New Students

Students from outside the UK

In this section, you will find information for students from outside the UK about setting up a UK bank account.

Comparing banks, accounts and requirements 

Many aspects of opening a student bank account will vary from bank to bank. These aspects include details such as:

  • the type of bank account available to you in terms of an overdraft, fees, charges and additional perks
  • the type of documentation required to present in the branch (for example, passport, letter of study offer from the University, proof of address)
  • the length of time expected to get the bank account fully set up
  • the minimum expected length of stay in the UK

Many UK websites compare different student bank accounts, including:

Best Bank Accounts 2022 (Save the Student)

Student bank Accounts (Money Saving Expert)

Bank Introduction letter

When opening a UK bank account as an international student, most UK banks will require a 'bank introduction letter' from the University to the bank. This is a letter confirming your residence in Edinburgh and your attendance at the University. The bottom of the letter lists the banks that accept this letter. You may be able to upload it as an electronic copy as part of your application, instead of needing to print it. 

University accommodation 

You will find your Bank Introduction Letter in MyEd under your 'My Accommodation' after you have checked in.

Private accommodation

You will find your Bank Introduction Letter in MyEd under your 'Student Record' after you have completed matriculation.

How do I get a bank Introduction letter? (EdHelp website)

Setting up a bank account online

Due to Covid-19, some banks are offering opportunities to open a bank account before you arrive in the UK or without going into a branch once you are in the UK.

Before you arrive in the UK


HSBC are encouraging international students who are existing HSBC clients to open accounts prior to arriving in the UK.

Key documents you will need to set up an account include:

  • identification
  • visa (status dependent)
  • proof of home country address. 

Other additional documents may be requested, subject to qualification, status, local laws and regulations.

Studying in the UK (HSBC website)


Revolut is a digital-only bank that will accept customers from:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
  • United States

Revolut website

Important points to remember

  • We do not recommend that you bring lots of cash to the UK or store cash in your room. We strongly recommend that you arrange a digital or international bank solution and bring enough amount of cash for your first few days - to cover transport from the airport, to buy food and other general expenses.

  • You will not normally be allowed to open a bank account until you arrive in the UK, but some banks are providing exceptions due to Covid-19.

  • In order to ensure that you have sufficient funds available for the first five weeks after arriving in the UK, it is sensible to bring some travellers’ cheques with you which you can easily cash in at any bank.

  • Your account will not normally offer an overdraft facility. You will only be able to withdraw the amount of money you have deposited in your bank account. 

  • In addition to the proof of the address of where you will be staying in Edinburgh, you may be required to provide proof of your home country address. The website of each bank will have information on whether this is necessary. 

  • You may also be required to provide a reference letter from your bank in your home country, written in English, providing details on your credit status.

  • As banks differ in what they require from international students, it is advisable before leaving your home country to look at the websites of some of the main banks to see what documentation they require.

  • If you find yourself in financial difficulty, do not hesitate to seek help as soon as you can:

Contact the Advice Place

Contact the Scholarships and Student Funding team

How long will it take?

Some accounts can be opened during just one appointment in the bank branch; others take longer, varying from bank to bank and the type of account you open.

You should enquire with each bank how long it normally takes from application to using your account. Be prepared for the process to take up to two weeks or longer. It will help to prepare all of the necessary documentation in advance to ensure a quicker process time.

Tips on opening a bank account (UKCISA)