Opening a bank account for non-UK students

You can normally open a current account with a single visit or appointment to the bank, if you have the required documents and information, which is normally just a SOAS bank letter, your passport and for those with Student visas your BRP/evidence of visa.  

Student Advice and Wellbeing does not issue bank letters. Bank letters can be requested via the online Student Information Desk (SID).

Your ATM/debit card will arrive by post 4 or 5 days later.  However, at the start of term, there is sometimes a delay before you can get an appointment, or long queues of students opening accounts, so make sure that you have enough cash to pay for essentials before you can access your account.

Your bank card is normally a combined debit card and ATM card. A debit card allows you to pay by card in shops – the amount is debited automatically from your account. it is not a credit card. An ATM card allows you to make cash withdrawals from cash machines, usually located in or outside banks. 

Transferring money

Before transferring any money ask what the charges will be and how long the transfer will take. Try to plan your finances so that you can use the cheapest and most convenient form of transfer to get money from home. If someone transfers money into your account they should keep copies of all the relevant documents in case there is any dispute with the bank in the future.

These are the main methods of transferring money but they may vary in different banks so check carefully before you arrange to make a transfer.

Electronic Transfers

Are the easiest way to transfer money from your home country. The money is transferred directly from a bank in your home country to your bank in the UK.

Bankers Drafts

Are slower than electronic transfers, but cheaper. The bank in your home country draws up a draft which is sent to you by post and which you then present to your bank in the UK.

Things to be aware of...

Getting money quickly

If you need to get money quickly there are several reliable and established companies that provide a very quick money transfer service. Transfer time can be as little as 10-15 minutes. However, be careful as the transfer charges may be high.

Changing cash

If you have foreign currency, change it at a bank or the Post Office where the charges will be less than in a Bureau de Change. We would advise you against travelling with large amounts of cash.