If you’re embarking on studies at King’s as an international or EU student, opening a bank account in the UK is the safest and most convenient way to manage your money.
You should be able to open a ‘basic bank account’ with a number of different banks. A ‘basic bank account’ provides easy access to banking facilities for adults in the UK. Additionally, some banks offer a bank account tailored specifically for your needs as an international student.
Important to know:
- You will need to provide evidence to be able to open a bank account – banks usually require several bits of documentation.
- It may take a few weeks to get your bank account fully set up.
- Your debit card and pin number will be sent to you in the post, so you will need a confirmed UK address.
- Make sure you bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses for your first month in the UK.
In this article we address some common questions from international students looking to open a bank account:
- Which bank should I choose?
- Where can I open a bank account?
- What do I need to open a bank account?
- I have just arrived in the UK and I don’t have a permanent address yet – can I open a bank account?
- My programme of study is less than 6 months – can I open a bank account?
- Can I get printed bank statements?
- What is the best way to bring money with me into the UK?
- Can I open an account based on Sharia principles?
- I need some further guidance
Which bank should I choose?
We cannot recommend a specific bank, it is down to you to do the research and see which will be the best option for you given your circumstances. All banks will normally offer you a basic current account to begin with and may offer you further services after you have banked with them for some time.
UKCISA provide more information and useful links on their website about opening a bank account.
We also recommend visiting blackbullion.com (code: MONEYSMARTER) and start their FREE "Starting University" online course and watch their useful video on "How to open a bank account".
Further to this, we recommend reading Student Bank Accounts with MoneySavingExpert and look at further Free online resources on banking with Blackbullion to help you choose the right bank and account for you
Where can I open a bank account?
You will usually need to visit the bank branch, there are many banks within walking distance of all King’s campuses. Once your account is all set up, you can use any branch belonging to that bank for banking in-person. However to set up your account, you may find it easier to use a branch local to a King’s campus, as these branches tend to be more familiar with King’s students and King’s documents.
A number of high street banks now also process account opening online. Once you have chosen your preferred bank, you’re best to check their website for their process on opening an account.
What do I need to open a bank account?
What you need to provide varies depending on which bank you choose to open an account with, but generally most banks will require identification (Passport or visa), Confirmation of Study and proof of address in the UK (e.g. letter from King’s, utility bill, housing contract).
If you’ve been asked to provide various documents, including proof of your address, you may find this article helpful - I need to prove my address.
How to obtain your Confirmation of Study letter:
- You must be fully enrolled at King’s to be able to get your Confirmation of Study letter. This means all your details have been checked and all your enrolment tasks have been completed. If you need some guidance on enrolling please read our article I’m a new student, how do I complete online enrolment?
- Your UK and overseas addresses need to be up to date. For guidance on how to do this, see How do I update my address on my student record?
- Check the spelling of your name. It must be identical to the spelling on your identification. If your name is incorrect in any way on your record, please contact Registry Services who manage enrolment and your record. Banks are likely to reject your Confirmation of Study letter if the name there does not match your other official documentation (passport, BRP).
Struggling to access your Confirmation of Study letter?
If you’re having any issues accessing your letter on your student record, please refer to our article I need to prove I’m a student which addresses some of the common causes of not being able to download the letter.
Important to know: Always check and make sure your letter has the correct information before presenting it your bank.
If you’ve read the above guidance and you are still struggling to access your letter, you may wish to log a case and Student Services can help you.
I have just arrived in the UK and I don’t have a permanent address yet – can I open a bank account?
You will need to find a permanent address before you can open a bank account. When you find accommodation, make sure you update your address in Student Records and apply for a bank account as soon as possible.
My programme of study is less than 6 months – can I open a bank account?
Not all banks will consider students who are in the UK for a short period of time. You will need to do some research and see which banks might offer you an account.
You may wish to look into obtaining a Prepaid cash card instead but be aware of the charges and limitations of these cards when making purchases or withdrawing cash.
Can I get printed bank statements?
We recommend that you opt in for printed statements, rather than online, as the UKVI will request these if you apply to extend your visa.
What is the best way to bring money with me into the UK?
Ask your bank in your home country to give you a cheque in sterling (UK pounds £). The cheque will take a few working days to clear once you have paid it into your new bank account. You can also use Travellers Cheques which can be cashed at the Post Office or high street bank but do check the fees charged.
Alternatively, you can transfer money from home once you have opened a bank account. Make sure you bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses for your first months in the UK. Only travel with the cash you will need for a couple of days, it is not advisable or safe to travel with large amounts of cash.
Can I open an account based on Sharia principles?
Check bank websites and publicity materials. Some mainstream banks offer accounts and services that meet these principles. Al Rayan Bank is approved by the Sharia Committee. The Money Advice Service has further information you may find helpful.
I need some further guidance
If you at all unsure about banking in the UK and you would like to have further guidance, you can always get in touch with the Money Advice team and we will be happy to support you.