Financial FAQs

On this Page: How do I open a UK Bank Account? | What do I need to do when I start working? | What do I need to know about the UK tax system?

Image of a Bank

How do I go about opening a UK Bank Account?

Traditional banks with branches

To open an account in the UK you should take your: passport, your last three bank statements from your current account (from your home country) and a letter from your landlord stating your UK address. Opening a UK bank account in person is free, but it is likely to be time consuming.

If you don’t have a UK address, some banks (Barclays, Halifax, TSB) will let you open a basic account (i.e. with just a cashcard and no credit card) with a passport. You can then upgrade this to a full account once you’ve found a place to live. NB unfortunately there is little consistency in UK bank policies. Every branch seems to have different rules so it’s worth trying a few. Some also require proof of visa and/or proof of employment.

If you have a friend who lives in the UK, the other option is to change your contact address at your bank in your home country to your friend’s UK address. You will need to do this a few months before you leave and print out bank statements from your friends’s address to take into a UK bank.

If this sounds too hard, you can use a company like Britbound to do it for you. Our partner, Bite Consulting, also offers free bank account set up to those who use their job search services or career coaching

Online banks

There are now some great new app based banks which allow you to get set up with just a passport and visa. Some of these also allow you to hold money in several currencies. The most popular ones are:-

Revolut – banking app that allows you to hold and spend money in up to 130 currencies

Monzo – UK banking app with budgeting tools and free payments abroad

Transferwise Borderless – free multicurrency account with low money transfer fees

Monese – let you open an account with just a BRP and passport

What do I need to do when I start working?

Once you have a job, you will need your bank account and a National Insurance number – see details below.

If you’re not looking for permanent employment and wish to contract in the UK you will need to use a limited company or umbrella company to pay your taxes. This can be set up by a number of companies or accountancy practices, depending on the type of set up you require. Your visa type may also affect the options available to you when contracting in the UK. It’s best to check with the company you are contracting with. If you’re thinking of working in IT, our partner, UK IT Careers can offer these services for free.

What do I need to know about the UK tax system?

The adult working population in the UK has to pay tax and National Insurance. This can be a difficult subject to understand so we have provided a brief guide to some of the terms used.

National Insurance (NI)
  • This money is deducted to pay into a fund (under your NI Number) to build up your benefits, pension as well as for the National Health Service.
  • This deduction is a proportion of your salary. You will have to pay Employee National Insurance and if you are working as a Limited Company contractor you will be liable also for the Employer National Insurance.
National Insurance Number
  • This number is a requirement as it is your personal registration number used and is the code used to not only allocate your National Insurance payments, but also to ensure you are paying the correct amount of tax.
  • All employees need this number and ultimately it will determine the level of benefits and retirement pension you may earn. It is also a quick method of refunding any monies that you may claim when you leave the country.
  • You also need your NI number to register with the health service and get free treatment.
  • Your NI number can be found on your NI card.
  • You need to apply for an NI card just prior to starting work and this can be done directly by calling the UK government NI Applications number – 0800 141 2075 
  • Once you apply for your NI number you will be called to have an interview at your local Job Centre Plus where you will need to prove your identity, visa status and why you need an NI number
  • Sometimes you don’t need to apply for your NI number as it is already assigned and printed on the back of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • You can sometimes start working without an NI number if you prove you have a right to work in the UK. In this case, you will be assigned an emergency tax code until you get your NI card. You will be able to claim any overpaid tax back in your tax return.
  • You can also apply online via using an agent who can speed up your application
  • For further information on obtaining a National Insurance Number, visit the UK government NI help pages
Personal Income Tax
  • All employees are liable to pay a tax on their earnings.
  • These taxes are graded for various income ranges. For information on current tax bands, see the UK government website
Personal Tax Code
  • A tax code indicates the amount of free tax a person is entitled to earn in each tax year (commences 6th April).
  • This code is specific to each individual person.
  • You will receive this document when you leave a company a copy should be given to your new company.
  • In this way any earnings, under/over payment of tax can be carried on and your personal details are used.
  • You will receive this document at the end of the tax year – 5 April – and it will give you the amount of money you have earned and tax paid during that tax year.
  • This document is very important and you must retain it as your record of your tax deductions.
  • If you work for three companies in parallel you must receive three documents.
VAT – Value Added Tax
  • This tax is controlled and collected by the HM Revenue and Customs department.
  • It is a sales tax allocated to the majority of our purchases. Most goods and services are currently taxed at 20%
  • For up to date information on this difficult and changing subject visit click here.
PAYE Calculator

Follow this link to work out how much Tax you will pay: