How To Open a Bank Account in the UK

How To Open a Bank Account in the UK

Uploaded on
Sep 4, 2022
Last updated on
Mar 10, 2023
Uploaded on
Sep 4, 2022
Last updated on
Mar 10, 2023
How To Open a Bank Account as a Student in the UK
Master your own Finances!

Welcome to the world of secure and convenient banking! If you're looking to open a bank account in the United Kingdom, you've come to the right place. With a wide range of options available, you can choose the account that best fits your financial needs and goals. Whether you're a resident, student, or a business owner, there's a perfect bank account for you. In this guide, we'll take you through the steps to open a bank account in the UK, from choosing the right account to submitting the necessary documents. 

Students who desire to study in the UK for extended periods should open a UK student bank account. You can use your bank account to pay your rent, tuition fees, or other daily needs without additional costs. One alternative is to open a basic bank account, which will allow you to deposit and withdraw money and provide you with a debit card and credit card so you can withdraw and use money easily. Another alternative is to open an international UK student bank account exclusively for people coming to the UK to study.  So, let's get started!

Types of bank accounts

The financial world offers a variety of bank accounts, each serving a distinct purpose. In this section, we will look into the primary types of bank accounts and their intended usage.

Current accounts

A current account is a helpful tool for managing your finances on a daily basis. It allows for the payment of bills, receipt of income, and monitoring of expenditures. Some current accounts offer interest on the account balance, though this rate is typically lower than other savings accounts.

Savings accounts

In the UK, savings accounts provide a safe and secure way to store your money for future use, whether it be for unforeseen circumstances, big-ticket purchases, or simply for saving purposes. By depositing funds into a savings account, you'll earn interest on your balance, allowing your funds to grow over time.

Basic bank accounts

In the UK, those with low credit scores or low income may face difficulties in setting up a conventional current or savings account. This also applies to individuals who currently have an overdrawn current account. Fortunately, for those facing these challenges, a basic bank account in the UK may be a viable solution.

Joint accounts

In the UK, it is possible to establish a bank account with multiple individuals. This can be a practical solution for managing household finances with a spouse, partner, or someone you reside with. Establishing a joint bank account in the UK offers a convenient way to jointly manage expenses.

Choosing a bank

Unfortunately, determining the best option for a UK bank account can be a complex decision as the banking industry in the UK is highly competitive, offering a diverse range of products to cater to various customer segments. On one hand, this variety is beneficial as it increases the chances of finding a suitable bank account that meets the specific needs of students, professionals, or businesses. On the other hand, it's essential to take into account personal circumstances, preferences, and the purpose of the account when making a decision.

Things to consider when choosing a bank

As a newcomer to the UK, you may find it challenging to open a bank account due to your limited credit history and a lack of documentation. While some banks enforce strict requirements, it's typically easier to open an account with one of the UK's largest banks such as Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, or NatWest. These institutions have a long history of operation and are highly secure, with extensive experience in serving foreign customers and more understanding of your situation.

Your nationality also plays a significant role in the process of opening a bank account in the UK. EU nationals may find it easier to open an account compared to individuals from non-EU countries. To ensure a smooth process, it's recommended to contact customer support before attempting to open an account. This way, you can gather more information and clarify any potential obstacles.

Things to consider before opening a UK student bank account

  •  A multicurrency account can be beneficial because there may be no conversion fees.
  • In the age of handy mobile phone-based banking accounts, enable maximum security features such as fingerprint recognition and two-factor authentication (2FA) where available.
  • You might need to schedule an appointment with a traditional bank at your preferred branch, which may take some time.
  • If you need to extend your student visa, ask your bank for a posted monthly statement.
  • Some international student accounts may cost an opening or monthly fee, depending on the type of account.
  • Inquire about any fees imposed if you intend to receive funds abroad.

International students will also need to be mindful of forex rates while they take care of their finances. For more information on forex, check Forex Explained: Exchange Rates, Forex Cards and More

How to choose a UK student bank account?

Consider the following when looking for the most acceptable graduate bank account for your needs:
1. Overdraft protection for students.
2. Select the most extended 0% interest overdraft period available.
3. Examine the linked benefits of opening an account with a specific bank.
4. Before applying, check your credit score.
5. Create a plan to pay off your student overdraft quickly.
You'll have more flexibility with these than with a basic account, but there may be a monthly account charge or a minimum balance requirement. In exchange, you could receive benefits such as free international money transfers or foreign cheque deposits. However, it is still improbable that you would receive any credit for this choice. If you created an international student bank account in the UK at the beginning of your degree, it would be converted to a graduate bank account.

How to open a bank account in the UK

To open a bank account in the UK, you must complete an application form, which you can submit in-person at a branch, online, or over the phone. The bank will require proof of your identity, including your full name, date of birth, and address. You must present two separate documents, such as your passport and a recent bill, that verify your identity and residence. If you do not have the required documents, the bank may accept a letter from a trustworthy individual who is familiar with you, such as a GP, teacher, social worker, or probation officer.

Opening a bank account in the UK is a straightforward process, but the exact steps may vary depending on the bank you choose. Here is a general guide on how to open a bank account in the UK:

  1. Choose a bank: Research different banks and compare their services, fees, and interest rates to determine which one is the best for you.
  2. Gather required documentation: Most banks will require proof of identity, such as a passport or national ID card, and proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement.
  3. Visit a branch or apply online: Some banks allow you to open an account online, while others may require you to visit a branch in person. If you choose to visit a branch, make an appointment in advance to avoid waiting in line.
  4. Complete the application process: During the application process, you'll be asked to provide personal and financial information, including your employment and income information.
  5. Fund your account: Once your application has been approved, you'll need to transfer funds into your new account. This can typically be done through a bank transfer, direct deposit, or by using a debit card.
  6. Start using your account: After your account is funded, you can start using your debit card and online banking to manage your finances.

Note that each bank may have its own specific requirements and application process, so it's always a good idea to check with the bank you choose for more information.

How to open a UK student bank account?

Opening a bank account as a student in the UK is similar to opening a bank account as a resident.If you want to register an account before arriving in the UK, you can do so online. The majority of banks support the online approach. However, keep in mind whether you are opening an international or a UK student bank account. Further documents may be required. There are numerous banks in the United Kingdom, but the simplest way to limit things is to look at what the various banks provide students.

Another thing to consider when you open a UK student bank account is which banks are open on your university's campus or the surrounding area so that you won't have to travel far to resolve any issues with your account. One of the primary factors that can help you differentiate between banks is the amount of interest-free overdraft the bank offers. The maximum amount you can spend without incurring interest is the overdraft limit. 

Benefits of Opening a Student Bank Account in the UK

  • You won't be charged currency conversion fees if you withdraw money
  • You will be issued with a debit card which you can use everywhere instead of cash
  • You can withdraw money 24/7 from any ATM
  • You can register for telephone and internet banking
  • Crediting money will be easier for your employer if you have a UK bank account
  • Using a bank card to make purchases is the most common way to make payments in the University and the UK. Some retailers and outlets do not accept payment in cash.

Requirements for opening a bank account in the UK

To open a UK bank account, you’ll need two documents: one to prove your identity and one to prove your address. This applies both in-branch and online.

Proving your identity is simple. You just need your passport, driving license or identity card (if you’re an EU national). You’ll also have to prove your address by providing another document. Every bank has its own list of documents that are acceptable as proof of address. Broadly speaking, these include:

  1. a tenancy agreement or mortgage statement;
  2. a recent electricity or gas bill (less than 3 months old);
  3. a recent (less than 3 months old) bank or credit card statement that’s not printed off the internet; or
  4. a current council tax bill.

Requirements for a UK student account

When opening a UK student bank account, you should confirm the specific criteria with your chosen bank when you apply. Some of the basic documents you will require while applying for a UK student bank account are: 

  1. A passport
  2. A valid visa for your studies
  3. Proof of acceptance to your university's programme
  4. Evidence of your UK address

Best banks for a Bank account in the UK

Here are some of the best banks to open an account with in the UK : 


Barclays, one of the UK's oldest banking institutions, boasts over 1500 branches across the country. If you're new to the UK and seeking to open a bank account, Barclays offers a straightforward process. You can even pre-apply for an account online prior to your arrival in the UK. Upon approval, your new Barclays bank account will come equipped with a complimentary contactless visa debit card and will not incur any fees. However, to activate your account, you'll need to visit a Barclays branch in person and present your reference number, passport, and proof of address.


Lloyds, the top provider of current accounts in the UK, operates approximately 1100 branches nationwide. As a newcomer to the UK, you can easily open a bank account with Lloyds. They offer a special " New to the UK '' account that requires only a passport or EU identity card for setup. This account is complementary and comes equipped with a standard contactless Visa debit card.


HSBC boasts over 1100 branches throughout England and Wales and a smaller number in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Its greatest strength lies in its worldwide presence, operating in 64 countries. If you are already a HSBC customer in your home country, they can assist you in setting up a UK bank account before your arrival. The basic current account at HSBC offers basic day-to-day banking needs with no monthly fees and a convenient contactless Visa debit card. Withdrawals up to £300 per day are allowed, but it's important to keep in mind that this account doesn't include an arranged overdraft.

NatWest Group

As a holder of a UK Select current account, you enjoy free usage and receive a standard contactless Visa debit card. In case of a lost or stolen card, you can still access your funds through the emergency cash service by simply providing a security code. The bank's customer support team is available to assist you with your application and answer any questions through a live chat.

Best banks to open a UK student bank account with

There are many different banks in the UK for you to choose from. To make your choice easier, we have highlighted some of the best banks to choose from when you open a UK student bank account. 


Go for The Barclays Student Additions Account (International) if you want to send and receive money from overseas, as it is the best international student bank. It also offers some of the top UK bank current account deals. You must be 18 and enrolled in a two-year undergraduate or one-year postgraduate course in the UK to qualify for this bank account. This account's sending and receiving costs are among the lowest. There is a £6 transaction fee when sending/receiving money outside of Europe or when it exceeds the £100 limit.


An HSBC Basic Account, while not designed exclusively for overseas students, can be opened by anybody with an EU address. It makes it simple for international students in the UK to have a bank account. Account holders can send money to other HSBC accounts for free and non-HSBC accounts in euros. The basic bank account does not allow for overdrafts. Therefore, stay within your financial constraints. To qualify for an HSBC Basic Account, you must reside in the EU, be older than 16, and have no other accounts in the UK. HSBC is one of the best foreign student bank accounts in the UK.


The Lloyds Classic Account is the best bank account for students in the UK for an overdraft facility. The facility is free to set up, but there is a daily fee when you use the facility. As with many other international student bank accounts, sending and receiving money in Euros is free. You must have a UK address, be over 18 and be able to stay in the UK for at least one year to be eligible for this bank account.


The Natwest International Student Account is one of the few banks accounts only accessible online in the United Kingdom. It is the UK's second-best international student bank account. This account is mainly available to international students studying in the United Kingdom. With this bank account, you can send money abroad for free. Furthermore, you get to choose one of three options:

  • a year of Amazon Prime student membership
  • a four-year national express card with a third off all coach travel
  • a four-year free tastecard with a 50% discount on food in restaurants throughout the UK

You must be 17 years old or older and have lived in the UK for fewer than three years to qualify for this bank account. The Natwest International Student Account is among international students' best UK bank accounts. 

That was all you need to know about how to open a UK bank account. We know that moving to a new place can be daunting, so we’ve tried our best to help you make a smooth transition! We hope you’ve found this blog useful and feel better prepared to take on your finances in a new country. For more helpful resources on how to manage your finances as a student, click here

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bank to open a student bank account in the UK?
Can international students get a student bank account in the UK?
What is the cost of opening a student bank account in the UK?