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Ask an expert: ‘My bank isn’t providing safe-deposit boxes anymore. Where can I get one?’

Discover all your options when it comes to keeping your valuables safe

Every week, Which?’s money experts answer your financial queries. You can submit your questions to money-letters@which.co.uk, or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Q. My bank HSBC has recently written to me giving notice that it will no longer be offering a safe-deposit service. What am I supposed to do with my important documents, some of which are valuable?

Supplied via the Which? Money Helpline.

A. Unfortunately, almost all major high street banks have now stopped providing safe-deposit boxes for customers. These boxes can be a convenient place for people to store valuable family heirlooms such as jewellery, as well as important documents such as wills and insurance policies.

Today, there’s just one major bank with a high-street presence, Metro Bank, that still offers this service. With branches across the South East of England you can store your valuables, and there are five sizes of safe-deposit box to choose from,ranging between £200 and £675 a year.

Extra small Small Medium Large Extra Large
Size of box  3″ x 5″ x 21.5″  5″ x 5″ x 21.5″  3″ x 10″ x 21.5″  5″ x 10″ x 21.5″  10″ x 10″ x 21.5″
Annual cost  £200 £250 £325 £475 £675
Source: Metro Bank website

If you’re not based in the South East, however, there may soon be a chance to rent a box with a national banking giant. Lloyds Bank is considering bringing back safe-deposit boxes and told Which? Money that it was looking to test the boxes in branches in 2017.

Non-banking options

Independent safe-deposit box firms have sprung up all over the country since banks began exiting the sector a decade ago.

If you’re in London, there are plenty of options. They are offered by many jewellers and bullion brokers, which allow you to buy and sell gold and other precious metals. One we looked at, called Sharps Pixley, offer safe-deposit boxes starting at £250 per year, with insurance liability cover up to £10,000 included.

If you’re looking for a well-known brand, you could lock up your load at Harrods, which currently has a few spaces left for small items in London.

Although you currently won’t be able to store anything larger than a necklace or watch, prices start from £450 a year and include public liability insurance up to £10,000. Do bear in mind that Harrods will vet every applicant for a safe-deposit box which takes up to three working days.

Selfridges offers document-sized boxes, available from £180 a year, underneath its Oxford Street shop and you can add up to three extra people to a safe-deposit box account.

Or you could deposit your goods with the Royal Mint at its Welsh headquarters. They now offer short term rent options for a small box from £110.

Banks and depositories outside the capital

Outside of London, Birmingham Safety Deposit Ltd offers 13 different sizes of boxes, starting from £215 a year.

Alternatively, the State Bank of India has storage facilities across the UK, covering Leicester, Manchester and Wolverhampton, with prices starting from £150 a year.

Can I build my own safe at home?

Yes, but it’s important to factor in the cost of a good safe, which can run into thousands of pounds. You’ll also need to pay a professional locksmith to bolt the safe into the ground.

If you decide to store valuable documents at a home safe, it’s a good idea to make copies of all your vital records on a cloud storage software programme in case of a fire or flood. These feature layers of security, and are accessible anywhere where there is an internet connection.

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