October 11

Do I need a business bank account?

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If you set up as a limited company, you must have a separate business bank account. For sole traders, and even partnerships, it is optional although we’d strongly recommend opening a separate bank account in order to keep your personal and business finances separate. As a sole trader this could be just a separate personal bank account, which would probably mean free banking, whereas banks will charge for a business bank account

Do your research. Not all banks are the same and while you may wish to use your own bank to open a business account, it’s worth shopping around for the best deal as some banks offer free or fixed cost business banking whereas others charge for every transaction. Call two or three banks and ask to speak to the new business manager; tell them that you are setting up in business as a bookkeeper and that you want a business bank account. They should now be selling you their services. If you have lived in the UK for less than two years and don’t have a UK passport there may be additional requirements you have to meet.

After contacting two or three banks choose the one you prefer. You may have to go into a branch to open your account if you choose a high-street bank in which case make sure you have all the documents you need to take with you, usually proof of identity (a passport or driving licence) and proof of address (current utility bill or personal bank statement). If you have registered as a limited company you will also need to show your certificate of incorporation.

It is advisable to have a credit card to use just for business. If you open a business bank account and your bank offer you one, decline politely and apply for a personal credit card instead and use this just for business transactions

An alternative to high street banks is the increasing number of online banks providing low-cost business banking. These are great if your clients pay you electronically and all your transactions are online. A good option is Starling Bank but there are others you may want to consider.

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