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How to open a UK Bank Account for IMG Doctors

One of the first things I would recommend all IMG doctors do when they move to the UK is to open a UK bank account. There are many reasons for this:

– You will need to provide your trust/place of work details of where to send your pay to
– It enables you to build on your credit score
– A bank account enables you to receive monthly statements which can be used as proof of address
– It makes your payments in the UK – eg for utility bills, rent etc – a lot easier through the ability to set up direct debits

Which documents do I need to open a UK bank account?

Each bank will have their own criteria for opening a bank account, however in general most of them will ask for the following requirements:

– A personal meeting. This is best done by arranging a fixed appointment slot and confirming which documents you will need for this meeting. Some banks may offer walk in appointments but to avoid disappointment I would recommend booking a slot in advance. This meeting enables the bank to certify the documents that you bring with you, in order to confirm that you are the same person applying for the bank account. It usually does not last longer than an hour.

– Proof of ID – usually in the form of a passport and either a copy of your visa or your BRP (Biometric Resident Permit). If you have more than one passport, choose the one for the country of residence where you have stayed the longest or if it has a Tax ID.

– Proof of residence/address – this may be a utility bill (mobile phone bill, gas/electricity bill etc) or if you have not received this yet, you can either provide details of your tenancy agreement or ask your trust/hospital to provide a letter if you are staying in hospital accommodation. These letters need to have been within the past 3-4 months of applying.

– Details of employment – this may be your employer providing a letter. Ask your employer to include your work start date, salary and duration of employment – please ensure the employment letter is signed and dated.

How do I choose which UK bank account?

In general most UK banks have either a current account, a savings account or a premier bank account. For the majority of IMG doctors I would suggest opening a current account, as a premier bank account is usually reserved for higher earners (earning £80,000 or more) and in most instances has a monthly fee to cover the additional benefits with the account. 

A savings account is used to deposit savings and is not really suitable for everyday banking use.

In regards to current accounts, every UK account will have different criteria and benefits. For example a bank may state that you need to deposit at least £50 every month and the benefit of this account is that you may get cashback on some purchases, or a bank may say you deposit £500 a month and you will receive additional offers via the bank’s app. 

Ultimately you need to choose the bank account that works for you – maybe they have a branch close to where you live or are offering benefits that you may be interested in.

What are the main UK bank options?

The common UK banking options that you may wish to contact are:

– HSBC – you may already have an account with them in your home country which may simplify the process in terms of opening a UK account
– NatWest
– Barclays
– Nationwide
– Santander
– First Direct
– Monzo – is an online bank and you manage everything via your phone

What to do after opening a bank account?

Once you’ve completed the process of opening a bank account, ensure you ask for your online and telephone banking details. The bank usually sends you unique passwords that are needed for you to access these services in the post. You will also receive your credit and debit cards a few days later in the post too alongside your PIN.

Overdraft – what is it?

Once you’ve opened a UK bank account, you will notice that an ‘overdraft limit’ may be mentioned. An overdraft is when you have used more money than what you have in the account eg. if you have £500 in the account and a bill of £600 is paid from it, you will have gone into £100 of overdraft. With some accounts there may be fees attached to going into your overdraft and late payments may also incur costs. It is important to avoid going into your overdraft if this is an option with your account as this can affect your credit score.

What is the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

A debit card is a payment card that is linked directly to your bank account – every time you make a payment using it, money is deducted from your account. 

A credit card is for money that you in essence ‘borrow’ to make payments. You would need to pay this back on a monthly basis, or you may pay fees on the amount remaining eg. if you use your credit card to pay for £500 worth of goods, at the end of the month you will have to pay that £500 back or you would pay certain fees. The fees vary from credit card to credit card and it is important to look into these properly before signing up to one. On the flip side, having a credit card that you promptly pay back on time every month is also a good way to build your credit score. Only opt for a credit card if you feel you will be organised enough to pay this back on a monthly basis otherwise you may find yourself in debt.

Other blogs that may be useful

What is the MSRA assessment and how to Prepare
What is the PLAB 2 exam and how to Prepare
What is the PLAB 1 exam and how to Prepare
Clinical Attachments in the UK
Finding your first job in the UK

Final thoughts

As with most things, if you are organised, opening a UK bank account does not need to be complicated.

I hope this blog has provided insight into the steps required to make this process as simple as possible. Shop around the various banking options and choose the account that suits you. 

All the best 🙂

About us

Dr Aman Arora is a GP who is now 100% committed to transforming medical education, helping doctors across the globe to ace their exams and enhance their careers. He is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners). Previous roles include:

  • GP Training Programme Director
  • NHS GP Appraiser
  • GMC PLAB 2 Examiner
  • GP Recruitment Examiner
  • GP Recruitment Question-writer
  • HEWM IMG Board Member
  • HEWM Advanced MRCGP AKT Trainer

Dr Pooja Arora is a GP with a background in Medical Politics, passionately focusing on improving the opportunities and working conditions for junior doctors. Previous roles include:

  • Vice Chair Birmingham LMC
  • BMA Council Member
  • BMA General Practitioners Committee elected representative 
  • BMA Sessional GP Committee elected representative 
  • BMA National Deputy Policy lead for working at scale
  • HEE GP Ambassador
  • HEE GP Stage 3 Assessor
  • RCGP Midland Faculty AiT representative

* Blogs written by Dr Aman and Dr Pooja Arora are not for professional, financial or medical advice. Please seek appropriate professional, legal or financial advice where appropriate *

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