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.
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, 271kB).
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:
Update your address details online
Your letter will take your address details directly from StudentInfo.
If you live in University-managed accommodation
If you have an accommodation contract to live in University-managed halls, you should only produce a bank letter when you are currently resident in your University accommodation. If your address details in StudentInfo show that you are temporarily elsewhere, your address may appear incorrectly on your bank letter.
Students who live in University-managed accommodation cannot update their address for that accommodation themselves. It is automatically populated based on data held by Resilife.
If you live in private rented accommodation
You must keep your home and term address on StudentInfo updated - including your flat or room number, if applicable.
If you need help updating your addresses, download How to update your address in StudentInfo (PDF, 554kB)
If you are in temporary accommodation (before moving into your permanent accommodation in Bristol)
HSBC, Santander and Lloyds Bank will accept your temporary address on a letter to open a bank account. You must give them your permanent address when you move in.
Other banks will only open an account if you have your permanent address.
Temporary accommodation includes:
- a hotel
- someone else's house
It does not include an overnight hotel stay before checking-in to University accommodation.
You can produce a bank letter with your temporary address if you need to. Once you move into your permanent accommodation, you can produce a new bank letter if necessary.
Check your name appears correctly
As part of the online registration process, you must check that your name appears correctly on your student record. You can also log into StudentInfo to check how your name is recorded.
If you need to make changes to your name, contact your Faculty using the details in the 'Get help if you have questions or problems' section below.
Only registered students can produce a bank letter. You must complete the full registration process (including both online registration and the Start your studies form) before you can produce a bank letter.
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.
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. TSB will normally require a paper copy of your bank letter.)
Get help if you have questions or problems
Help from the Global Lounge team
The Global Lounge team can give you general advice about opening UK bank accounts, including features of different accounts. Email email@example.com
We will be moving into physical space from 13 September (open Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm). You can visit us to get help or advice.
Or you can come to one of our Welcome Lounge - ask me anything drop in events. These take place Monday to Friday, 11am to 2pm from 13 Monday September to 24 Friday September. During this time there will be a lot of staff in the Lounge to support you.
Online help with UK bank accounts
You can find further information about UK bank accounts on these websites:
- British Bankers’ Association (BBA) guide for international students
- UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) guidance on opening a bank account
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.
Contact the Centre for Academic Language and Development. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Foundation Programme students
Contact the Centre for Academic Language and Development: email@example.com
Study Abroad & Erasmus+ students
Contact the Global Opportunities team: firstname.lastname@example.org
International students on all other programmes
Contact your Faculty:
Faculty of Arts students
Faculty of Engineering students
Faculty of Health Sciences students
Faculty of Life Sciences students
Faculty of Science students
Faculty of Social Science and Law students
All undergraduate and postgraduate students: email@example.com
If you are still not sure how to sort out your bank letter problem, email: firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to help you.