Students Staff

Opening a bank account

We recommend that you seek advice from your bank before you come to the UK. You can ask their advice about running a bank account in the UK, what methods of transferring money are available and how much it will cost. You may also want to ask if your bank has any special relationships with banks in the UK, and if you can use your cash card in UK cash machines.

It is not always straightforward to open a bank account in the UK as different banks have different policies and some banks will charge a monthly fee for certain accounts. It can take at least two or three weeks to open a bank account, so you will need to ensure you have enough money with you for this period. There is often more than one type of bank account available, so make sure the account you choose is the right one for you.

About banks and accounts

The Money Advice Service have produced some very useful information about choosing and running a bank account in the UK.

Banks in the UK must, by law, carry out checks on your identity and so cannot always open an account for you. Please note that on any documents or cheques your name must be written exactly as it appears in your passport.

All the major banks usually have branches in town centres. In Colchester and Southend most banks are located in the High Street. There are currently branches of Santander and Lloyds TSB located at the Colchester Campus.

Opening an account

All banks will need proof of your identity, this can be your passport and valid visa (entry clearance vignette or Biometric Residence Permit) or; if you are from the EEA (European Economic Area), your national identity card.

You may also need to provide a letter of introduction from the University (a bank letter) and/or other documents as proof of address such as bank statements or utility bills, this will depend on the bank you choose.

Find out which documents you will need to open an account and how to request a bank letter from the University.

In Loughton you'll find various banks located nearby, contact your Student Services Hub for more information.

If you are arriving in October, please note that the University will only be able to produce a bank letter for you from the start of Welcome Week.

If a bank won't open an account for you

Banks have their own policies and procedures for opening accounts and the University is not able to influence a bank to open an account for a student. If your preferred bank refuses to open an account for you we recommend you try an alternative bank. Once you have operated a UK bank account for a month you should be able to open an account more easily elsewhere.

All UK banks are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and must operate in accordance with their requirements and those of the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group.

Credit cards

There are two major types of credit cards, Visa and Mastercard, which are widely accepted in Britain. American Express and Diners Club charge cards are also fairly widely accepted. Credit cards may also be used in other European countries. You may wish to check with your home bank if your current credit card can be used in the UK.

Money you'll need while waiting for your account

You should bring an easily accessible source of money (travellers cheques or cash) for your day-to-day living expenses whilst your account is being opened. A sum of £600 should be enough for the first four weeks. This should enable you to buy books and other essentials, as well as to socialise.

Please do not bring large denominations of travellers cheques or sizeable amounts of cash. Please note that some banks will not accept €500 notes. If you bring a large amount of cash into the UK you may need to declare it at the border, see the UK Government website for more information.

More information and guidance

UKCISA produce helpful information for students on many different issues including opening a bank account.