One of our international students (Rohit, WBS Master's Programme, Class 2023) shared their experience about opening a banking account when they came to the UK. Hope their authentic experience helps your journey to open your bank account in the UK.
Q. What did you do before leaving home?
- To ensure I had funds available upon arrival, I obtained a Prepaid Card, a Forex exchange card in India. This allowed me to easily convert Indian Rupees to GBP.
- I promptly booked a collection date for the BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) when Welcome timetable opened, as it was a crucial document required for opening a UK bank account.
Q. Why did you want to open a UK bank account?
- It serves as a valid proof of address for various processes and documentation within the UK.
- Since many students engage in part-time jobs while studying, having a UK bank account becomes essential. It enables employers to deposit payments directly.
- It is also necessary to transfer tuition fees. Many students prefer transferring funds from their international accounts to their UK accounts to make fee payments, reducing transaction surcharges and allowing them to store significant amounts of money in the account.
Q. Which bank and account did you choose and why?
- My main priority is finding one with a fast and easy account opening process and so I didn’t have other preferences. For some students it would be based on factors such as requiring fewer documents, speed of the process, and any special savings options tailored for students. For example, I found that Barclays Bank involves multiple documentation requirements and visits, which may not be as convenient.
- Ultimately, I ended up selecting HSBC because their waiting period was shorter, and I could apply directly on their website. Although there are other banks available, I didn't consider them due to longer waiting periods. If someone is exploring other options, it's recommended to contact their customer service and inquire about their waiting periods.
Q. What documents Link opens in a new windowdid you need to open this bank account?
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card copy
- Passport, VISA, and CAS letter (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)
- Completed bank application form (online)
- Face capture via webcam (using my phone)
- Student status letter from the university – After collecting the BRP card, I downloaded them via My Student Records (e-vision) portal and selected the correct bank from the drop-down and this auto-generated the status letter. This process is straightforward. Some bank requires an ink stamp and you can get it stamped from the Student Information Centre in Senate House.
- Accommodation proof, such as a rental receipt or accommodation contract
- A UK SIM card – In order to enter the UK phone number during the application process.
Q. Is it an online application?
- Indeed, yes, most banks now provide an online application option. Simply follow the instructions provided on their website. When I opened my account in HSBC, I provided facial capture using my phone, and the entire process is online.
Q. Did you have to visit a local branch in person?
- No. However, after filling out the online application, I can see that it may take an additional 15-20 days for the account to open. I didn’t want to wait that long and so I visited the HSBC local branch in Coventry city centre first thing in the morning and opened my account that way. It was quite fast as they already had all my details on file.
- Please note that some banks may require personal verification of documents and biometrics and so it’s a good idea to find the detailed requirements beforehand.
Q. How long did it take to receive your bank card?
- After submitting my online application and visiting the branch in person with all the required documents, the bank account was successfully created within 48 hours. However, it took an additional 2-3 days to receive the physical card, and the PIN sheet arrived a few days later. For me, the entire process took about a week but it took much longer for some of my friends.
- I have friends who have chosen to open a digital bank account such as Revolut. These digital banks also offer a virtual bank card which you can then link to your Google Pay or Apple Pay for convenient use.
Q. Why are there long queues outside of local banks during September and October?
I was talking with my friends about this as well. We think there were a few reasons for this:
- Some banks had cancelled appointments for student queries and instead asked students to visit the bank on a first-come, first-served basis during the 5-6pm slots. During this time, the bank was resolving application process errors that occurred online or addressing any other issues.
- During September and October, there was a significant surge in the number of students seeking to open bank accounts, leading to a higher influx of applications online. However, the online process took much longer in comparison to the in-person visit option, prompting more students to opt for the offline route, which also helped in resolving errors and issues more effectively.
- Additionally, many students chose the offline process because it allowed them to open a bank account more quickly.
- I was told banks in smaller towns near campus, for example, Kenilworth or Leamington Spa, much less busy and so you can also look into this.
Q. Do you have any tips to share?
- To begin, there's no need to worry if you are facing delays with opening a traditional bank account. If you require a quick solution, you can easily opt for a digital bank account like Revolut, Monzo, or Starling Bank. The process is incredibly straightforward and swift, allowing you to open an account within just 15 minutes from the comfort of your home.
- Subsequently, when you decide to open an account with a traditional bank, it's advisable to complete the online process and upload all the documents online. This approach significantly streamlines and expedites the overall procedure, ensuring a smoother and faster experience when you visit the bank in person if any issue arises