How to open a bank account

20 March 2020

4 min read

Choosing a bank account

Firstly, there are a few things to consider when choosing a new bank account:

Choose the right bank account that fits your needs

It is important to consider how you want to use your bank account, what you want to use it for, for example a personal or business account, and your current financial situation. This will help you choose a bank account that meets your individual banking needs.

Compare account charges and features

Most providers offer many different types of bank accounts. That’s why you should shop around for a bank account that best suits your needs. There are many bank account comparison sites which can help you decide.

Is it worth switching your bank account?

If you are thinking about switching your bank account to another provider this can be done under the Current Account Switch Service, which is covered by the Current Account Switch Guarantee. When you switch accounts, you can choose for all your outgoing payments, such as direct debits to be automatically transferred within seven working days. Your incoming payments such as salary and any pension income are also transferred as part of the Full Switch.

To learn how to switch with The Co-operative Bank, visit our dedicated page.  

The benefits of opening a bank account

Most people use a bank account to manage their money on a day-to-day basis. There are many benefits to having a bank account, which can allow you to:

  • Pay bills and make transfers.
  • Set up Direct Debits and standing orders.
  • Withdraw money from an ATM.
  • Pay for goods on a debit card.
  • Have an overdraft facility if this is an option, although this is usually subject to status.

Another benefit of opening a bank account is that you can safely manage your money. Most providers offer online and mobile banking, making it even easier to keep track of your account.

Will opening a new bank account affect my credit score?

Opening a new bank account may affect your credit score in the short term and making multiple applications in a short space of time could negatively impact your credit file. When applying for a bank account, your new provider typically will conduct a credit check before they will open your account

What documentation you will need to open a bank account

To open a bank account you may be asked to provide proof of identity and proof of address as part of the application process, however most providers will complete an electronic check in the first instance. What documentation you need will depend on the individual provider and the type of account you wish to open. In the vast majority of cases you can open a new bank account online or in branch.

Applying in branch and online

With many providers you can apply for a bank account online using their website. In some cases, where the option is available, you may prefer to apply for an account in branch.

Opening a bank account can be a simple process. In order to open a bank account you will be asked to provide a few details which may include:

  • Personal information, including your full name, address, nationality, date of birth and national insurance number.
  • Proof of address such as a recent utility bill or tenancy/mortgage agreement.
  • Proof of identity, such as a passport or driving licence. Some banks may accept birth certificates.
  • Your current job status, including your salary or any other payments such as pensions.
  • Your monthly outgoings.

Learn more about what documents you can use for proof of identity and proof of address.

The type of documentation you will be asked to provide can differ depending on your providers eligibility criteria, so it’s always best to check.

How many days does it take to open a bank account?

Some providers may be able to supply your sort code and account number the same day, but some banks may take longer. This can vary depending on what additional information or documents are required.

How soon can I start using my bank account when my application is accepted?

Once your application for a new bank account has been accepted, you will receive account details shorty after. You will also receive a debit card in the post which will allow you to pay for items in store and online. This means that you can start using your bank account as soon as you receive this information.


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