Bank Accounts

Things to consider when opening a bank account in the UK.


Opening a bank account can take some time, so please make sure that you have enough money with you to live on for at least three weeks while you open your account.

Before you leave home:

  • Let your bank know that you are planning to study abroad.
  • Speak to your bank about your banking requirements
  • Ask about links your bank may have with UK banks as this will make the process easier if it is an option for you.
  • Ask about charges you might incur on your credit card if you use it during your study abroad period.
  • Consider what credit card you’re currently using - Visa and Master cards are most widely used here – some other credit cards may not be accepted
  • Think about opening a Pay Pal account before you leave home.  This should make it easier to pay for online purchases during your studies.

Before you leave home you may also want to check out UniZest's Aspire account and Travelling with Monzo.

UK banks must make a status check on all new applicants for a current account, they can not open an account for a person who requires immigration permission to be in the UK and who does not have it, so you will be expected to prove that you have valid immigration permission.  We recommend that you research what is on offer by the UK banks and how they differ from your bank at home.

Please bear in mind that:

  • You cannot open a bank account until you are in the UK and have enrolled on your course at Ulster University.
  • It can take several weeks to open a bank account so please ensure that you have sufficient finances to cover your expenses in those first few weeks.  You might consider bringing a travel card or credit card with you.  Please do not carry large amounts of cash or keep large amounts of cash in your room.
  • The bank will ask you for proof of identity (current passport), proof of your address in your home country and proof of your address in the UK.
  • After registering onto your course at Ulster, we will be able to give you a letter that will assist you in opening your bank account.  This letter confirms that you are a full-time student at Ulster and is required by the bank.
  • You should be able to withdraw cash using your bank card at a cash point (ATM).
  • Credit and debit cards are widely used in most shops or alternatively you could consider loading a pre-paid debit/credit card before you leave home and bring that with you – but check with you bank about any possible fees.
  • If you have a UK bank account then withdrawing cash from an ATM is free.

You will find more helpful information here. You may also want to check out Money Saving Expert for information on pre-paid cards.