in the UK if you own a company or work for yourself. Even though opening a basic business bank account isn't incredibly complicated or challenging, there are a few things you should know and keep in mind before you begin the application process.

If you're not prepared the online banking process can be time-consuming and even stressful. In this article, we will share with you all the information you'll need to have about opening a bank account online in the UK. You can also visit our website to come to understand the features that you'll be getting with a wamo business account and also to go ahead and apply online to get a quick and easy business account in the UK. It's worth noting that wamo is not an official bank and because of this it can provide more than a bank, be more flexible and streamlined in the registration process and function more like a partner in business with personalised customer service of a very high quality. At the same time, wamo provides the security and reliability that you would expect from the most popular banks.

What is a business bank account?

Opening and operating a business in the UK requires having a business bank account. What is a business bank account? Is a business bank account really different to a personal account? With a business bank account, it's the company, not the individual that holds the bank account. Depending on the kind of business you're running, business accounts are also referred to as corporate or company accounts.

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Why is it necessary to establish a business bank account ? Can't a personal account be used as a business bank account? It's best to avoid mixing your personal and business finances, especially when your business starts to grow. But really from the very beginning it will make a difference not just to how you can manage your finances but also to how professional you feel and how your business comes across to others. In general it's highly recommended that you open a separate business bank account. Using your personal account for business could especially cause issues later on when it comes to things like filing your taxes or reclaiming money if something goes wrong with one of your company's clients or suppliers.

Some important advantages of setting up a separate bank account for your business are:

The capacity to utilise money more effectively since it will be more simple to track it

Better control over firm finances because only those with senior management's permission can access it

Gains that may be made thanks to tax benefits

Open a bank account online in the UK

In order to open a bank account online in the UK with a regular bank, you'll first need to fill out a "Business Banking Application Form". When you open an account with wamo, this takes the form of a registration process where you will provide a few details related to your business like your name, address, and passport details and company details - and you'll do this using the wamo app on your smartphone or the wamo web app on your desktop.

Applying for a business account can be done by anyone authorised to register on behalf of the company but bear in mind that, with wamo as anywhere, whoever registers the account will be the main account holder with full control over all sub-accounts and connected cards.

If you are looking at opening a business account with one of the traditional high street banks in the UK like Lloyds Bank, Natwest or Barclays the procedure for opening a business account will be different. You may need to be physically present at a branch of the bank at some point in your registration process, you may need a deposit in order to open the account and you're likely to need to gather more documents than you would when opening an account with wamo or a similar financial management platform.

Let's look at the different types of banks and alternative banking providers you can choose from when looking to open a business bank account for your UK registered company. The most popular to choose between are high-street and online or digital-only banks. We'll look at the most important and distinctive features between them.

High-Street vs. Online Banks

High-street banks mightvbe a preference if you intend to be present in the UK or have employees based there as they generally have lots of branches. This means that you can visit them in order to deal with financial matters or to discuss issues related to your account. On the other hand, choosing an online bank means that it's possible to do absolutely everything related to your business finances online, from opening your account onwards. This is a big advantage if you are based overseas. Online banks and alternative service providers like wamo are designed to allow you to operate and manage business finances remotely. These institutions offer services similar to the traditional benefits of high-street (traditional) banks but they also have many innovative services to make your work easier.

One of the most specific features distinguishing online banks from traditional banks is around the issue of UK resident status. High-street banks only accept non-residents who make substantial investments or who are planning to relocate to the UK. These banks will need to see confirmation of UK residency.

Some online banks have the ability to offer a virtual address for your UK business which can be used to open your business bank account online. At wamo, our virtual address service, that goes hand in hand with our company formation service means that you don't need to travel or reside in the UK to register a company and open an online bank account if you are a foreign investor. These days online banking makes it possible for just about anyone anywhere to have access to a business account thanks to huge advancements in finance technology (fintech) - this is what makes a platform like wamo so well-suited to supporting business growth.

Online banks on the other hand don't have any physical branches, which means that while they might provide a smaller selection of services than high-street banks, the services they do provide are usually at a much lower cost and come with the benefit of an easy-to-use web or mobile app interface. Most high street banks will also offer a banking app or online platform but as they are not digital-first services, these don't tend to be as innovative and easy to use as digital-first online banks. With wamo's secure mobile app and web app, it's possible to do everything you need to do to manage your finances easily. View and manage your account and sub-accounts and all team member accounts safely. So when it comes to opening a bank account online in the UK, going with a digital-first bank account is probably your best bet. And alternative service providers like wamo, while not being a bank account officially, will provide you with all the advantages of a digital-first bank account, and so much more.

What about other online bank accounts for opening a bank account online in the UK?

The two online banks that may approve your application if you wish to create a UK bank account without providing proof of a UK address are Monese and Revolut. However, note that both of these business banks will demand confirmation of residency in one of the European Union countries or The European Economic Area in order to open an account with them. You are also likely to have to pass a credit check when applying to this kind of online bank - and the same goes for applying to open a bank account in the UK with a traditonal bank.

There is a third option besides these two bank types, and that is online multi-currency accounts. These are not offered by conventional banks in the UK but rather by fintech firms officially known as Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs), and the fierce competition between EMIs means that they are often able to provide the most affordable methods of international money transfers.

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The documents you need to open a business bank account online in the UK

Whichever business bank account type you choose there are certain documents that you'll need to have in order to successfully open a business bank account online in the UK. Some providers will ask for more documents than others but in any case it's recommended that you have the following documents ready:

Passport- both the original and an authorised copy

  • Proof of address
  • Proof of income- contract or salary slips
  • Evidence of capital- including a business plan, financial documents, and information about any loan or grant applications you or your company may have made.
  • Bank statements which demonstrate an active account covering the last three months

Before creating a business bank account, check you know these 3 things :

  • the characteristics of a business bank account.
  • an understanding of the fees associated with utilising the bank account online.
  • whether you would qualify for an account if you are a non-resident.

Bank account types available in the UK

In the UK, there are many other kinds of accounts, but the two that most people refer to as "bank accounts" are as follows:

Current account

Current accounts are also known as "checking accounts" in the USA. Despite the fact that innovative technology provided by more recent start-ups and fintech firms has changed many aspects of banking, the basics of current accounts have remained unchanged. Generally when you open a business bank account online in the UK, it will be a current account type.

With most business current accounts you'll be able to pay employee salaries, receive and make payments by debit and credit card, manage daily expenses, and arrange direct debits. Current accounts usually include an overdraft facility and a debit card, of course it's now possible to add your debit card to your digital wallet in order to pay digitally using your current account card. Current accounts no longer come with chequebooks by default, although with some banks it's still possible to request them.

Do take care to understand the fees involved in using your account's overdraft facility. It's possible to end up paying high interest fees if you frequently find that the account is in the red. An arranged overdraft is one where you and your bank have agreed on an arranged overdraft limit. It's crucial to understand that utilising it could result in interest charges.

If, however, you become overdrawn by merely a few hundred pounds, a few banks will supply you with inexpensive or even interest free arranged overdraft.

Savings account

A business savings account is a type of bank account that allows you to save company money, as the name implies. The typical reason for doing this is to earn interest on the money to increase its value over time. Some current accounts do, however, also pay interest on balances to a predetermined level.

Many large banks, building societies, and other organisations provide a selection of savings accounts for businesses and they do tend to ofer better interest rates than current accounts. The amount of money you'll make on each account's balance over a year is determined by the interest rate.

Both current accounts and savings accounts may have credit interest. Choose the one with the most suitable credit interest cost when you are choosing your business bank account provider.

How long does it take to open a bank account online?

Opening a basic business bank account online in the UK from somewhere else can take between 4 weeks and three months. But it very much depends on the kind of business you have, the bank account that you are after and where you are applying from.

If you choose to open a business bank account in the UK with an online bank or to open a business account with a digital service provider like wamo, it will generally take much less time and require much less effort on your behalf. With wamo you can have a business account and a UK registered company up and running within 48 hours. Registering for your business account in the UK using the wamo app or web app takes just 10 minutes! It is really simple to incorporate a company and obtain a business account using a more innovative service provider like wamo.

If you do choose to open your business account with wamo rather than going for the more traditional bank account options with other online banks, you'll be pleased to know that we'll only ask for the absolutely necessary documents and details. In this way we are able to streamline the process and get you ready for business in the UK faster. You'll simply need to provide a few necessary personal and company details and submit some standard business documents to create an account with us. There'll be no need to worry about any additional or unnecessary paperwork.

Why is a business bank account required in the UK?

In the UK, having a business bank account is essential whether you are self-employed or managing a corporation. Some small and micro business owners attempt to operate their companies through their personal bank accounts. However, this can provide challenges for various reasons, not the least of which are tax considerations! It's a good idea to have a company bank account to be able to perform a variety of business banking activities, including:

transferring money from your personal to your corporate account.

paying both your employees and your suppliers from the same account.

Let's look at the differences between personal and business bank accounts.

Personal bank accounts vs business bank accounts

The obvious point first: while a business bank account is used for business, a personal bank account is used for individual usage. Having separate accounts makes it easier to manage your money (both personal and business) and shields your private assets from liabilities.

A personal bank account is a straightforward current account that used for daily purchases and payments. A personal account is accessible from anywhere and allows for online bill payment. Even without a card, you can continue to perform tasks using your personal current account.

Personal current accounts are generally more flexible than corporate ones; in contrast, most organisations have strict policies about what their employees can do with their money.

By keeping your personal bank account and your business bank account separate it will be easier to keep a record of all transactions - this will be particularly useful when it comes to dealing with tax. When you're able to effortlessly see your business finances separate to your personal finances, you'll be better able to budget effectively, and to stay on top of the amount of money coming into and leaving your business at any given time.

By keeping your personal and corporate assets separate, in the event that your company is ever sued, your personal assets won't be considered as part of the business. It will also make it easier to protect your company's assets against any prospective lawsuits that can be brought against you.

Tax laws handle personal and business banking differently, which is one of the reasons you should keep them apart. An organisation is considered a partnership or a sole proprietorship if it has a business bank account. This implies that you must file a personal revenue tax return to report any company revenue. The price of supplies and materials, interest charged on loans used for operational expenditures, depreciation on equipment, and the majority of other expenses related to running a business, including travel costs, can all be deducted from this revenue.

Why should you choose to open an online bank account in the UK with wamo?

The features and services that wamo offers business owners and entrepreneurs, makes it perfect for opening an online bank account in the UK. No matter where you live in the world, we've creating a business account and company formation service that makes registering an online business account in the UK simple. Within 24 hours of registering, and with all being well, you can have a fully functional business account up and running.

Registration takes just 10 minutes. Opening an account with us eliminates the need for pointless paperwork and time-consuming processes. A major advantage is that it's possible to open a UK business account with wamo without ever travelling to the UK.

With a wamo business account, you can open multiple sub-accounts and for each sub-account choose either a EUR or GB IBAN. For every account and sub-account you are also able to order up to 10 physical Visa debit cards and create up to 10 virtual Visa debit cards linked to each account which can each be managed and budgeted for separately.

Who can open an online business bank account in the UK with wamo?

If you have established a company in the UK, you will need to open a bank account for your business. As we've seen there's a lot to be gained from having a business bank account that suits your business structure and company type.

It's not just businesses that can benefit from having a business bank account, if you're an independent contractor of any kind all of the same advantages to having a separate business bank account apply. For example, if you work as a freelancer with UK companies or provide any sort of service to UK companies from abroad, it's well worth considering registering a UK business through our company formation service and setting yourself up with a business account in order to make managing things like international billing and expenditure easier and cheaper! Once you have your wamo business account set up you can open sub-accounts in both Pounds and Euros in order to really get the most out of the fees you charge for your work.

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A business bank account is also advantageous for content producers who are contracted to work by UK or EU firms and agencies. If you're a content creator residing in a foreign country, you can work for companies or brands in the UK with confidence as you'll be able to take payments into your EUR or GBP IBAN account without any account fees or needless formalities.

If you open a limited liability company, or if you have a limited liability company already, it's much easier to get a UK business bank account online. Use wamo's company formation service to register a UK company if you don't have one registered already to make local and international payments much simpler to keep track of. You'll also have a Visa debit card that can be used anywhere.

How to open an online business bank account as a non-resident in the UK

You may be asking if foreign businesspeople who are not UK citizens can benefit from having a business bank account from and online bank or alternative provider like wamo. The answer is, yes! As a foreign entrepreneur, there are many business benefits to be gained by opening an online business account with us.

There are no legal restrictions for foreigners opening companies in the UK with an online bank account. Although for non-residents the procedure can be a little more complicated than it is for UK nationals.

Due to the solid anti-money laundering legislation, many banks now require that account holders reside in the UK. Because of this, only some banks accept applications from third parties. This means that your best bet is to use a digital business formation agency like wamo.

At wamo we have just one requirement for non-residents: register your corporate entity to Companies House. And we will do that for you too! To open a business account online with wamo all you need is a registered UK business account and a business account can be yours regardless of where you reside.

Opening an online bank account for a registered UK company

Wherever you and your business are based, we've made it possible to expand your business into the appealing UK market in just 48 hours and to have a smart business account that makes managing everything to do with your business finances easy.

By opening an online bank account with us, you can start doing business beyond your local borders within days. And you can enjoy top-level features matching the best business bank account offering and so much more. Get multiple accounts and make and take payments in multiple currencies. Our virtual and physical Visa debit cards are great for managing team budgets and finances and, of course, you'll have the ability to send money via SEPA and SWIFT and Faster Payments.

4 steps to create an online business bank account with wamo

Opening an online bank account in the UK with us is extremely easy. All you have to do is follow these four steps.

Go to the wamo website or download the app from Google Play or the App Store and start your registration process by filling in your business email.

You'll then fill in basic details about your company, including business type, corporate name, and registration address.

As far as your security goes, you are in very safe hands with a wamo business account. When you provide your proof of identity our innovative technology is able to instantly recognise your ID and corporation, so we can get you validated and ready to start immediately.

After providing all the necessary information, you get to pick your chosen account subscription type. The entire registration process takes about 10 minutes.

Sub-accounts with different currencies

If you've owned a business for a time, you undoubtedly already know how challenging it can be to oversee different activities from the same account. Our sub-account feature will help you to plan your business budgets, manage revenue streams, oversee team accounts and spending, schedule payments from multiple accounts and much, much more.

For each sub-account you create for customers, goods, marketing campaigns, and anything else you choose, the platform allows you to select a EUR or GBP IBAN. To handle team finances it is very useful to be able to create sub-accounts for each employee.

Sub-accounts are more effective than multi-currency accounts, bu they are similar. The cost of making them is nothing. Since each sub-account may be used for a product or campaign, you can keep it distinct from your primary account and secure. Additionally, connect your cards to sub-accounts to further boost the security of your primary account.

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You need an IBAN number to manage main and sub accounts. If you want to know what the IBAN number is and how to get it, let us explain below.

What is a UK IBAN?

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. IBANs are used to expedite international transfers of funds and to guarantee that the proper account receives them.

A UK IBAN contains 22 characters made up of:

  • 2 letters that indicate the ISO country code
  • 2 check digits
  • 4 characters making up the SWIFT/BIC code
  • a 6 digit sort code
  • an 8 digit account number

Before the creation of the IBAN, we had to find out every recipient's bank, branch, and account number in addition to the SWIFT code. With an IBAN, however, all you need to do to transfer money to an t account is to know a single BAN.

Get a UK IBAN with wamo

Compared to the effort and time it can take open a business bank account with a traditional bank and many online banks in the UK, a wamo account can be opened surprisingly quickly and easily, this is good news especially if you're a non-resident wanting to open an online business account in the UK. With just a few bits of information ready, you can register for a wamo business account in just 10 minutes. If everything is in order with your applicatio, your wamo business account can be checked and verified in as little as an hour.

Your ID and company registration number are required to register to wamo. Each director's identification card and UBO are necessary to register a corporation.

To verify your identity for your protection, you'll be required to provide personal and professional information, record a short video using your smartphone and scan your ID.

Once you've spent the 10 minutes it takes to open your wamo online business account and after we've verified your application, we suggest immediately creating a sub-account to produce your UK IBAN if you chose a EUR IBAN for your main account and vice versa. Creating sub-accounts is free and can be done easily in a minute.

Each sub-account is a complete account in its own right. You can order physical Visa debit cards and create virtual Visa debit cards that can be linked to every sub-account you create. You can, of course, use your UK IBAN to send and receive payments in British pounds.

How much does it cost to open an online business account in the UK with wamo?

You'll pay just €99 when you use wamo's company formation service to create a UK registered company (registered with Companies House). This fee includes a virtual London office address should you need one and it also includes a 3 months subscription-free wamo business account!

Be sure to take a look at our subscription plans carefully before deciding which one will suit your business best. It's important to evaluate the payment plans offered by any provider of business bank accounts.

At wamo we offer three subscription plans: Start, Grow, and Scale. Start is recommended for micro and small businesses at a cost €19.99 per month. The Grow plan has a monthly fee of€49.99 and is perfect for growing or small-to-medium-sized businesses. Note that with the Grow plan you'll get free physical and virtual cards and free local payments, which alone could save you the cost of the plan from the outset, depending on how your business operates. The Scale plan is recommended for large businesses and has a fee of €99.99 per month. By selecting the most suitable plan for your business needs, you'll be able to save both time and money as you expand your business into the UK market.

Open your online business account in the UK in just ten minutes,

If you're searching for a quick, safe online bank account for your UK company and you're a non-resident, why not give wamo a try ? Maybe it's time to explore beyond the traditional bank account that you've become familiar with? As financial service providers built to be digital first and with a focus on making business banking as easy as possible for every business owner, your everyday business finances will just get easier. old account and meet innovative business bank accounts. Everyday banking becomes easier with us. Our values are built on forming a partnership with you and your business, one based on trust and a quality of customer service that makes not just every transaction but also every interaction with us a positive experience that saves you time and money and makes sure you feel secure.

No matter where you live, wamo makes registering an online bank account in the UK simple. Apply online, and within 24 hours of registering, you could have a fully functional business account up and running. We look forward to helping you start and grow your business in the UK and beyond.


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