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How can international students open a bank account in the UK?

How can international students open a bank account in the UK?

by Jenny Shippen

Opening a student bank account in the UK can be a great way to manage your spending and take advantage of financial offers for university students.

Read on to find out how to open a bank account as an international student.



  1. What is a student bank account?

  2. Why should I open a student bank account in the UK?

  3. How to apply for a student bank account


What is a student bank account?

A student bank account is a type of bank account used for everyday transactions such as withdrawing and depositing money, shopping, and paying bills.

Student bank accounts differ from normal bank accounts because they offer additional features specifically designed for those in higher education.


Why should I open a student bank account in the UK?

There are many benefits to opening a student bank account in the UK instead of using your bank account from home.


Prove you can support yourself

As part of your visa application, you will have already proven that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while at university in the UK. A UK bank account could help you provide financial evidence quickly and simply when you need it: for example, if you need to extend your visa.


No currency conversion fees upon withdrawal

Most banks charge a fee for converting your home country’s currency into British pounds. These fees can add up quickly if you keep withdrawing money from a foreign-based account. By opening a UK bank account, everything will be dealt with in British pounds, and you will save on those fees.


Get paid for part-time work

You can work up to 20 hours a week while studying on a Student visa, and your employer will need to pay your wages directly into your bank account. If you think you’d like to work while you’re studying, both for the experience and to boost your finances, you can search for jobs through JobsOC at Newcastle University.


Banking apps make money management more convenient

Most UK banks offer online banking through apps that can be downloaded onto your phone. This makes it much easier to keep track of your purchases, transfer money, and stay on top of your finances.


It’s easier to resolve problems

Everyone runs into problems now and then, such as forgetting your PIN (Personal Identification Number) or losing your card. If you have a UK-based account, your problem will likely be fixed with a quick phone call to your bank or by using your banking app, instead of enduring expensive long-distance phone calls to your home bank and possibly not having access to your money until the issue is resolved.




How to apply for a student bank account:

Applying for a student bank account couldn’t be easier – simply follow these three steps to help the process go smoothly.


Step 1: Research banks

While you may want to apply for a UK bank account as soon as you can, try not to be impulsive – it’s worth taking time to research your options.

Ask yourself the following questions when researching banks:


  • "What bank accounts are available to international students?”

Not all banks will offer student accounts to international students. However, they may be able to offer you a UK current account instead. Speak to the bank, and they will be able to advise on the best options they can offer you.


  • “How much do they charge for sending or receiving money from abroad?”

If you anticipate sending and receiving money from home regularly, find a bank that charges lower fees for transferring money internationally.


  • “What offers are included with their student bank accounts?”

Most banks include offers to encourage students to open an account with them. These will vary from bank to bank, so it’s worth finding out what each has to offer.

They can include:

  • cashback incentives (earning back a percentage of money spent while shopping at certain locations)
  • student discounts for services, shops, and food, such as cinema tickets and takeaways
  • free rail cards for 16-25 year olds offering discounted UK travel
  • free subscriptions to services such as Perlego (online library)

  • “Does this bank observe Sharia law?”

Some UK banks offer accounts for Muslim students who wish to bank according to Sharia principles. If this is important to you, check the bank’s website to see if they offer this service.


Step 2: Prepare documents

To open a student bank account, you will need to provide:

  • a valid passport
  • your Student visa
  • evidence of your UK address, such as a tenancy agreement or a letter from your university confirming your address
  • a ‘Letter of Introduction for UK Banking Facilities’ from your university


Depending on the bank, you might also need:

  • a secondary form of ID, such as your birth certificate, driver’s licence, or student ID card
  • your 4-digit UCAS code confirming your place on your course
  • a UK phone number
  • a minimum amount of money to be deposited (this varies from bank to bank)


Step 3: Submit your application

Many UK banks will allow you to open a bank account remotely. If you would prefer the convenience of opening an account online or over the phone, look up the bank’s website and follow the instructions provided.

You may find it easier to open your account in person. Simply make an appointment by phone or by going to your local branch, taking all the necessary documents required by the bank with you. Newcastle has a number of banks within a short distance of campus, where staff will be happy to talk you through the process of applying for your first UK bank account.

After submitting your application, it can take anything from a few minutes to a few days for the bank to let you know their decision. If approved, you will be able to use online banking immediately.


We hope you have found this blog useful. For more information, read our website for advice on international student bank accounts and international money tips. If you have any more questions, contact Student Finance and they will be more than happy to help.

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