Although many UK banks have tended to rely more and more on internet accounts over recent years, there does still tend to be a good number of branches located in the larger towns and cities across the country. You may struggle to find a bank branch in the smaller towns and villages, though. ATMs are in massive supply and the banks that have left a particular area nearly always leave a cash machine behind in their wake.
In addition to banks, the United Kingdom also has financial institutions that are known as building societies. To the average tourist, they may actually find it difficult to differentiate between banks and building societies, after all, they will all tend to appear the same on first glance. Cash-point machines (ATMs) and even bureaux de change facilities are likely to feature in either type of organisation.
If you are looking for foreign exchange facilities, banks are likely to be your best bet. However, do be advised that in the UK, banks can still charge commission on transactions and it is also commonly accepted that the rates will tend to be less favourable. With this in mind, you may prefer to locate a travel agent on the same high street.
If you are looking to open even a very basic bank account in the UK, you must be aware that authentic identification will be required. A passport, driving licence and even utility bill and/or credit card statements may be required and this is provided for in law. For what is known as a current account (checking account in the US), these will be virtually impossible for a non UK resident to open. They rely heavily on successful credit searches and this will depend on at least 3 years’ domicile in the country.
Opening hours will be usual working hours in the cities (0900hrs to 1700hrs Monday to Friday). Some branches of banks are attempting to portray a more flexible image to their customers and are opening on Saturdays (especially mornings). In smaller towns and more rural locations, be prepared for far fewer opening hours. They may also close for lunch and it will be highly unlikely that they will open on a Saturday.