Opening a bank account

Filed under: Rebecca in the UK — iain @ 22:36:28


Rebecca will want to find a job, even a temp position, rather than sit around at home watching TV while I’m at work. But she won’t be able to be paid without a bank account.

Act I, in which a plan is formed

I called the bank.

"Hello The Bank," quoth I, "my wife has arrived in the country from Hong Kong and would like to open an account. She won’t have any proof of address or anything like that but she does have a passport with her visa printed on it."

The bank hmmmed.

"Oh and also I am a customer of yours with three accounts, one of which is a business account, and two credit cards, one of which is a business card."

"Ah right, well, in that case," said the bank, "what she’ll need to do is bring her passport and some bank statement or utility bill with her Hong Kong address on it. We’ll be able to open the account at that address then immediately change the correspondence address to your UK abode so she can get her statements, chequebook &c."

Very good.

Act II, in which a plan is dashed

We pitched up at the bank at about one-thirty.

I explained that Rebecca wanted to open an account, that I had been advised she needed to bring her passport, which we had brought, and a bank statement showing her Hong Kong address, which we had also brought.

"Oh you need three months’ bank statements," said the bank.

"I was told that one would suffice," I retorted.

"It’s three. We always ask for three," reaffirmed the bank.

"Not this time you didn’t. We had one month’s statement. We can’t get any more. One doesn’t fly round the world clutching bank statements. This is what we’ve got."

"We could open the account directly at your UK address if you have some proof of address here," the bank suggested.

"And what do students do," I asked, "when they come to this country? They don’t have proof of address but you open accounts for them."

"It’s different for students."

"Why’s that?"

"They have a letter from UCAS."

"I could write a letter," I offered. "I run a business. I’ll offer her a job. Would an offer of employment suffice?"

"Unfortunately no," the bank sighed.

"When I came back from living in Hong Kong," I reminisced, "I didn’t have three years’ credit history or proof of address. I showed the manager my offer letter and he opened me an account."

The bank admitted that I was welcome to speak to the manager but that the rules are the rules and that three months’ bank statements would be needed. Either that or two separate documents showing Rebecca’s address.

Wait, what? The bank didn’t say that before.

Rebecca probably did have more than one document with her address on it…

Act III, in which a plan is formed again

We arrived back home.

That is to say I arrived back home; Rebecca can’t prove that she lives with me.

We found that yes she did have several credit card, bank and mortgage statements. We packed these away and headed back out into town. Rather than head directly for the bank, however, we stopped in at O2 so she could get a mobile phone contract. Such would be a proof of address!

O2 wouldn’t let her have a mobile phone contract because she couldn’t pass a credit check. She couldn’t pass a credit check because she doesn’t have a UK credit or debit card. And we know why that is, don’t we?

"So what do students do?" I enquired.

"It’s different for students," said O2, who went on to suggest that I could activate a new SIM card in her name and add it to my account. While not as helpful from a getting proof of address perspective, this would at least allow her to have a phone. I agreed.

O2 then informed me that this would be subject to a credit check on my account and that this credit check would be deferred, that they would have to call the finance division and explain that the reason why the customer wanted to do something as outlandish as have two phones was that one was for someone else.

O2 submitted my details for a credit check. The result was deferred. O2 then called the finance division. And if you were expecting me to report that they explained why I wanted two phones you would be mistaken. O2 didn’t actually say anything other than "uh-huh" and "yes" before the contract was approved. It made me wonder why they bothered.

Act IV, in which a plan comes together

We went back to the bank.

I smiled my friendliest smile at the teller and announced "We’re back!" and that "We have brought," emptying a dozen or so documents over the counter, "a buttload of paperwork." The bank could jolly well sort through it themselves.

Five minutes later the manager appeared with some forms to fill in. Rebecca filled in the forms. Then he appeared with some more forms for her to fill in. She filled them in. Then he returned again with a piece of paper detailing her account number and sort code.


It being quarter-to-five, I went home. And Rebecca went to the same place I did. But not home, obviously.


  1. You were lucky. When I joined Sun UK while still living in Germany I tried to open an account in the UK to be able to get paid. It didn’t work. When my wife and I moved to the UK a few month later we tried again. We still couldn’t get an account because we didn’t have a proof of address. It took us another five weeks until we finally got a account with Lloyd’s World Wide Services (instead of a cash-card only basic account with a local branch). Sun’s payrole deparment was really relieved when they finally could pay me the five monthly salaries.

    Comment by Tron — 2007-07-22 @ 17:12:41

  2. You don’t change at all do you?????

    Comment by chloe — 2008-02-13 @ 21:36:48

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