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UK bank account for a company
Thread poster: Merab Dekano

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 3, 2015

Dear colleagues

I have recently registered a limited company in the UK (as you all know, it's very easy in comparison with other EU countries).

I as a sole director of the company am not domiciled in the UK. Rather, I live in Belgium and spend quite a bit of time in Spain.

All is fine and legal. I can have a company in the UK and "trade" elsewhere.

I would also like to open a UK bank account. I have heard banks require you to be domiciled in the UK in order to let you open a bank account in that country. Barclay’s does need you be domiciled there. I have not tried other banks just yet.

Do you have any experience/advice?

I guess I can link my Belgian/Spanish account to my English company but that's where my "entrepreneurial skills" start failing me.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Greetings
Merab


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:14
Member (2007)
English
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Presence required for Barclays, yes. But residency? Jun 3, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:
I would also like to open a UK bank account. I have heard banks require you to be domiciled in the UK in order to let you open a bank account in that country. Barclay’s does need you be domiciled there. I have not tried other banks just yet.

I know you can hold one as a non-resident, because I've got one, but maybe the rules have changed so that you can't open a new one nowadays. However, this link seems to be saying it's fine; you just have to be present in the UK to open it: https://wealth.barclays.com/en_gb/home/international-banking/who-we-help/resident-non-doms/non-resident-bank-account.html

Also: http://www.quora.com/How-do-you-open-a-bank-account-in-the-UK-for-a-non-resident

On the other hand, do you really need/want a UK bank account? https://www.rapidformations.co.uk/blog/uk-non-residents-how-to-open-a-business-bank-account/


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks! Jun 3, 2015

Thank you very much, Sheila. I guess you are right, my company needs no UK account after all. The truth is that even my UK-based customers pay me in EUR. So why bother.

I guess the best way is to go to a Belgian bank here and apply for an account for my company. They will ask for "apostilled papers" of my company and I will give them apostilled papaers, no problem at all.

Thanks once again!

Greetings
Merab


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:14
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
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Why? Jun 3, 2015

If it's not too personal and you don't mind my asking, why, if you live in Belgium and Spain, have you opened a business in the UK, is it for tax purposes or some other reason?

If you don't want to answer please feel free to tell me to mind my own business.


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
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English to Spanish
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I hope it will save me time and money Jun 3, 2015

Hi Alex

If you operate as a UK company, you file your annual return (I think it is called) once a year. It is easy and can be done online. You do not have to be “gestor” at all. You pay your taxes on what you actually earn as a profit. You cannot simply dispose of the company money, of course, but you can allocate yourself dividends. There are some formalities, but it is quick and easy.

If you are self-employed in Spain, I guess I do not have to explain it to you how it goes. In Belgium it is tiny bit less hassle, but still too expensive and overly bureaucratic.

My hope is that “trading” as a UK company will save me some time and money (so I can do more what I like: translate). I can be wrong, so any insight on this way of operating will be highly appreciated.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
French to English
Some yes, some no Jun 4, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

my company needs no UK account after all. The truth is that even my UK-based customers pay me in EUR.


Looking ahead, you will need to be able to settle your company tax bill. You might want to verify if you can do that from a non-British bank account.
(e.g. does the online payment system accept foreign bank account numbers, if not, can you pay by cheque from your non-British account? Things like that...)

Otherwise, yes, it seems day-to-day you could live without one.

It's weird. UK banks are all as rotten and corrupt as anything seen anywhere in the world (Libor fixing, money laundering, PPI, etc.) and yet the hoops they want ordinary people to jump through to open an account are beyond belief. Barclays almost refused to open my account because of a minority shareholder in my company, with no impact on the bank account whatsoever. But I bet Chuck Blazer could open a dozen accounts with them, no questions asked.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
They are not alone Jun 4, 2015

Charlie Bavington wrote:
It's weird. UK banks are all as rotten and corrupt as anything seen anywhere in the world (Libor fixing, money laundering, PPI, etc.) and yet the hoops they want ordinary people to jump through to open an account are beyond belief.

I've had and/or have accounts in the UK, the Netherlands, France and Spain and I can assure you that they're all pretty corrupt (maybe less so in UK and NL, actually), difficult for residents and downright obstructive for non-residents. I remember Barclays being particularly difficult after I left the UK. I had a Barclays account when I was 18, then a Barclaycard as soon as they were invented. By the time I'd been an expat for 15 years, and a solid Barclays client for over 35 years, I'd had enough. I don't remember how many times I shouted down the phone "I'm an expat, not a flippin' Martian!" at some poor guy in India. But my French banks have been just as unhelpful since I left there. In fact I'm passing through France on my way back from the ProZ.com conference in Rotterdam later this month, so I'll probably be closing the one I still have there (if I can). Nice to have, but too much hassle.


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
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I cannot agree more. Jun 4, 2015

I have been trying, really hard, to update my address-related details on my Spanish bank’s page. Every time I push the button “submit”, a message pops up: “Our site is undergoing maintenance…bla bla bla.” It looks like they have hard time understanding how I can be Spanish and live in Belgium…

Eventually, I turned to Lloyds for the UK account (also to my bank here in Belgium, who "is investigating the matter..."). Filled out the application but had to indicate “fake” UK number (they do not allow phone numbers from other countries on their website). I called them to explain the situation and they kindly asked me to call back in a "couple of hours" (cannot find my application in the system; it take time…).

I’m done for today. I actually have to work, so will be resuming the bank account topic tomorrow.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Puzzled Jun 4, 2015

No, I don't think you can register a company in the UK and "trade" elsewhere. Your company will have to produce 3-monthly VAT returns (not just an annual tax return), and will therefore have to have a bank account in the UK. It will have to have properly maintained paperwork, in English and in UK currency. And lots of other things will have to happen too. It will also need to have a business address. Where will that be?

I confess: I'm deeply puzzled as to why a person who doesn't live in the UK, has no UK connections, and who never comes here nor (apparently) has any intention of doing so, would want to set up a business here and have a UK bank account. The UK tax authorities will certainly come to know about this, and will have questions.

[Edited at 2015-06-04 13:36 GMT]


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
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English to Spanish
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No VAT Jun 4, 2015

Thank you, Tom. Those are valid questions. And require valid answers. Here you are:

1. If £82,000 annual threshold is not reached, limited companies come under no obligation to register for VAT. You can still do so, but it is optional. My company will certainly not reach this threshold.

2. Even though I have no direct connection with the UK (do have customers there though), I would like to avoid the Belgian bureaucratic and expensive regime for self-employed people.

My next annual return in the UK is due on 01 July 2016. I can file it myself (online) or hire an accountant locally (also online). The only thing I have to do is keep clean and detailed records of all transactions on a separate account.

There are no minimum capital requirements to register a private company in the UK. I studied EU law in the UK and I know that many German companies (as well as from other countries) are registered in the UK even though they operate their business from either Germany or elsewhere.

Your country, Tom, is light years ahead of mine (or Belgium) in this respect (go try to register a company in Spain or Belgium and you will find out how overly bureaucratic and expensive it is).

After all, this is what EU comes about; free movement of persons, free movement of capital).

In any case, I am still “learning” and not "trading" as a UK company just yet, but this is the intention. If UK bank does not let me open a business account with them, I will do it with a Belgian bank.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
My country Jun 4, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

Your country, Tom, is light years ahead of mine


It isn't my country. I just live here. I also have a business address. What about you?

I do share the same puzzlement as that expressed above by Alex Lago. What exactly is it that you are trying to simplify with these manouvres, which seem anything but simple?

[Edited at 2015-06-04 14:56 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
French to English
Registered address Jun 4, 2015

If you pay an accountant a hundred quid or so to set up a company then the default position is typically that the registered company address is the accountant's address. That was the case when I did it a few years ago (I only recently changed it to my actual address, in fact). Unless I'm misremembering, I seem to recall hearing that quite a few French nationals, especially in N. France, are jumping on Eurostar at Lille, popping to Ashford, setting up a UK company and then going home, because it's easier than setting up a company in France.

Which come to think of it, presumably means the bank account issue is not insurmountable....


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I find it more straightforward Jun 4, 2015

To avoid:

- Quarterly payments of social security fee (I cannot do it myself, I need an accountant).
- VAT (id.).
- To do it all either in French or Dutch (speak both a little, but not fluent).

UK private company:

- File tax return once a year (easy and can be done online without hiring accountant).

I simply find it easier. I also like the fact that the company is a different “person”. You are still responsible for it as a director, but you and your company have different “legal personalities”.

I simply do not see any serious downside in it. If I have to travel there one a year, London is 300 kilometres away. I can even drive there in a matter of hours.

And yes, I do have a business address. You cannot register a company without having a business address, Tom (no physical office, though).


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Social security Jun 4, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

To avoid:

- Quarterly payments of social security


Hmmm.

I presume you would be registered as the sole director of your company (there has to be at least one director). Therefore as an employee of the company, you would be liable for tax and National Insurance, etc.

I quote from the HMRC website:

"Directors are classed as employees and pay National Insurance on annual income from salary and bonuses over £8,060.

Contributions are worked out from their annual earnings rather than from what they earn in each pay period."

Or maybe you've found someone else foolish enough to be the sole director of your company?

[Edited at 2015-06-04 14:42 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:14
French to English
Companies house & HMRC Jun 4, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

UK private company:

- File tax return once a year (easy and can be done online without hiring accountant).

I simply find it easier. I also like the fact that the company is a different “person”. You are still responsible for it as a director, but you and your company have different “legal personalities”.



I'm not trying to dissuade you (far from it - I'm think of taking over all the admin for my own company, since 2 accountants now have proved unreliable) but there are returns to be made to both HMRC and to Companies House. They don't look too onerous at first sight (I've read the info online briefly, not in detail), but just to make you aware of them, so you know it's not just the accounts.


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