Setting up a Bank Account

Money and banking are vital elements of studying in the UK.

Why do you need a UK bank account?

As an international student, you need to make sure you have enough money to pay for study, books and living expenses. You also need to make sure your money is secure and that you can access it anytime. You can use a basic day to day account to pay for course fees, rent or daily living costs.

How to set up a bank account:

It may seem daunting, but it’s important to have a patient attitude when trying out banking in the UK. When you arrive, simply head into a bank and let them know you’re an international student and would like to open an account. You will need to bring photographic identification, proof of your UK address and proof of enrolment. You will be provided with access to a day-to-day account and an online savings account. Once you have been identified and you are over 16 years of age you will receive a debit card (when it is ready).

Bank Account Checklist:

  • Passport, Birth Certificate or National Identity Card (if you have one)
  • Proof of UK address (can be a household bill or tenancy agreement)
  • Proof of Enrolment

Note – It is not necessary to have a National Insurance Number to get a bank account. However, you will definitely have a lot of difficulty if you don’t have proof of address. As a student, it should be a little easier to open a student-friendly account, however without an address it will be very tricky. Try to have this sorted out before you come into your selected branch. 

Where are the bank branches?

Many branches have multilingual staff if you require assistance in a language other than English. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) provide 24/7 access to cash and are located across your city and various campuses. To find your nearest branch or ATM check your bank’s website or mobile app.

How to transfer and manage funds:

With family and friends overseas it is crucial to understand how to transfer money internationally. Make sure you have all the required codes (SWIFT, Sort and IBAN for Europeans) and the correct account numbers.

Transfer checklist

  • Your own account number and details
  • The receiver’s account number and details
  • SWIFT, Sort and (for Europeans) IBAN codes

Note – You can do this at a bank branch but using online banking can be useful.

It might well be cheaper to transfer using a third party site rather than your local bank, as many UK banks will have large fees attached to international transfers. Shop around and find the best deal for you! Remember to ensure you choose reliable transfer sources.

For more general information, there is a great guide here to the kinds of account and processes associated with opening such accounts in the UK.