International Student Support
Opening a UK bank account
Opening a UK bank account is by far the safest and most effective way of managing your money as an International Student. However, the process can sometimes be complicated and may take several weeks during the months of September and October. It is therefore important that you bring sufficient funds to cover your initial expenses, especially if you plan to move to London early. For safety reasons, it is not a good idea to bring large sums of cash; look for alternative options such as using Travellers Cheques and paying tuition fees online.
Although you may be able to withdraw money using an overseas bank card, operating your finances entirely from an overseas account is not really practical for a number of reasons:
- Using an overseas card to withdraw money is likely to incur a charge each time
- You will not be able to set up direct debits from an overseas account (often essential when setting up a phone contract or gym membership)
- Should you wish to seek part time employment during your studies, employers will pay your wages directly into a UK bank account
UCL does not endorse any particular bank; the information on these pages is designed to provide general information. It is therefore crucial that you do your own research and decide which account best suits your individual needs.
In order to save
time, it is highly recommended that you select a bank before you arrive in
When researching you may wish to consider the following questions:
- What are the requirements of opening the account and do you meet these? For example, is there a minimum length of stay in the UK? Do you need to provide a particular document?
- What facilities are offered? For example is it free to receive overseas payments?
- Is there a branch which you can easily access? Consider your accommodation location; is it convenient to visit a branch if necessary?
- Is there a monthly charge for the account? If so you may find additional benefits are included, are these necessary or could you opt for a more basic, free account?
During busy periods you may be required to book an appointment in advance with the bank, this is because lots of students will also be setting up accounts and branches close to UCL will be extremely busy. Some banks may allow you to book an appointment prior to arriving in London; where possible, try to book this a couple of days after your enrolment appointment so you have time to gather necessary documents. Also, make sure the appointment doesn’t clash with orientation events or departmental inductions.
International Students normally need to be physically present and registered as a student to open a UK bank account, therefore it is unlikely you will be able to open an account before you have arrived in London and enrolled at UCL.
The documentation you will need to provide will depend on which bank you select to open an account with. Generally you will need to provide:
- Proof of identification and visa (if applicable)
- Proof of address (UK and Home)
- Proof of student status
- UCL Student ID card
However, different banks may require proof of the above in different formats. We are currently producing a document which provides individual requirements of banks UCL have agreements with along with their conditions and the facilities offered; this will be available nearer the time.
To obtain a bank or student status letter you can either visit the Student Centre with your student ID card and request a letter, or, to have the letter posted to your ‘contact’ address you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, student number and the letter you require.
Before requesting a Bank letter or Student Status letter you should ensure that your ‘term time’ and ‘home’ addresses are correct on your student record; you can update these using Portico.
- Update your addresses on Portico as soon as possible so that the information will already be correct when you request the bank/student status letter
- If you are expecting to receive money from overseas ask about processing times and any charges that may apply
- When opening you account opt for printed statements, rather than online, as the UKVI will request these if you apply to extend your student visa
Page last modified on 17 jun 14 12:23