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Opening a bank account in the UK

How to open an account, and why it's a good to have one

Using a bank account is the safest and most effective way of managing your money and making or receiving payments, so you should definitely open a bank account once you arrive in the UK.

You'll need a UK bank account for day-to-day transactions like purchases, withdrawing money and paying bills by direct debit.  Opening your account may take up to three weeks, so make sure you have access to any money you'll need during this period.

You'll need the following documents:

  • Proof of your identity (such as your passport or EU identity card)
  • If you're from outside the EU, your student visa in your passport or Biometric Residence Permit card (BRP)
  • Your University of Portsmouth student ID card
  • Bank supporting letter confirming you're a registered student
  • Proof of local address – such as your halls of residence contract
  • A halls room allocation notice or tenancy agreement from an approved letting agency

The bank where you wish to open an account may ask you to start the process online and then ask you to visit one of their branches to complete the process.

Each bank may have different requirements to open an account for an international student.

Most banks require international students to show a bank letter from the University before they will open an account for you.

Regulations change often, so we strongly advise you to visit the banks and get the most recent information about the different accounts and services they offer. You should make an informed choice about where to open your account, because you may find it difficult to change bank accounts later in the year.

Obtaining a bank letter

Once you've chosen a bank to join, you can request your bank letter through your Student View. You will need to be registered as a student first, before you can generate a letter.


If you're here for less than 6 months, or if you're on an exchange programme, you will only be able to open an account with HSBC, Barclays or Santander.

If you're a visiting scholar, please email us at global@port.ac.uk to request a letter.