Opening a business bank account is a crucial step for new business owners, providing a clear separation between personal and business finances. My guide will walk you through the essential steps and documents needed to set up your account.

>>Or read our full article on Choosing the Best Business Bank Accounts

How to Open a Business Bank Account in the UK

Opening a Business Bank Account in 7 Steps

Step 1: Choose the Right Bank

Compare a range of business bank accounts, considering factors like banking fees, services offered, online banking capabilities, and customer service reputation. Research both high street and challenger banks to find the best fit for your business.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Documentation

Prepare all required documents for all directors, substantial shareholders, and any other parties involved. This includes proof of identity (e.g., valid passport or driving licence) and proof of UK address (e.g., utility bills, mortgage statement).

Step 3: Identify Account Operators and Officials

Ensure you have the details of all account operators, company officials, responsible individuals, and, if applicable, trustees or key officials who will be associated with the bank account.

Step 4: Apply for the Account

This can often be done online, in person at a bank branch, or over the phone, depending on the bank’s processes. Ensure all information provided is accurate and complete to avoid delays.

Step 5: Fund Your Account and Start Using It

Once your account is open, make an initial deposit if required. You can then start using your account for business transactions, set up online banking, and utilise additional banking services as needed.

What You Need to Open a Bank Account for Your Business

As a minimum, all business banks will require photographic identification and proof of address for all directors and any substantial shareholders.

While conditions can be simpler for challenger banks, most high street banks will also require you to provide additional documentation to verify the identity and address of those involved in the management of the business.

Here’s what you need to prepare:

Proof of ID documents

Choose one from the following documents for each individual:

  • Valid UK/EEA/Switzerland passport
  • Valid UK full/provisional photocard driving licence
  • Valid EU member state national ID photocard
  • Valid firearms certificate or shotgun licence

Proof of UK Address

Choose two from the following documents for each individual:

  • Current UK full/provisional photocard driving licence
  • Council Tax bill (current financial year or last 3 months)
  • Bank/building society/credit union statement (last 3 months)
  • Credit card statement (last 3 months)
  • HMRC documentation (last 3 months or current tax year)
  • Benefits Agency/local authority notification (last 12 months)
  • Current tenancy agreement
  • Mortgage statement (last 12 months)
  • Life insurance policy (last 3 months)
  • Motor insurance certificate (current year)
  • Utility bill (last 3 months)
  • TV Licence letter or Direct Debit schedule (last 12 months)

Business verification documents

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • If using a ‘trading as’ name, a company board resolution authorising its use may be required.

Please ensure all documents are original, in-date, undamaged, and clearly show the necessary information. This preparation will facilitate a smooth process in opening your business bank account, aligning with your intent to efficiently manage your business’s financial transactions.

How Long Does it Take to Open a Business Bank Account

It typically takes about 10 working days to set up a business bank account, on average. Some providers who don’t require credit checks can get you up and running much more quickly. While others may take closer to a fortnight.

Some online providers are boasting three minutes to get your account opened but there are still identity checks to complete and bank cards to issue, in most cases, before the bank account is fully operational.

How to Open a Business Bank Account as a Non-Uk Resident

It is more complicated to open a business bank account as a Non-UK resident, since UK regulators impose strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, one of which is a verifiable UK address. There are, however, specific providers – commonly digital-first banks – who allow those living abroad to open UK accounts. They will typically require:

  • a valid passport from your country of residence;
  • a proof of address in the country where you live.
  • Proof of Business Address

Non resident accounts typically ask for

  • a substantial deposit
  • monthly fee commitment

How to set up a business account in the UK

StepWhat to DoWhat You Need
1Pick the Account TypeDecide if you need a current, savings, or merchant account based on your business activities.
2Find the Best BankLook at fees, services, and whether you want an online bank or a traditional one.
3Get Your Documents ReadyPrepare ID and address proof for all directors and shareholders with significant control.
4Know Who Needs to Provide InformationIdentify all individuals who will operate or have significant control over the account.
5Apply for the AccountComplete the application through the bank’s website, by phone, or in person.
6Wait for ApprovalIt can take from a few minutes to several days, depending on the bank and your documents.
7Start Using Your AccountOnce approved, make your initial deposit if required, and begin managing your business finances.

FAQs on How to Open a Business Bank Account in the UK

Can I open a UK business bank account online?

Do I need a UK address to open a business bank account?

Can I have multiple business bank accounts for the same business in the UK?

Do I need a business bank account for a sole proprietorship in the UK?

How do banks verify my business information?

What if my business is not yet registered with Companies House?

Can I open a business bank account in the UK from abroad?