How to open a bank account

How can I apply to open a bank account?

It’s easy to apply online

Most banks have an online application process, which is usually the quickest way to apply for a new bank account.

You can choose and apply online for a:

If you can’t apply online

If you prefer, you can also apply in branch with many banks. Some banks are digital-only, meaning they don’t have branches to visit or apply from.

You can find a Co-operative Bank branch near you to apply in person.

What do I need to open a bank account?

When you apply to open a bank account, the bank will ask you to provide a few personal and financial details.

For example, we ask for your current:

  • Personal information, including your full name, address, nationality, date of birth and national insurance number
  • Job status and income, including your salary and any other earnings or payments made to you
  • Monthly outgoing costs.

Most banks will then run an electronic check on your identity. If needed, the bank will ask you to provide documentation as:

  • Proof of your identity, such as a passport or driving licence
  • Proof of your address, such as a recent utility bill or a bank statement from another bank.

Read more about what forms of identification we accept.

What is the best bank account for me?

There are a few things to think about when choosing a new bank account:

Choose the right bank account for you

It’s important to consider your current financial situation and what you want to use the bank account for: Is it for personal or business use? Is it just for managing your money day to day or do you want benefits, like travel and breakdown insurance?

Learn more about different types of bank accounts.

Learn the benefits of a bank account

Bank accounts have many benefits, such as allowing you to:

  • Manage your money safely day to day
  • Pay bills and make transfers
  • Set up Direct Debits and standing orders
  • Withdraw money from an ATM (cash machine)
  • Pay for goods on a debit card
  • Have an overdraft facility, if eligible.

Most banks offer online and mobile banking, making it easier to keep track of your account. Some banks also offer telephone and in-branch banking if that better suits your needs.

Find out about our accessibility features and services.

Consider switching bank accounts

You can use the Current Account Switch Service to easily switch banks. That means:

  • Your new bank will transfer your bank balance and all your outgoing and incoming payments to your new account
  • Your old bank will take care of closing your old account.

The process is covered by the Current Account Switch Guarantee, so you don’t have to worry.

Learn how to switch to The Co-operative Bank.

How long does it take to open a bank account?

The amount of time it takes to open a bank account varies. It may take longer if you need to provide proof of identity and proof of address before the bank can open your account.

When can I start using my bank account?

You can start using your bank account as soon as the bank has sent you what you need. For security, once the bank has accepted your application they will usually send your information and documents separately, including:

  • Your debit card
  • Your debit card PIN
  • Your bank account information
  • Your online banking information

You don’t need to wait until you’ve received everything – for example, you can start using online banking before you’ve received your debit card.

Will applying for a new bank account affect my credit score?

When you apply to open most bank accounts, the bank you’re applying to will run a credit check on your credit file and this may affect your credit score. Making several applications in a short space of time is likely to negatively affect your credit file.

Checking the eligibility terms carefully can help you avoid applying for an account and then being rejected. You could also run a free credit check yourself – this does not affect your credit score.

Some banks offer bank accounts which you could be eligible for even if you have a low credit score – we offer our Cashminder account and we don’t run credit checks when you apply for one, so it won’t affect your credit score.

Learn more about our basic bank account, the Cashminder.

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