There’s no obligation for a new limited company to immediately open a bank account – it may be that your limited company never plans to use banking services but there are many advantages to doing so.
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Do you need a business bank account for a limited company?
A limited company is a type of business structure where the company has a legal identity of its own, and the liability of the owners is limited to the capital that they have invested.
Limited companies are privately owned by one or more people, and they must be registered with Companies House, pay corporation tax and file annual accounts.
You don’t need to open a business bank account but if you do intend to deposit funds, and make and receive payments through a bank account as a limited company (which is going to be the case for most), then you will need to open a business account.
Can you run a limited company from a personal bank account?
The short answer is no! As a limited company is a distinct legal entity, its finances must be kept in a separate account to your personal finances.
The situation is slightly different if you’re a sole trader – you can use your own personal current account to make and receive payments relating to your business, but only if your banking provider allows this type of usage. And if your bank sees a huge volume of transactions going through your personal current account, it may still request that you open a business account.
What are the other advantages of a business bank account?
Apart from the legal requirement to open a business account if you’re going to be using banking services as a limited company, there are other advantages to having a business account.
You’ll be able to keep the business finances separate to your own, which will make them much easier to manage and monitor, especially when it comes to expense and tax reporting.
Many accounts also come with enhanced features, such as an invoicing and expense tracking tools, or the ability to integrate with accounting software.
One thing to be aware of is that unlike most personal bank accounts in the UK, business accounts often come with a monthly fee and other transaction charges. This isn’t unusual, but the level of fees being charged will be one of the things for you to compare when selecting which business account to open.
How to choose a business bank account for a limited company
It’s important that you consider all of the features and fees that come with the various business accounts out there on the market, before deciding which one to apply for.
Here are some key questions that you should look into when researching business bank accounts:
- Does the account come with a free trial period?
- What is the monthly or annual account fee (after any free trial)?
- What are the fees for transactions such as direct debits, international payments or ATM withdrawals?
- Can the account be easily managed online or through a mobile app?
- Does the bank has a branch network, if you prefer to speak to staff in person?
- What features does the account have e.g. invoicing or expense monitoring tools?
- Does the account offer integration with accounting software such as Quickbooks, Xero and FreeAgent?
- How quickly can I open the account?
- Will I be able to open the account if I have a bad credit score?
How to open a business bank account for a limited company
Once you’ve researched and chosen which business account you’d like to go for, you’ll need to apply to that banking provider to open it. Many applications can be now be done online or through a mobile app (especially given the growing number of digital-only accounts), although some banks with a branch network might ask you to visit in person.
Every business bank account will have a slightly different application process, but here is a general list of information and documents that you should have to hand:
- Companies House registration number for your business
- Your business name and address
- Your own personal details and contact information
- A form of ID
- Proof of address
- Estimated business turnover
- Personal bank or financial statements
Most business bank account providers will also carry out some kind of credit check on you, although there are a few that will let you open an account without one (but be aware these products tend to come with higher usage fees). For more information on opening a business account without a credit check, check out our guide to opening a business account with a bad credit score.
How to open a business bank account as a non-UK resident
If you’re not resident in the UK it may still be possible to open a business bank account here. We have gone further into this topic with a dedicated guide.
The traditional high street banks are likely to offer you a type of international bank account, though you will still need to provide all of your ID and address information (for your current country of residence).
The other option is to go with one of the digital-only accounts which can be opened online or through a mobile app – some of these banking providers (not all) won’t ask you for proof of address or conduct any credit checks.
Compare business bank and e-money accounts for limited companies
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The bottom line
If you’re going to start a limited company which makes and receives payments, then you’ll have to open a business bank account in the company’s name. While the paper work involved in opening a business bank account for your company can sometimes be a little more onerous than it would be if you were opening a personal current account, it shouldn’t involve all that much extra work.
Aside from meeting legal requirements, opening a business account on behalf of a limited company can be useful for a variety of reasons.
It will make it much easier to keep the business finances separate to your own, which will make them much easier to manage and monitor, especially when it comes to expense and tax reporting.
Once you have a business account, your firm may also be able to access overdraft facilities and business loans. Some accounts also come with enhanced features, such as an invoicing and expense tracking tools, or the ability to integrate with accounting software.
Given the choice of business accounts available today, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding an account to meet your firm’s needs.
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