Banking in Scotland

Once you've arrived in the UK, how do you set up a new bank account?

There are many things to consider when setting up your new life in the UK, one of which is opening a new bank account. To help, we put together a few tips and suggestions to get you started, including the following topics:

  • Do I need a new bank account?
  • How do you set up an account and what do you need?
  • Once your account is open, what next?
  • Monitoring your account
  • Which bank should I choose?
  • The main banks in Scotland

There are various different, and whilst one type of bank will suit one person, it may not suit everyone. So, it is important to shop around and find the right bank for you.


Do I need a new bank account?

Firstly, you will need to notify your NHS Board where to pay you! And secondly, a good bank account will offer ease of use, support you in building your credit score (important for your future in the UK), pay bills, and easily check your balance.


How do you set up an account and what do you need?

Similar to a lot of adminstrative tasks, to set up an account you will need to make an appointment with the bank and bring along the right documents.

Setting up an appointment:

Most banks won’t let you drop in, so it is a good idea to call in advance and schedule in your appointment. The appointment will be focused on discussing your situation in order to open the account.

Required documents:

Once you have booked the appointment you can then start to prepare the documents to bring with you. Basically, one document to prove your identity and one to prove your address. To prove your identity, you will need one of the following:

  • Passport
  • Driver’s licence
  • EU ID Card

Every bank has its own idea of how to prove your address, the following are widely accepted:

  • Tenancy agreement or mortgage statement
  • Electricity or gas bill, dated within the last 3 months
  • A current Council Tax bill

However, as an overseas national you will be new to the UK, so you might not have any of the above as evidence of your address. The good news is that most banks will accept a letter of employment from your Health Board written to the bank. You can request an employment letter from your HR or Medical Staffing department. This must confirm:

  • your home address
  • include your name
  • D.O.B
  • you are employed by your Health Board
  • the starting date of your role
  • your salary
  • duration of the contract

It must be on letter headed paper, stamped, signed and dated.


Once your account is open, what next?

Once you have completed your meeting (usually around an hour), your account will be set up and ready to use. Now that you have your new account number (8 digits) and sort code (6 digits) you can provide these to your payroll department ready for your first pay cheque!

You will also receive your bank card and pin code in the post, these are usually delivered separately.

If you receive one but not the other a day or so after, then contact the bank and they will reissue these. These usually arrive approximately 5 working days after setting up the account, but your bank will advise on the specific number of days so that you can keep an eye out for their arrival.

Once arrived, you can use this to make payments everywhere, including online. If you want to change the pin, you can change this at most bank machines to something that you will remember! Be sure to choose memorably but randomly, not 1234!


Monitoring your account

Now that you are set up, most banks will offer an online account to monitor your income. Most have an app that you can download to your smartphone to manage outgoings and transfers.


Which bank should I choose?

With the banking market bringing a wide range of accounts and banks, it is hard to navigate through all of the accounts on offer.

The most important advice we can give is to shop around. Check online and compare what is on offer across a wide range of banks. Often, it can also be easier to open an account with one of the bigger UK banks.

Here are a few things to consider when selecting your account and discussing what is offered during your meeting with the bank:

  • Examine digital features – online and mobile access via apps and online banking etc. It is beneficial to access your account anywhere, helping you monitor your outgoings and identify fraud.
  • Check if the account has monthly fees – most standard current accounts don’t, but premium services usually have a monthly charge.
  • No minimum balance requirement - good banks don't have these.
  • No limitations on the number of transactions – you want to be free to make as many, or little transactions as you want.
  • Free ATM access, so you can withdraw money when needed.
  • Check overdrafts and associated fees, you don’t want any unwanted charges.
  • Check if the bank has several branches, including one local to you. You may however prefer to use services offered online, which would open more options up to you.

Some banks offer specific accounts for people who have recently relocated to the UK, usually called new to the UK accounts. You can also chat to an advisor online to answer any questions you may have before you make the decision to arrange an appointment, check the bank websites for webchat options.


The main banks in Scotland:

The main banks in Scotland are:

Opening an account with these banks is usually easy, and they offer a range of accounts with online options.

Another popular option is to set up a Monzo account as they are very quick, easy to set up - whilst they offer a useful mobile app platform which makes it easy to keep track of your expenses. They also offer free payments and withdrawals outside of the UK whilst are an FSCS approved bank so offer the same security as one of the main five banks.


Information adapted from IMG Connect