Banking information for international students

Opening a UK bank account

UK banks are able to open accounts for European and International Students and having a UK bank account is essential if you are studying in the UK for more than six months. 

Choosing a bank account

We advise that you compare a few banks, and ask them what types of accounts they can offer you before you make your choice.   

All banks provide a cashpoint card to allow you to obtain cash from machines 24 hours a day. Most banks will provide a cheque book to students but you may need to request one. Cheques are rarely used in the UK but can still be useful for making some payments.

Opening a bank account

Check with your bank but normally you will need to give details such as your full name, nationality, contact details and date of birth, proof of address (e.g. a recent utility bill, tenancy agreement). 

There are many banks in the UK which offer accounts for international students, for information on opening a bank account, please see the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

Compare bank accounts here.

Opening a digital bank account

You will be told what you need to provide and it’s likely you’ll have to provide a photograph and scan/copy your documents to them as they don’t have physical branches.   Not all digital-only banking apps offer current accounts. Some only offer a prepaid card, which you top up and spend like you would a normal debit card. 

Not all of the companies offering digital banking are banks. However, these companies are required by law to hold all of your money until you want it. This means that if you topped up a prepaid card with £100, the money is safeguarded and sits on your card until you spend it.

It’s easy to check if the company is a bank or not - they have to be a bank in order to offer current accounts. If they offer a prepaid card only, they may not be a bank. Make sure you read about the company before you apply for an account.  If you want to pursue digital-only banking, it’s important that you choose a company that is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

Managing your bank account

You may have different options for how you want to manage your money:

  • Face to face – going in to your local branch and speaking to a bank employee;
  • By phone - contact your bank by phone to ask for help or advice with your finances;
  • Online/app – access your bank account and conduct transactions 24/7 online.

Visit the UKCISA website for more information.

Students on short courses or exchange programmes

It is not always possible for students on short courses or exchange programmes to open bank accounts because of banking regulations.

You may find it best to use cashpoints (ATMs) and draw from a bank account you have in your home country, or consider other forms of currency exchange such as traveller’s cheques or prepaid credit cards to cover the duration of your time in the UK.

Further information on banking and finance for international students can be found on the save the student and UKCISA websites.  See the full list of banking termininology explained and list of banks around Birmingham


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