Thousands of people have family, work or property interests in both Ireland and the UK. Many hundreds of people live in Ireland but work in Northern Ireland or other parts of the UK. Those people will be dealing with payments in both Sterling and Euros on a regular basis.
This article looks at opening a UK Bank Account from Ireland. The ability to have a UK Bank Account allows Irish residents to send and receive payments to or from the UK, possibly avoiding the need to convert to Euros. Opening a GBP Sterling account while living in Ireland can sometimes be long-winded and messy with the “main” banks. They will usually require a UK address and some require a personal interview.
Opening a Sterling Bank Account in the UK with the “mainstream” Banks
If you have larger sums of money to transfer from Ireland , some people will feel safer with the guarantee of a “proper” “bricks and mortar ” bank covered by the UK or EU deposit guarantee.
You will probably find it easier to try some of the Irish banks that have branches in Northern Ireland. Some of these banks may allow you to open a UK Bank Account From Ireland.
The banks might want you to attend in person – so you should ring around the banks that are the easiest for you to get to over the border. Try Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank . They might let you open an account through the post without having to travel in person.
If you also have an address in the UK – that should make it easier to set up a UK bank account .
AIB does offer a Sterling current account in Ireland – but it isn’t very useful since it comes with a £10 standing charge every quarter – plus transaction fees and fees on incoming payments. It doesn’t come with a debit card.
When opening a UK Bank Account From Ireland, it is probably best to start with a small amount of GBP, to begin with. You could use Sterling cash, if you have it, or do a small electronic transfer from your Irish Bank to the UK Bank. You could send Euros and it will be converted into Sterling by the UK bank (at a poor exchange rate) . But don’t go drawing out hundreds of Pounds in cash at an ATM.
Once you have the UK sterling account opened you can then arrange for any larger currency exchange and transfers from your Irish Euro account into the Sterling account. (See below for conversion and transfer options)
Currency Exchange and Transfers
If you want to transfer Euros from your bank in Ireland and convert it to Sterling to be sent to a UK bank account – don’t assume you have to do it through your own bank in Ireland. You don’t.
The exchange rate from the main Irish banks will not be the best – and they may also charge some additional fees or commissions too.
You might be able to send Euros straight to your Sterling account – but the recipient bank will convert it to Sterling also using a poor exchange rate which could end up losing you as much as 2 to 3% of the value. Some UK banks may also charge a fee or refuse to accept incoming Euro payments.
There are a few specialist currency exchange brokers that you can use – and their exchange rates will typically be better than the banks. Even a difference in the exchange rate of just 1 per cent would save you €1000 on a €100,000 Euros transaction
For example – we did a check on the exchange rates offered in early 2020 and found that on a transfer of just €10,000 Euro into Sterling using AIB would have got you £8272 Pounds but using a specialist currency exchange company (see below) would get you £80 more (£8350) . So the savings can be substantial.
Currency Exchange Companies
Garton Global Payments
Garton Global Payments is based in London and was set up by Irish native, Niall Walsh. They can assist you in arranging the transfer of money between bank accounts in Ireland and UK bank accounts.
Garton Global Payment’s personal, proactive approach will help you to access competitive rates of exchange when sending money to the UK . (Especially on amounts over €10,000) .
All the payment and foreign currency exchange services at Garton Global Payments are provided by Currency Cloud Ltd. which is authorised by the FCA in the UK as an Electronic Money Institution.
In the EU , Currencycloud BV is licenced by the Dutch Central Bank as an e-money institution , allowing it to operate in Ireland and across the EU.
You can request a quote here
Or you can call the Garton team direct on (UK) +44 20 8004 3288. or on their Irish number 01-5846855
Fexco is an Irish firm that can exchange your Euros to Sterling and transfer the funds to your chosen bank account overseas. Fexco was established in 1981 in County Kerry and now employs over 2,300 people in 29 countries. They are authorised as a payment services provider by the Central Bank of Ireland and are also regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of payment business in the UK.
Fexco can provide personalised advice to reduce your exposure to fluctuating exchange rates. You can get a quick quote online at the Fexco Website
Currencies Direct have several offices worldwide including one in County Cork in Ireland. They have been operating since 1996 and transfer more than £7.5 billion annually.
Once you have registered with Currencies Direct you can arrange to send money from Ireland to England, or any other country, online or via their mobile app. If you prefer, you can also arrange transfers over the phone with a currency expert.
For larger amounts, you will be allocated your own dedicated trader. They can fix the rate, watch the rate on your behalf and keep you up to date with market movements. Our direct contact is Mary O’Regan ,based in Cork ,who will be happy to answer any questions and can register you over the phone if you prefer.
You can call Mary at Currencies Direct on + 00353 (0)151 3619
Another UK based company we recommend that specialises in money transfers is Currency Solutions. They are based in London and regulated and authorised by the UK Financial Services Authority and HM Revenue. They can carry out currency transfers from Euros to Sterling as well as most other major currencies. You can make a no-obligation enquiry about your currency requirements online here . If you prefer – you can telephone them on their Irish number 01 431 1344 or on their UK number 0044 207 740 0000 .
Compare Rates and Fees
Of course – always check with your own bank first to see what exchange rate they will offer you so you can be sure you really are getting a better deal by not using the bank. The rates are usually better on larger amounts. Don’t just ask for the exchange rate – get the bank to confirm exactly how much Sterling you will get after conversion – and after any fees have been deducted.
If you just compare the raw exchange rates – the difference in those figures may look insignificant and you may feel it’s not worth the bit of extra hassle. But when you see the difference in the total amount you will get after the exchange – it could easily amount to hundreds of pounds. Not bad for a couple of phone calls and a bit of online form filling.
If you are worried about the fluctuating exchange rates – you can reserve an exchange rate up to a year in advance. This is useful when your money might be tied up in a fixed rate account or in a property.
Alternatives to the Main UK Banks
Revolut describes itself as a “financial super app . A Revolut account is a payment account that holds your e-money. It may hold e-money in different currencies at the same time.
It is a digital service that runs on Apple or Android smartphones.It offers typical banking services such as debit cards, direct debits and payment transfers. With Revolut -you get a UK Sterling account and a Euro account – both with IBANs.
Revolut was granted a full banking license by the European Central Bank (ECB) in December 2021.
The licence was given to Revolut Bank UAB.
Irish Revolut account holders are currently customers of Revolut Payments UAB – (Jan 2022) and the plan, as we understand it, will be to eventually offer all existing Irish customers the option to move their accounts to Revolut Bank UAB . This will then mean that funds held with Revolut of up to €100,000 per person will be covered by the Lithuanian Banking Guarantee.
Wise Multi-Currency Account
Another option we can recommend is a “Multi-Currency Account” from Wise. (Formerly Transferwise) .
It is not a full bank account – but this electronic money account provides you with a valid UK account number and sort code that can be used in the same way as a normal UK bank account.
The Wise accounts are not full bank accounts – so you can’t lodge cash or cheques or set up direct debits.
They are authorised by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) and Wise is also licensed and regulated in the EU by the National Bank of Belgium. You could also use WISE to send Sterling payments to the UK bank accounts of friends/relatives or suppliers/utilities etc in the UK.
You can also link your Wise account to their debit card for spending.
You can sign up for a Wise account here.