One hand holding debit card while other hand types on laptop

Opening a UK Bank Account

Opening a UK bank account is usually top of any new international student’s to do list. There is information on our main webpages about the process, and how to request a University Certificate of Status for your chosen bank.

The key thing to bear in mind is that you will need to be in the UK and have fully enrolled on your course before you can open an account. Please make sure you will have access to money for when you first arrive to tide you over until you can open an account. Cash is accepted in most UK shops, but it is not accepted on University of Brighton campuses. As such we recommend you check with your bank to see if you can use your credit or debit card in the UK, or look into pre-paid debit cards to bring with you.

You will see that most UK banks offer a Student account, which comes with an interest free overdraft and other incentives like a one off cash payment or rail discount card . Unfortunately these are only available to UK students, or overseas nationals who have been in the UK for at least 3 years. The main kind of account available to international students is a ‘basic’ bank account. These accounts will allow you to pay money in, and withdraw money and pay for things using a debit card. They do not allow you to have an overdraft or any kind of credit.

Which? is one of the main UK consumer websites – they have a guide to the main basic bank accounts in the UK.

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