Open a bank account in the UK

To open a UK bank account you need to choose which bank is right for you.

To open a bank account you need to be registered as a student.

It can sometimes take two weeks or more to open a bank account. Plan your finances to take this into account. 

Benefits of having a UK bank account

  • If you receive a University of Bristol scholarship to help with your living costs, you need a UK bank account for it to be paid into. 
  • It will make accessing money easier and safer.
  • You will not be charged transaction fees when withdrawing cash.
  • It may be easier to pay for some UK-based services, such as mobile phone contracts.
  • It is more secure to withdraw small amounts of cash than to bring a large sum and keep it in your accommodation. We strongly advise against this.
  • 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.

Open a digital bank account

A digital bank account is an account that can be opened online without needing to physically visit a bank.

The TransferWise Borderless Account for Students offer free UK and EU online banking accounts. You can open one of these accounts without having to provide proof of address or have a minimum UK stay limit. 

Decide which bank to open an account with

Banks have different processes for opening an account. They may require different documents and have different eligibility rules. The banking handbook provides further information to help you choose the right bank account for you.

Download the banking handbook

The University’s banking handbook provides further information to help you choose the right bank account for you - download the banking-handbook (PDF, 276kB)‌.

Before you produce your bank letter

To open an account, most banks require a bank letter from the University to prove you are a student with us. 

You will need to decide which bank you are opening your account with before you can produce your bank letter.

You can produce your own bank letter online once you have completed the following actions:

How to produce your bank letter

Once your details are correct and you have fully registered, you can produce your bank letter. You can produce a maximum of three copies of your bank letter. 

Produce your bank letter

If there is incorrect information displayed on your bank letter, or some information is missing, you should check that you have completed the steps in 'Before you produce your bank letter' above. If you are unable to resolve the problem, contact your Faculty using the details below.

Your letter is a PDF document which can be downloaded. Your chosen bank will let you know if they can accept an electronic version, or if you need to print out a copy of the PDF. (NB. NatWest and TSB will normally require a paper copy of your bank letter.)

Get help if you have questions or problems

The Global Lounge team can give you general advice about opening UK bank accounts, including features of different accounts. Email global-lounge@bristol.ac.uk  

You can find further information about UK bank accounts on these websites: 

Problems producing your bank letter

If you have problems producing your bank letter, or you have already produced three bank letters and need another one, contact us for help. 

Pre-sessional students

Contact the Centre for Academic Language and Development. Email: cald-pre-sessional@bristol.ac.uk.

International Foundation Programme students

Contact the Centre for Academic Language and Development: ifp-help@bristol.ac.uk

Study Abroad & Erasmus+ students

Contact the Global Opportunities team: global-opportunities@bristol.ac.uk

International students on all other programmes

Contact your Faculty:

If you are still not sure how to sort out your bank letter problem, email: global-lounge@bristol.ac.uk who will be able to help you.

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