How to set up a bank account in the UK

You may wish to ask if your bank has a special relationship with a bank in the UK and whether they can help you with setting up an account.

We recommend that you open a bank account which can provide you with monthly paper statements. It is important to keep all your bank statements while in the UK and make sure that you tell your bank if you change address.

Why open a bank account?

Safety and security: It is better to deposit money in a bank account so that your cash is not lost or stolen.

For visa purposes: If you need to extend your current visa or apply for a new visa you will need to show financial evidence to prove that you have enough money to live in the UK. Having a UK bank account helps you to do this quickly and easily.

For a part-time job: Many businesses pay salaries directly into a bank account. There may be bank charges to pay your salary into an overseas account.

What documents are needed to open a UK bank account?

You will need to bring the following items with you to open an account:

  • Your passport/photo ID card
  • A 'bank letter' from the University confirming your registration, your home address in the UK and your overseas address – and the fact that the University has corresponded with you at your overseas address.

You will be issued with a 'bank letter' after you have completed your visa checkpoint at the University. This letter will be issued by the Registry, not your academic department.

How long does it take?

Many banks also have tight security measures, so that it can take quite a long time (up to four or five weeks) to open an account. It is very important that you have enough money available to cover your expenses during this period. It is difficult to estimate how much you will need, as students have individual needs, but we suggest £1,000 (separate from tuition and accommodation fees) for a single student living in University accommodation.

For security, we recommend you bring a credit or debit card, which can be used in the UK, rather than large amounts of cash.

For further information, please see the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) bank accounts page and the British Bankers Association Website.