UK Finance has teamed up with UK banking providers to pull together some guidelines on what you need before you apply for a business bank account.
These rules only apply to existing businesses that have a turnover of less than £6.5 million, have a clearly-defined ownership structure and all of the business’ owners operate in the UK.
In general, UK Finance recommends that you get the following bits of documentation ready in advance. Most business current account providers will be looking a few key pieces of information.
One document to prove your identity:
- Your full and valid UK or foreign passport
- Your national identity photocard
- Your full UK paper driving licence
- Your full UK or foreign photocard driving licence as issued by a member state of the EU or the EEA
One document to prove your address in the UK:
- Your full UK driving licence;
- Your full UK or foreign licence photocard driving licence as issued by a member state of the EU or EEU;
- UK or foreign bank or credit-card statement (must be less than three months old and not printed from the internet);
- UK mortgage statement (less than 12 months old and not printed from net);
- Council tax bill, payment book or exemption certificate (must be less than 12 months old);
- A letter or bill from a utility company (less than six months old, avoid mobile phone bill).
Business-wise, you’ll need:
- Your Companies House registration number (if you have one)
- Details about your business including turnover, tax information and other capital
- Details of all company directors or partners, including name, date of birth, address and National Insurance number
You can move through this guide on UK Finance to make sure you meet the requirements.
Once you’ve collected your documents, it’s time to choose an account. We’ve rounded up some of the favourites on the market.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve created a table of the best business bank accounts in the UK, detailing each provider’s key offerings.
|Bank||Eligibility||Free banking period||Account fee thereafter||Cash transaction limit|
|HSBC||Businesses with up to £2 million turnover||18 months (12 months for switching businesses)||£5.50 a month (for the first 12 months)||Up to £3,000 cash per month. 50p per £100 exceeding that limit|
|Santander||Trading for less than 12 months and business is opening first business account with Santander||18 months||£7.50 a month||£1,000 per month with 70p per £100 exceeding the limit|
|TSB||Open to sole traders, partners and directors||18 months||£5-£40 on fixed fee accounts and per transaction on business tariffs||N/A|
|RBS / Natwest||Over 18s who have a right to be self-employed in the UK||18 months||Cost per transaction on Standard Tariff (see below)||N/A|
|Lloyds / Bank of Scotland||New businesses who have an anticipated turnover of up to £3 million for the Business Current Account||18 months (6 months for those switching from another business account)||£6.50||N/A|
|Barclays||Suitable for most businesses with a turnover of up to £6.5 million. Specific criteria for businesses in certain sectors e.g. agriculture, social housing||12 months||£6 a month (Mixed Payments Plan) £6.50 a month (e-Payments Plan)||N/A|
|Clydesdale / Yorkshire Bank||Businesses must have a turnover of under £2 million and have opened their account within 12 months of starting||25 months||£5 a month until 30/05/19, moving to £6.50 a month from 01/06/19 (Business Banking Tariff)||£250,000 per year|
|Metro Bank||Businesses must have a turnover under £2 million||N/A||£0 on account balances over £5,000 and £5 a month for balances under £5,000 (see below)||N/A|
If you start your business with HSBC, you’ll bag free banking (that means no maintenance fee or payments into an account covered by standard account charges) for the first 18 months. If you’re switching from another account it’s free for account. After that it’s £5.50 a month for 12 months your account will be reviewed every subsequent year to make sure you’re always on the best standard tariff for your small business’ needs.
You can deposit up to £3,000 a month at this point and then 50p per £100 cash deposited beyond that limit.
The account is available to businesses with up to £2 million turnover. Within the business current accounts, you’ve got a choice between the electronic banking tariff or the small business tariff depending on how you do your business banking.
With Santander you’ve got a couple of options on the current account front.
This one’s open to you if you’ve been trading for less than 12 months and your business is opening its first business current account with Santander.
It comes with an arranged overdraft on an unsecured basis from £500 up to £25,000. To qualify you must have a good credit history and not have been declared bankrupt or have had an IVA within the past six years. On top of that, you must not have been a disqualified director of a failed business within the same time period.
After the first 18 months the account costs £7.50 a month with a cash deposit monthly limit of £1,000 and 70p per £100 deposited in excess of this monthly limit.
You can also nominate colleagues to have access to your account to help you manage the business finance.
There’s no minimum or maximum opening deposit or maximum balance to get started.
The main draw of the 1|2|3 Business Current Account is the cashback. The rate of cashback you receive is dependent on how much you deposit into your account each year and will be at a rate of 1%, 2% or 3%. This cashback will be paid on the first £10,000 deposited into your account per year.
That’s 1% on turnover of less than £200,000 – you’ll get up to £100 of cashback per year; 2% on turnover of £200,000+ – (£200 cashback per annum); 3% on £300,000 – (£300 cashback per annum).
Other than that, it’s much the same as the Business Current Account.
Whether you’re on the start-up or the switcher offer, you’ll be paying £5 a month in fees. After your first 18 months (12 months for switchers) you’ll be put on the £12.50 account which also has a £1,000 monthly deposit limit and 70p per £1000 in excess of that limit.
TSB offers 18 months of free business banking for sole traders and limited companies.
After that you’ll be paying between £5 and £40 a month depending on what kind of fixed account you’re on. Alternatively, you pay per transaction on the Business Extra Tariff and the Electronic Business Tariff.
If you prefer to bank in-branch, there are 550 TSBs around the UK and you can do banking in 11,500 Post Office branches. Accounts are available for start-ups and switchers who are coming over from another account.
The account comes with a free Square reader with no fees to pay on your first £1,000 of sales. To keep up with your finance, opt into text alerts with regular account balances and transactions.
You’ll get free banking for 12 months with the start-up business account. Plus, receive expert advice from Barclays’ Business Direct team in the early months for support in helping you grow. They’ll help you shape your business strategy, figure out your cash flow management and forecasting and guide you through lending and trading abroad.
The established business doesn’t give you free banking but you’ll get a percentage of your charges back depending on your annual credit turnover and how long your account has been open.
As for payment plans, both have mixed payment plan which is great for businesses that use cash, cheques or mixed methods to make and receive payments. There’s also e-payment for those that receive electronic payments and make payments through online banking and debit cards.
Natwest / RBS
There’s a choice between two bank accounts with Natwest: Startup and Business. They’re open to those over 18 who have a right to be self-employed in the UK.
More specifically, the Startup account is open to businesses that have been trading for less than a year and have a turnover of less than £1 million. It has free banking for 18 months, moving onto the Standard Published Tariff.
The Business account is available to those who have been trading for over a year with a turnover of up to £2 million. It gives you access to benefits and services like FreeAgent accounting and Business Boost along with your own Relationship Manager.
Business overdrafts are available with no set minimum to pay back each month. You can borrow up to £50,000 unsecured (subject to approval).
Lloyds / Bank of Scotland
With Lloyds and Bank of Scotland, new businesses with an anticipated turnover of less than £3 million get 18 months of day-to-day banking for free with the Business Current Account. It’s six months if you’re switching from another business account. All of the accounts have free electronic payments and simple pricing structures.
You can get extra support from products like business loans, insurance, overdrafts and charge cards.
Halifax doesn’t have a business bank account offering at this time.
Clydesdale / Yorkshire Bank
Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank combine to make the largest challenger bank in the UK. They have the most generous free banking period at 25 months, covering free day-to-day banking for qualifying switchers and start-ups. Your business must be turning over less than £2 million with an annual cash transaction limit of £250,000.
It’s open to businesses who switch to one of the banks’ current account or start-ups who open a business account within their first 12 months.
As well as bank accounts for larger businesses, Metro Bank has a specialist account for start-ups and SMEs who have a turnover under £2 million.
If your balance stays above £5,000 for the whole month, Metro Bank will waive your monthly account maintenance fee. Otherwise it’s £5 for that month. If you stay over £5,000 you get 50 fee-free UK transactions for a month with 30p per transaction in excess of that. Accounts that go below £5,000 will pay 30p per UK transaction.
Of course, a small handful of digital banking platforms have appeared in recent years. Here’s a quick breakdown of their their headline features.
|ANNA||Smart invoicing, automatically chase outstanding payments, three-month free trial||£11 a month|
|Revolut||Hold, exchange and transfer currencies with real exchange rate, issue free corporate cards to employees, perks from commercial partners||£6.99 - £1,000 a month, depending on the account|
|Starling Bank||No monthly fees, categorised transactions, integration with Xero and FreeAgent||Free for firms with fewer than 10 employees and less than £1.7 million annual turnover. Larger businesses can get the account free for a limited time.|
|Tide||No fees on card payments in UK or abroad, free transfers between Tide accounts, Tide Mastercard, instant invoicing, integration with FreeAgent, Sage and Xero||Charges per transaction (see below)|
ANNA is open to any UK resident who is a director of a limited company and non-limited businesses that are structured as a partnership or sole trader.
On the app you’ve got smart invoicing, creating sales and purchase invoices for you in under ten minutes. It’ll politely chase outstanding payments that you’re owed and you’ll be notified about VAT, corporation tax and self-assessment tax return deadlines.
In the future it’ll introduce VAT filing with HMRC as well as tax reminders and payroll services.
You can get a three-month free trial directly through ANNA’s website. After the free trial is over, it costs £11 a month.
Revolut is a good shout for businesses who travel and trade overseas. Customers can hold, exchange and transfer 29 currencies with the real exchange rate.
You can issue free corporate cards to employees so that they can spend fee-free and with reduced expenses when they’re abroad.
To make running your business easier, you can have individual EUR and GBP individual bank account numbers (IBANs) too.
Revolut comes with perks and benefits from partners such as Apple, Amazon Business, Google Ads, WeWork, Deliveroo and Slack.
In terms of accounts you’ve got:
Freelancer (£6.99 a month), available for personal freelance accounts with up to £100,000 of incoming funds per month.
Start (£25 a month) for those with less than £100,000 incoming funds per month.
Standard (£100 a month) – £100,000 to £1 million of incoming funds per month.
Professional (£1,000 a month) – more than £1 million of incoming funds per month.
The Starling Bank business account to you if you’re self-employed or the owner of a limited company. Firms which have more than one person with significant control will be able to apply for an account in future.
There’s no monthly charge on the account for businesses which have fewer than ten employees and less than £1.7 million in annual turnover. For now, it’s free to larger businesses but this is for a limited time.
If you want to deposit cash you can do so at 11,500 Post Office branches across the country. It’ll set you back £3 per deposit. Each post office withdrawal is 50p.
What’s more, you can integrate it with Xero and FreeAgent.
With Tide there are no fees on card payments in the UK or abroad and you get free transfers between Tide accounts. Transfers outside Tide are charged at 20p each, ATM cash withdrawals are £1 and cash deposits at Post Office are charged at £1 and 3% at PayPoint.
You can have up to 35 team members available per account on the Tide Mastercard.
You’ve also got instant invoicing and the ability to set up scheduled payments. The package is rounded off with in-app support as well as integration with FreeAgent, Sage and Xero.
Monzo doesn’t have a business bank account offering right now, but it’s looking to introduce one in future. You can register your interest on their website here.
This article has been brought to in association with Know Your Money.