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Opening a UK bank account

Please scroll down for further information on how to open a UK bank account if you are an international student.

Before you arrive in the UK
Do you need a UK bank account? Things to do before leaving home
Keeping your money safe
Avoid carrying or storing large amounts of cash in your first weeks
Digital or international banking solutions
Alternatives to cash for your first weeks in the UK
UK banks in the local area
Includes links to local banks
Documents needed
Typical documents for a UK bank account
Banking vocabulary explained
Jargon buster tool
Managing your money
Plan your budget

Click on the titles below for more information

Here are some things which you can plan and research before leaving home

  1. Decide whether you need or want to open a UK bank account.
    If you plan to make any regular payments in the UK by direct debit (e.g. tuition fees or a phone contract bill) then you would likely need a UK bank account.
    This external link contains a blog, which may help you decide whether you need a UK bank account.
  2. Research the available bank accounts as early as possible.
    Spend some time looking at the bank accounts on offer to you - so that you can make an informed choice once you arrive in the UK.
  3. Check if you can open an account before you leave home
    - Some examples of banks in the UK which offer such services include HSBC and Bank of China. Remember, other banks are available, and the University does not recommend any particular bank or bank account to you.
    - Speak to your local bank in your home country to see if they can offer you any services while you study in the UK, or help to book an appointment with a local branch if they also have a bank in the UK.
  4. Plan how to keep your money safe!
    If you are arriving in September, you may have to wait 4-6 weeks for an appointment at a local branch near the University campus when you first arrive, so consider some alternative solutions for managing your money while you wait for your appointment for a UK bank account.
      It is NOT safe to carry large amounts of cash with you – either when entering the UK, or in the first few weeks when you first arrive.
    • Make sure you know which documents you will need in order to open your chosen bank account.
    • After arriving in the UK, you may still have to wait 4-6 weeks for an appointment at your chosen UK bank. In the meantime, we strongly recommend that you look into an alternative banking solution to avoid having to carry large amounts of cash.
    • We would urge you to take the same precautions in the UK as most people would in their home country – do not carry large amounts of cash with you, or store it in your room. If you must carry large amounts of cash, try not to display that you have a lot of money with you, as it could be stolen.
    • We’d recommend that you carry a small amount of cash for your first week – enough to cover transport from the airport; emergency accommodation if you need it; food and local transportation for a few days.
    • Check the UK Customs information if you are planning to bring large amounts of cash into the UK with you, as you may need to declare it to the Customs official at the airport when you enter the UK.

      In recent years, many digital banking solutions have become available, which allow you to have an online banking solution from abroad, before arriving in the UK.

      Even if this is not a good solution for you in the long term, it is worth considering having an account like this for your first few weeks, to avoid carrying a lot of cash (thefts of cash can, and do happen, even to Warwick students!)

      Remember that these tend to be online or telephone services only, so you wouldn't have a local branch to go to in case of difficulty.

      As this is often not the same as opening a UK bank account, you may need to check with your provider if you will be able to set up Direct Debits to a UK account.

      Below are some links to such providers - please remember to check their terms and conditions carefully, to make sure that these banking solutions can meet your needs, and that they are regulated by a recognised financial regulatory body (e.g. the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
      The University does not recommend any one account to you.

      Please be aware that some of these accounts may not be available if you live outside the EU or EEA.

      1. Aspire Bank Account
      2. Revolut
      3. Monzo
      4. Some global banks also offer an international bank account. Examples of banks which offer such services include HSBC and Bank of China. Remember, other banks are available, and the University does not recommend any particular bank or bank account to you.

        Alternatively, try speaking to your bank in your home country to see if they offer an account which could meet your needs.

         

      It is important that you pick the right account for your circumstances. The University does not recommend one bank or another to you. Instead, here are some important questions to consider, in order to help you make your decision:

      • How far away is the local branch? – consider how important this is for you, since many transactions can now be done via online banking.
      • Is there a cost of receiving money from; or paying money to an overseas bank account?
      • Are there any fees for opening the account? If there is a fee for opening the account, are there any extra benefits (e.g. interest rates; or lower fees for overseas payments?)
      • Is there a minimum course length requirement? (some bank accounts require you to be on a course which will last at least 12 months in order to be eligible for the account)
      • Will I be able to have an overdraft? Will it be a credit or a debit account? (You may find the Jargon buster tool helpful to understand the difference)
      • Will I be provided with regular bank statements, which meet the Home Office requirements for a visa application? (This will be important in case you ever need to apply to extend your visa from inside the UK.
      • What other benefits can I get with this bank account? Some banks offer additional benefits for opening an account with them. Carefully consider whether the additional benefits are useful for you and your circumstances.
      • When can I open the account? If you are applying for a student bank account, you may (depending on the bank's requirements) need to wait until you have fully enrolled on your course at University before you can open the bank account. Similarly for a UK bank account, you may need to wait until you can show proof of a UK address before the account can be fully used.
         
      The table below shows some banks who have branches in the local area. Please consider the accounts carefully, alongside the 'key considerations' listed in the section "Choosing the right bank account for you."
      For information on how to get to banks in the local area, please see our information on local buses and transport.
      Bank
      Local branch finder
      (the central campus postcode is CV4 7AL)
      Information on current accounts Notes
      Barclays

      Barclays branch finder

      Student Additions Account (international)

      The branch on campus offers limited service during summer months. Other branches are in the local area.

      Santander

      Santander branch finder

      Santander current accounts

      The branch on campus is closed during summer months. Other branches are in the local area.
      HSBC HSBC branch finder HSBC Bank Account You may have an opportunity to open an account from your home country.
      NatWest

      NatWest branch finder 

      International Student Account

      Paid account offers a choice of gifts. Alternatively offers a choice of current accounts with no monthly fee.
      Lloyds Lloyds branch finder Classic Account Branches available in the local area.
      TSB TSB branch locator Classic Account Branches available in the local area.
      Bank of China Local branch in Birmingham Student Prime Account Offers the possibility to open a debit account from China; and collect the debit card from a local branch in the UK.

      The University does not recommend one bank or another to you. However, you may find some of these external comparison sites useful:

      Save the Student- international student bank account comparison

      Money Saving expert - information on sending money abroad

      Please note that this list is not exhaustive and we always recommend that you do your own research too.

         
      Different banks will accept different types of documents, so it is important that you check the documents required for your chosen bank account.
      These are the most commonly required documents to open a UK student bank account.
      • Proof of identity (ID)
        E.g. a passport, UK drivers licence, National ID card, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card.
        The ID document usually needs to contain your photo, and most banks will also want to see your BRP card (if you have one) as proof of your immigration permission in the UK. If you're booking an appointment with the bank, it is a good idea to allow yourself enough time to collect your BRP card once you have arrived in the UK, so that you can attend your appointment with your BRP card.
      • Proof of (UK) address
        Many banks will ask for proof of a UK address in order to open a UK bank account.
        E.g. a recent utility bill; bank statement; UK driver's licence (if this was not already used as your proof of identity).
        Some banks will accept a student status letter as proof of your UK address; whereas others may not. Some banks will accept a recent tenancy agreement as proof of address, whereas others may not. It is important to check with the bank's e.g. on their web pages to make sure you collect the correct documents.
      • Proof of student status (if you are applying for a student account)
        If you are applying for a Student Account, you may need to collect a Student Status Letter shortly after enrolment. Alternatively, some banks may accept a Student ID card offered by the University, or a confirmed conditional or unconditional offer letter, or UCAS confirmation of your offer for your course.
        The accepted documents vary between banks, so please check the required documents carefully.

      If in doubt, take as many different types of proof as possible, and check with your chosen bank if they will accept your documents.
       
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