Wednesday, September 8, 2010

london :: banking

photo credit: Frank Songbird

Money, money, money….

One of the biggest hurdles for us when we first tried to move to the UK in 2004 was banking. Oi! It's making my head hurt already. Being twenty, I guess I could have done more research at the time, but basically, I closed up my bank account in Vancouver and asked for the bank to issue me a cheque with my remaining balance. The cheque was in Canadian funds which brings us to ...

lesson # 1: If you show up to a British bank with a cheque in Canadian funds, it will be mailed back to the bank that issued it and a new cheque with the amount in British pounds will need to be sent. This could take 6 to 8 weeks. The bank failed to tell us this and we spent a lot of time wondering where our money was.

lesson #2: If possible, get an account before you leave. I strongly advise this. When I wanted to switch bank accounts in the UK, I originally was not approved due to bad credit even though I had never missed a payment nor had any debt at the time. The bank finally figured that my papers were shuffled to a random bank teller back in Canada. They may have not known what to do with it and declined it or decided not to approve it because I had closed my account with them earlier in the year.

Earlier this year, Lloyds TSB offshore made bank accounts available to those who wish to open a foreign current account, live / work overseas or even if you just travel frequently. So far, the customer service has been great - super helpful and friendly and the nice thing is that they have staff based in Vancouver and Toronto.

Other possible banks to consider are:

Barclays (This is where we originally set up our accounts on our first trip in 2002)

If you decide to work / live abroad or just want to spend a good chunk of time traveling, having an account in place with some cash in it, will, in the long-term, make your life a lot easier. Trust me. I can't tell you enough how happy I am that this has all been taken care of. * whew *

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