Opening a bank account
You’ll probably want to open a UK bank account, especially if you’re going to be working in the country. This makes it easier to receive your salary and pay taxes. It can also help you avoid charges for using a non-UK card here.
You’ll need to prove your identity to open a bank account, usually with a passport, driving licence or National ID card.
Many banks also need to see two documents that confirm your UK address. For example, these might be household bills, bank statements or council tax bills.
If you’re brand new to the UK, you may not have these documents yet. Luckily, some banks allow you to use a letter from:
- Your university, if you’re coming to the UK to study
- Jobcentre Plus, confirming your National Insurance number
- Your employer or landlord in the UK
You don’t have to give proof of address – or even have a fixed one – to open a bank account with Monzo. You just need to have a UK address where we can send your card.
Moving money to the UK
It’s likely that you’ll want to transfer funds from your current bank account to your new UK account. But doing this through your bank can be expensive and slow. Using a money transfer service like TransferWise may be a cheaper and simpler alternative.
While you’re still setting up in the UK, you might want to find a short-term solution that’ll help you access your money before you get a bank account. This could be a travel card from your existing bank, for example. Travel cards are designed to be used abroad – they usually won’t charge fees for withdrawals or transactions overseas.
Remember to consider how you’ll access money if you leave the UK (to go and visit family back home, for example). It’s free to use your Monzo card to spend while you’re abroad, and you can withdraw up to £200 every 30 days for free. Our app tells you the current exchange rate when you land too, and we’ll pass on this rate with no extra fees.
When you apply for credit – like a credit card, mobile phone contract or overdraft – the lender will look at your credit history to decide whether they’re willing to lend to you. Your credit history includes information about how you’ve handled your finances in the past.
Unfortunately, your credit history can’t cross borders. So if you’re new to the country, companies won’t find much information about your past financial behaviour. This can make you seem like more of a risk, meaning they might turn you down.
You can give companies more confidence by increasing your credit score. It’s also worth telling the lender you’re new to the UK, which can help them better understand your situation.
Finally, you could consider using a guarantor to help you borrow money. A guarantor is someone who promises to pay the money back if you can’t. This is a risk for them, so make sure they understand what’s involved.
If you’re a resident in the UK, you’ll usually have to pay income tax and national insurance contributions. Your employer will usually take this off your salary before it’s paid into your bank account.
Tax is collected in the UK by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You need a national insurance number to work here, as this helps HMRC track your income.
You can only apply for a national insurance (NI) number once you’re in the UK – and you must have the right to work or study here to get one. Note that if you have a biometric residence permit, your NI number may be printed on the back of it.
You can start working in the UK without an NI number. But it’s important to apply for one as soon as possible. This is because you’ll have to pay ‘emergency tax’ until your NI number arrives.
The HMRC uses emergency tax for people they don’t know enough about. It’s often a high amount – so you may want to ask for a tax refund once you get your NI number and start paying the right amount of tax.
It’s useful to know that NI numbers don’t expire, even if you leave the country for a long time.
Renting a home
Many people rent a home when they first land in the UK. It’s important to know what this will cost, and what you need to prove.
There’s usually a large upfront payment when you agree to rent a place. This usually includes the first month’s rent, admin fees (although these will be banned in 2019), and a tenancy deposit.
A tenancy deposit is a sum of money used to cover any damage or unpaid rent. It’s usually equivalent to one or two months’ rent. As a private tenant, your deposit should be protected by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (a government-approved organisation).
When you apply to rent a house or flat, the landlord may check your credit history. This helps them decide if you’re likely to pay your rent on time.
If you don’t have much of a credit history in the UK, this could potentially reduce your chances of being accepted to rent. However, you may be able to convince the landlord by:
- Explaining your situation
- Providing proof of income or a letter of employment
- Getting a reference from your previous landlord
- Paying several months’ rent upfront
- Using a guarantor
Finally, remember to budget for the cost of council tax (unless you’re a full-time student) and household bills.
If you’re new to the UK, find out how you can set up a bank account with Monzo in minutes.