I joked last year that 100% of my teachers were teaching in London, but only 50% were able to open a bank account. They were all able to get visas to work in the UK, but when it came to filling out the bank forms, half of them messed up. That's not to say they can't fill in forms! But a bank account is more difficult to get than a visa.
Part of the reason this is such a big deal is that you can't get an apartment without a bank account, and you can't get a bank account without an apartment.
See the problem?
You have to prove to the bank that you live where you say you live, and you are who you say you are. Living where you say you live is shown through a bill addressed to you at your address. If you're not yet in the UK, how do you this? OR, if you are in the UK, how do you prove you should get an account when you're staying at a hostel?
So, here's what you do.
If you are still in Canada (or your home country), and want to get your account before you go, then Lloyd's is your best bet. You can try to get an account with HSBC, or another international bank, but in my experience they are much more expensive & more difficult to get accounts with. Lloyd's has a fairly simple process and costs less than 10 pounds/month. You don't need a UK address, as they open the account based on your Canadian address.
Here's the link:
www.lloydstsb-offshore.com/International and quote 222320 on all correspondence.
Proving You Are Who You Say You Are
Along with your application form, send them a copy of your passport, with the following taken into account:
Passport - A clear black and white photocopy (both parties for a joint application)
Passport must be valid (i.e. not out of date) and confirm expiry date & date of birth.
This must be certified by one of the following:
• Chartered Accountant
• Serving Police or Customs Officer
• Notary Public
• Member of Judiciary
• Senior Civil Servant
• An Embassy, Consulate or High
Commissioner of the country of issue of the
• Director, Officer or Manager of a regulated
financial services business (e.g. Bank Manager)
operating in an equivalent
Proving You Live Where You Say You Live:
You do this by providing them an original bill, in your name at your address.
This must be:
- An ORIGINAL gas, telephone (not cell phone), local authority rates or electricity bill. Alternatively, a mortgage, credit card or bank account statement from a recognised bank.
- Must show your name and residential address
- Documents must be less than 3 months old
You have to send your passport photocopy (certified) and a bill, as well as your completed application form. They will also need a letter from your employer which confirms your earnings. So, if you've registered with an agency, then the agency provides you this letter, or mails it to the bank for you.
That's the whole process in a nutshell.
The only other option is to wait until you arrive in the UK. Most people just do this. Your agency will likely have a relationship with a UK bank, where they write letters for their teachers confirming their income. You then take that letter, along with your passport and your proof of where you are living (ie. your lease), and bring these to the bank. Some people are lucky and get their account within a couple of weeks. Easy-peasy. Most aren't though. It can take 2 months to actually get a bank card & your PIN number, and if you're waiting to be paid that long, it can be a bit of a nightmare.
Sending Money Home
The next issue is how to send money home. If you're like me, and plan to pay your student loans (or mortgage) while you are away, then you need to figure out how to get that money home quickly & cheaply. The banks charge about 15 pounds for a wire transfer, and those can take 30 days. You just walk into your UK bank & ask them what to do.
I was with RBC, and they mucked up my wire transfers every time for a year. No joke. Many of my teachers have had the same experience. For some reason, when receiving money from the UK, they would act as though it was the most foreign concept ever! It should be easy right?
So, I found the company, Tranzfers - they charge 7 pounds per transfer, and it only takes 6 business days. It's ridiculously easy, and relies on internet banking. So if you're reading this blog, chances are you know how to use the internet for your banking as well.
Here are their details:
- TRANZFERS is a service for expats where you can send money to or from home for a maximum fee of only £7 without even visiting a bank branch.
- It only takes a few minutes to get registered and start sending funds between the UK and Canada