The process of transferring
If you wish to transfer your account from one bank to another, don’t expect the process to be simple. It's just not a simple matter. But at least, it is now easier than it was in the past.
You will want continuity – to ensure that you do not find yourself without banking facilities, and to ensure that your cards are not declined when you go to buy or to draw cash from an ATM. You may have had a disagreement with your old bank, and may not wish to deal with them in relation to the transfer. On the other hand, you may be attracted by some aspect of the package offered by another bank e.g. lower charges, better services, etc.
Where to start - that's the question. Should you visit the old bank and close the old account or should you visit the new bank first.
Since 2005, the banks have adopted agreed procedures for transferring accounts. These can be found here
For personal and business customers, the key commitments are:-
- If you decide to switch your personal account, your new bank will give you a switching pack. This pack takes you through the process, step by step. It clearly explains what to expect along the way, who is reponsible for what, how long it will take and exactly what you have to do. Each participating financial institution will produce their own switching packs which will be available to customers on request.
- If you decide to switch your account, your new bank will have your new account up and running within 10 working days once they have approved your application.
- Your previous bank will provide your new bank with information on your standing orders and direct debits in order to complete switching your account. As soon as the new bank sends a signed Transfer of Account Form, this switch will be completed within 7 working days.
So your start point is a visit to your new bank. They will likely give you a switching pack with all relevant forms and other material. Read them carefully, especially in relation to informing your employer about the change if you are paid directly into your account. If you have dividends paid directly into your account, you will have to notify the registrars of the shares which you hold - this notification is not an automatic part of the transfer process.
The transfer procedure is managed by your new bank. When you give them notice of your wish to transfer, they will do preparatory work which includes the production of new cards, cheque books and any other devices which you may require.
When these have been produced, your new bank will arrange to transfer your standing orders and direct debits, and the actual funds in the account, and your old bank will then close the old account.
Some pitfalls and deficiencies
The transfer process caters for the main banking services. It does not transfer your online banking details. If you use online banking, then it is likely that your bank holds the details of your regular payees, including the relevant reference numbers. You will have to retrieve these, and set them up in the online system of the new bank.
If you are a recipient of standing order payments (as opposed to a payer) the standing orders will not be automatically transferred. You will have to go to each payer to request that a new standing order be set up - and there may be additional charges to the payer of the standing order for the alteration. This deficiency of the transfer process means that for charities and other organisations who receive an income by standing orders, transferring to another bank is usually not worthwhile. They are essentially captive customers.