practical matters: banking in the uk


Bank of Scotland Head Office, Edinburgh

By flickr user Anosmia

If you are studying in the UK for more than a semester, I highly recommend opening a bank account when you arrive. It will save you money on international transaction fees and is easier for paying bills. Also, if you decide to work while studying, you will need a UK account to receive direct deposit.

When you visit the bank, you will probably have to schedule an appointment to set up an account. You should get an appointment within the next couple of days. You will need to bring the following to your appointment:

  • your passport
  • your unconditional offer of admission letter from the university
  • evidence of your home address, such as a bank statement (preferably in English)
  • evidence of your Edinburgh address, such a utility bill or tenant’s agreement. At the University of Edinburgh, you can contact the International Office to request a letter verifying your address.

As an international student, your account options are limited and vary from bank to bank. If you can, I recommend setting up a current account because it gives you immediate access to your funds and offers the best services. For most accounts, you will receive an debit/ATM card. Depending on your bank, you may also qualify for a credit card.

I suggest doing a bit of research and visiting several different banks before you commit to one. I visited a few banks before deciding on Llyods TSB. I chose this bank because it offered the current account option to international students. The Lloyds current account includes mobile insurance, travel insurance, and card protection, which are free the first three months, and £15 a month thereafter. This account also includes a debit card which you may use anywhere in Edinburgh free of charge. Lloyds also allowed me to obtain a credit card with a £750 limit for free.

The account options and services of Lloyds TSB may be different in other parts of the UK and will certainly change over time, so I strongly recommend visiting other banks before you sign up for an account.


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