Arranging money for when you arrive
Why open a UK bank account
Opening a bank account in the UK is not compulsory. However, there are benefits to opening a UK bank account, such as not paying transaction fees for cash withdrawals or bank transfers.
You might also consider opening a UK bank account if you’re planning on making any regular payments in the UK by direct debit, including:
Paying your mobile phone bills – If you want a UK number, you can use pay-as-you-go, but if you prefer a contract, you can only pay by direct debit from a UK bank account. Find out more about UK phones and SIM cards.
Paying your bills – Most utility companies will expect you to set up a standing order from a UK bank account to pay your bills.
Speak to your local bank before you leave home
Speak to your local bank in your home country and let your bank know that you’re coming to the UK. If you don’t tell them you’ll be overseas, they might think your card has been stolen and block your account.
Ask your bank if they have a bank in the UK, they might be able to offer services while you study in the UK or help you book an appointment with a local branch.
Many banks require you to be in the UK to complete the process of opening your account. However, some banks could allow you to open an account from your home country. For example:
- If you live in China, Bank of China can help you to open a UK account before coming to the UK.
- Customers who have a relationship with HSBC in their home country can use HSBC’s International Banking Centre (IBC) network to open a UK account before they arrive. This is available to customers in 29 countries, and the average time required to process this before you come to the UK is two weeks.
Research bank accounts as early as possible
It may take two to three weeks to open a bank account and transfer your money once you arrive in the UK.
Before you leave home, spend some time looking at the bank accounts on offer to you and check where in the city your branch of choice is. It can take some time to find the bank that best matches your needs – doing some research before leaving home will help you make an informed choice once you arrive in the UK.
Some digital banks allow international students to open an accont with them. Research digital banks options and consider opening a bank account with a digital bank before you arrive in the UK.
Even if you would rather have an account with a high street bank in the long term, we recommend arranging a temporary account for you to use in your first few weeks. You can use this for basic needs such as food, living expenses or paying your rent once you arrive in the UK and it’ll allow you to safely access your finances without having to carry cash with you.