We've heard all sorts of stories about how difficult it is to open a bank account in England. It's something we take for granted here in Australia. You walk into a bank, show them sufficient ID and you have a bank account. Not so, it seems, in England. It isn't so straightforward if you don't have an address and a job - something people like us planning on cruising the canals won't have.
We would want an account with internet banking and with use of a Visa or Mastercard debit card. We would prefer to open the account before we leave Australia so we can transfer the money we'd need to buy our narrowboat into the account at a time (and exchange rate) convenient to us.
I've asked lots of questions and searched the internet and discovered a couple of options.
The easiest would be to use a service such as Work Gateways. You pay for the service, provide the necessary documents, get some extras and the work is done for you.
HSBC offer an account designed especially for people new to the UK. It is offered for an initial 12 month term at £8 a month. Once the 12 months is up you could then open a regular bank account because you'd have a banking history.
HSBS Passport account
If anyone knows of other banks who will open a UK account before you leave Australia, please leave a comment and I'll investigate and post an updated blog entry.