The United Kingdom is viewed as an attractive market for foreign investors and overseas businesses – particularly those in the financial services market. A report published by MAS and UKTI in 2012 revealed that 46% of UK financial services companies were owned by non-UK residents at that time. Bearing that in mind, it’s safe to assume many overseas directors of UK companies will wish to open a business bank account in the UK.
There are very few barriers prohibiting non-residents forming limited companies in the United Kingdom, and it’s an incredibly easy process. All limited companies and LLPs must be registered through Companies House (The UK Registrar of Companies), with most incorporations being carried out entirely online. In as little as 3 working hours, you can register a ready-to-trade company in the UK through a company formation agent like Quality Company Formations. Opening a business bank account, on the other hand, is not so straightforward.
If you are an overseas owner of a UK-registered company, you have two options: apply to open an account with one of the select few banks offering services to foreign owners, or legalise your company documents to open an account in your own country of permanent residence. There is no right or wrong option, it’s entirely up to you.
Let’s take a closer look:
UK banks offering account services to non-residents
Quality Company Formations has teamed up with TransferWise to provide a UK business banking solution to non-UK residents. A TransferWise business account will provide non-UK residents with a UK business bank account number and sort code, as well as providing them with Eurozone, United States and Australian bank details at the same time. You will be able to receive money for free and hold over 40 currencies in your account at any one time. You will also be provided with a business debit card. Quality Company Formations’ Non-Residents Package, which has been tailored to suit the needs of non-UK residents, includes a free TransferWise business bank account.
Legalising company documents for overseas use
If you are unable to open an account in the UK, or would prefer to open one in your country of residence, you’ll have to present your official incorporation documents (the certificate of incorporation and the memorandum and articles of association) in order to prove your company exists. For these documents to be accepted overseas, you must have them legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). You will be issued with an Apostille Certificate* for each incorporation document to verify their legitimacy.
*Please note: Apostille certificates are only valid in countries that are party to the 1961 Hague Convention.