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Opening a bank account in the UK

19 August 2016

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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 of opening a bank account in the UK can be long and complicated, especially with tens of thousands of international students arriving in London in September and October.

This is why we want to help you in any way we can and there will be a range of bank representatives on campus during the International Student Orientation Programme (ISOP) (see our article on top 5 reasons to attend ISOP).

Want to get the process going? Here is what you can do right now to ease the application process:

  • Consider which bank to open an account with before arrival. This can involve researching the banks and speaking to banks in your home country for any possible links
  • For some banks you can start working on setting up your account right now, by completing the online application in advance. Just look on our page for local bank account options.
  • Update your term-time address to your UK address in Portico before enrolment (look out for a video coming soon showing you exactly how to do that!)

Once you are here, attend ISOP the week starting the 19th of September. There will be representatives from a variety of banks on campus who can help you open a bank account there and then (or in some cases get the process going)

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It should be noted that banks in the UK often have particularly restrictive identity checks and rules, so it is very important that you attend ISOP in person and bring the necessary documentation with you, if you want to open a bank account. You are advised to bring the following:

  • Both originals and photocopies of your passport and visa
  • A Statement of Student Status and UCL Student ID, which you will obtain during enrolment
  • Your BRP, which you will obtain prior to enrolment

Please note, because there may be long waiting times, it is important that you bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses for your first month in the UK. For safety reasons, it is not a good idea to bring large sums of cash; look for alternative options such as using Travellers Cheques, pre-paid cash cards and paying tuition fees online. If you are on a programme of 6 months or less, it may not be possible to open a bank account in the UK.

For further information, please take a look at our ISS page on opening a UK bank account and the local bank account options detailing their requirements. UCL doesn’t recommend or endorse any particular bank, nor do we have any influence over the types of accounts banks offer to students.


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