Opening a bank account

Most banks will provide overseas students with a basic account when they are in the UK. However, if you are here for six months or less your options may be more limited.

If you are allowed to open an account it will be a basic bank account. This will mean you will be able to:

  • access cash via a cash machine.
  • set up direct debits or standing orders.

You may be able to open a student account which will provide additional services such as overdraft facilities and a credit card. However, students who have had previous credit problems may not be able to open a student account.

You should choose a bank which has a branch in St Andrews which can be more convenient for certain transactions such as transferring funds.

University Bank Letter

Please note that the University's Bank Letter is for use with bank branches in St Andrews only (excluding Barclays who are not accepting the letter at this time).

Choosing a bank

There are four banks in St Andrews:

All of these banks have arrangements with both English and overseas banks.

There are also a number of online and app-based banks that offer accounts to students. You can read an overview and a review of the main providers on the Save the Student website. Santander also offer student accounts that can be opened online.

How to apply

Many banks now offer an online account application process; please check the website of your bank of choice for details. Applying online will speed up the account opening process once you have arrived in St Andrews.

Students need to take the following forms of identification to a bank in order to open an account:

  • passport
  • appropriate visa or biometric card (a biometric card is only issued to students that have made a visa application from within the UK)
  • letter from the University – this can be downloaded via MySaint.

The downloaded bank letter can only be used at the above five local bank branches in St Andrews as they have an agreement with the University.

If you are opening a bank account with the Royal Bank of Scotland and you are not living in University accommodation, you do not require the above letter from the University but you do require a copy of your tenancy agreement.

If your term-time address is not within the University residence system, you may be required to provide a copy of your lease or tenancy agreement as confirmation of your term-time address.

All banks are required to check the identity of anyone opening a bank account as part of the UK government strategy to combat organised crime with anti-fraud legislation. This involves rigorous checks for all individuals who may wish to open bank accounts. This may delay the opening of the bank account so please be patient.

How to open a bank account

  1. Present your documentation to the member of staff in the bank who will assist you in completing the appropriate application form.
  2. The application will normally be approved and the number of your bank account will be allocated within one to two days. Only at this point will the bank be able to start processing deposits and withdrawals. Until you have received your card from the bank, you can complete transactions at the branch where you opened your account using your passport.
  3. Within five to ten working days, you should receive your bank card. This is normally sent to your St Andrews address, or you can pick this up at the branch. Once you have this card, you can make deposits and withdrawals in other branches of your bank.
  4. Within another five working days, you should receive your security number (PIN). This is normally mailed to your St Andrews address or you can pick it up from the branch. Once you have your PIN, you can complete transactions using the cash machines around the UK. Never tell anyone else your PIN.

If you experience any difficulties opening your bank account, please contact the money adviser at Student Services by emailing or call in at the Advice and Support Centre (ASC) at 79 North Street.

Making a deposit

Take cash and cheques into your bank, complete a pay-in slip and hand it over to the cashier. Cash will be in your account on the same day as you deposit it at your branch. Cheques can take up to five working days to clear if the cheque is drawn on another UK bank account. If someone else is paying into your bank account, he or she will need to know your account number, sort code, account name, and the name, address and postcode of your bank – and if it is an international transfer, the bank’s IBAN number.

Please remember you will need available funds initially for transport, meals and general living costs.

Credit cards

Most banks will accept Mastercard, American Express, Eurocard and Visa. These can be used to withdraw cash from cash machines, provided you have the correct PIN number. Please check if you are thinking about bringing another credit card or a prepaid credit card as not all banks or businesses will accept them.