UK banks willing to open a normal account for dual UK/US citizens?
September 13, 2017 3:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a new bank account and am wondering which bank to try. I live and work in the UK, have no income from abroad and don't make payments overseas, but I do have US citizenship. I'm looking for a standard everyday pounds sterling bank account from a British high street bank to hold jointly with my British non-dual citizen husband.

Due to FATCA regulations I know a lot of banks don't want the hassle of dealing with dual UK/US citizens. Instead of filling out lots of applications and getting turned down, can anyone recommend a bank that would accept me? I have great credit and a good income and don't plan to keep more than £5k in the account.
posted by hazyjane to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Banks have to comply with extra reporting regulations for US citizens. They don't like it but they do do it. I'm a dual US/UK as well and belong to a pretty active expats group on FB where people are arriving and opening accounts with Lloyds, HSBC, Metro etc. The complaints are mainly about proof of address etc - not specific to citizenship.

In any case, I haven't heard of a US citizen being turned down for only that reason. Have you actually been turned down?
posted by vacapinta at 3:37 AM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm in the same boat as you citizenship-wise. My husband and I have a joint current account with Santander and a joint savings account with Triodos, and neither has given us any hassle. We opened the Santander account way back in 2000 when it was still Abbey National, and when I still only had U.S. citizenship. FATCA wasn't passed till 10 years later, but apparently Santander either have never looked back at their records or have concluded that it isn't an issue. If it ever becomes a problem, I will renounce my U.S. citizenship (I wouldn't have said that before last November, but ...).
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:38 AM on September 13, 2017

Vacapinta I haven't been turned down but HSBC weren't able to approve me online and are now "considering" my application- and I'm just guessing it's about citizenship. Googling the issue made me think getting turned down is common so thanks both for the reassuring answers so far.
posted by hazyjane at 3:48 AM on September 13, 2017

When we first moved to the UK (Canadian and Australian respectively) our citizenship wasn't an issue, our lack of UK address history was. We opened an account with HSBC, which involved a rather lengthy interview at a branch, but after that it wasn't a problem. So long as you have proof of address you should be fine.
posted by nerdfish at 4:22 AM on September 13, 2017

Vacapinta I haven't been turned down but HSBC weren't able to approve me online and are now "considering" my application- and I'm just guessing it's about citizenship.

Any bank will take you but you will have to visit the branch to apply. Bring your passport in addition to all the other stuff.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:53 AM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

HSBC were fine in Hong Kong in similar circumstances, but I needed to go to the branch. You'll be less profitable for them since you can't use their investment services.
posted by frumiousb at 5:24 AM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've lived in the UK now for 15 years, 14 of them as only a US citizen (I'm dual now). RBS and HSBC both gave me an account but i definitely had to jump through a few more hoops - in fact, HSBC were the only bank who would give me a mortgage as a non-resident. I've never been turned down for a bank account or credit on account of the extra paperwork - I think it's just more hassle.
posted by ukdanae at 12:47 PM on September 13, 2017

I (US citizen residing in US) have had an account at Barclay's for about 22 years now so well before FATCA but they have never sent me anything after its passage indicating it's an issue. Obviously in the 90s I had to open my account in person since there was no such thing as applying online. I've been happy enough with them as an institution.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:55 PM on September 13, 2017

My first account in the UK was with HSBC and back then I only had US citizenship too.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 4:14 AM on September 14, 2017

H'm. My father is american, but he's been here over fifty years so his visa isn't one of the modern ones that gives you problems, and he got his bank accounts back when they cared about your initial deposit being big, not security. People with money in america who've moved or retired over here have never, of the very many i know (in rural wales - in london, you don't really know anyone, but in the countryside, you meet and talk to everyone! you tell each other everything!), ever found a british bank card or account that will let them access their money, so they have to carry on using their american one. Which means signing, no chip and pin. Worse, you can't see the bank balance or access the savings in america from here - when my father inherited money, he had to open a joint account while visiting in america with his sister, and she has to visit it then phone him to tell him the balance and transactions, and take money out and post it to him. I hope you find a solution, but it's really hard for common people crossing borders. I was once on a bus with a man from Iran who was arrested at the French border for having £12,000 in cash on him, he said he was a professor moving to the UK for a year it was for living on. Everyone else was like 'very dodgy' i kept trying to explain that there are bank sanctions (then - the nuke sanctions) so you can't bank transfer and what is he supposed to live on? Rent costs, salary arrives late. If your job is here, you should be alright. If you have problems, you'll have them everywhere, because there'll be some type of visa or whatever they don't like. It's not like there's a bank that helps foreigners. Irish banks in the UK used to be the only banks that would take Irish citizens' money (which is odd considering how many of them are here).
posted by maiamaia at 4:34 AM on September 14, 2017

nb my father can't sell on amazon because it asks your place of birth and his is america, then he has to give his american social security but he left over half a century ago and he can't remember it and trying to get it snarls you in endless bureaucracy... but he can sell on ebay
posted by maiamaia at 4:35 AM on September 14, 2017

The terminology you are using is confusing - do you have both UK and US citizenship? One thing to note is that there's no such thing legally as a status of 'dual citizenship' between the UK and US. There's just two citizenships you hold at the same time.

If you have US citizenship only, then you will face barriers to opening an account, but it's not insurmountable. My wife (who is now a naturalised UK citizen and US citizen by birth) was able to get an account with RBS by showing her US passport and UK spousal visa. It was a starter account, basically, no overdraft, very little in the way of account benefits and a limited debit card. After a year or two on that, it changed to a regular current account. And a year or two after that she got citizenship, which removed most of the barriers to financial products and contracts. Plus we made a point of getting her on joint bills, (gas, electricity etc) and establishing a regular pattern of payments through mobile phone contracts and direct debits from our joint account so she would have a history of paying bills. This was also useful evidence that we needed when applying for her Indefinite Leave to Remain visa and for citizenship later on.

UK Yankee is a great forum for getting more guidance on these sorts of questions.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:49 AM on September 16, 2017

« Older Leggings, available in the UK, that are exactly...   |   Would you heed this letter if you were a liquor... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments