If you’re moving from overseas, getting your finances in check and opening a bank account can be a bit of an experience. For starters, if you’re planning on going with the Bank of England (it’s an obvious choice), forget it. You won’t be able to open an account with them.

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The good news is there are plenty of other options, and you’ll be able to do all the banking you need in London exactly as you would at home. You may encounter issues if you’re trying to open a joint account (we’ve heard horror stories of people being fobbed off and told it’s ‘not done’ in England – this isn’t true!), but opening an individual account is relatively straightforward.

How To Set Up Your London Bank Account…

You’ll need your passport and proof of address to open your account. Some banks may also require your work visa. The fun and games begin when you realise that there are many landlords in London who won’t rent to people without a bank account, and you can’t open a bank account without an address.

It’s a good idea to go prepared with as much documentation as you have, just to be on the safe side and save yourself the tedious bother of returning when they ask for more stuff. Proof of employment is a common request, as are details of your existing bank in your native country.

If you’re looking for a traditional branch led bank, a few of the most common options are include:

  • NatWest
  • HSBC
  • MetroBank
  • Barclays
  • Lloyds Bank
  • The Royal Bank of Scotland

While this isn’t an exhaustive list they are all well-established banks with plenty of branches throughout London. Once you know where you’re living, it may be easier to make your selection based on convenience rather than anything else.

While traditional banks may seem like an obvious choice, more and more people are opting for reputable tech based banks which make banking far more convenient. A few of our favourite challenger banks are:

A few other points to consider in relation to banking are that most banks will let you withdraw cash from the ATM of another bank at no extra cost. However, if you’re using an ATM that isn’t attached to a bank, check there are no withdrawal fees – they can be sneaky and add them.

We rarely use cheques anymore in England, so expect to make your regular payment such as rent and utility bills via direct debit. In other respects, the banking system is likely very similar to the one you’re accustomed to, with online banking options and the ability to use your debit card in shops and online. You’ll also find many shops support payment apps that allow you to pay with your phone.

Time to crunch the numbers…

Once you’ve got your bank account up and running there are a few key areas of finance that you should be aware of. As an accountant, you’re going to find these even more important than most people, so here’s a rundown:

Income Tax

The UK uses a system of progressive income tax which sees the amount paid increase in proportion to the amount earned. High earners often find themselves paying a lot in taxes. The good news is that as long you’re earning less than £100k annually, your first £11K earned each year is tax-free.

For income above the £11K threshold, you’ll pay a 20% basic rate on income up to £32,000 per year. You’ll then pay 40% for everything above £32K and up to £150K, and 45% for any income that exceeds £150K. In addition to this, there is National Insurance to pay – you can use this calculator to check what your take-home pay will be and help you get a firm grip on how this works.

The good news is that if you are employed (rather than self-employed) you don’t need to file a tax return each year.

Capital Gains Tax

Any income you earn through the sale of your company shares, as well as interest you earn over and above your personal exemption amount,  will incur a capital gains tax. This will either be 18% or 28%.


The majority of goods and services that are sold throughout the UK are subjected to the addition of 20% of their value in tix. Most goods and services sold in the UK are subject to a 20% value-added tax. The VAT is already included in the price of goods as you see them on shelves. So the sticker price is the price you pay. The exception to this is if you’re purchasing a service, in which case you’ll often see prices quoted as XXX plus VAT.

Council Tax

One of the odder expenses for people moving to the UK is council tax, a somewhat regressive type of property tax. If you’re renting you are the one responsible for paying this, as it’s the occupant of a premises, and not the owner who is liable for it.

TV License Fee

Another one that’s a little strange for new residents in the UK is TV licensing fees. If you watch live television, either on a TV or online, you’ll need to pay for a TV license. The bonus of this is that you don’t have to endure advertisements when watching anything on the BBC, as they collect the revenue from licenses. If you’re watching programmes strictly via catchup services (rather than live streaming), you’re not currently required to get a TV license.

Vehicle Taxes

There’s a whole load of taxes that come with driving a car. For starters, buying petrol in the UK is 60% more expensive as a result of taxes. Driving in London comes with a congestion charge of £11.50 per day to drive in the city. And if you want to drive through the city centre there are other fees that may apply, while you’re also subject to mandatory testing and registration. Road tax also needs to be paid annually.

The majority of Londoners (particularly those on lower incomes) forego a car and rely on public transport and car services like Zipcar – it’s better for your wallet and the environment!

Transferring Money From Overseas

The majority of the time transferring money from overseas is straightforward using international wire transfers. It’s simple, easy, and you’ll receive the cash instantly. That being said, you may find you’re paying above the odds for it, particularly if you’re making large transfers. Check out this guide on MoneySavingExpert to find the best option to get your money in and out of the UK.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to money and relocating to the UK, but don’t let that put you off.

Actually Landing A Role

The method you use to find your new accounting position will vary depending on the type of role you’re looking for. Before you start, make sure you’ve whipped your CV into shape. If you’re struggling with cashflow a temp agency may be an option for you, but in the long-term the best way of finding the perfect role is to work with a recruitment agency.

A good recruitment agency will assess your skills and experience, and work to place you in a role that fulfills your needs and goals, and gives you the opportunity to excel and further your career.

If you’re looking at relocating to London and need help finding the perfect accountancy position, get in touch…

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