Opening a bank account - International and EU students

Orientation week is a busy time for banks, so please be prepared to wait to be seen or for an appointment to be available. Appointments can be made in advance of your arrival by calling the bank of your choice.  Where possible start your application online - this will greatly speed up the opening of your account once you arrive in St Andrews. 

Please note that many banks will be unable to open your bank account until you have moved into your permanent St Andrews address, i.e. you will not be able to open an account until you have moved into your Hall of Residence.

Banks will require a number of documents to open your account, including 

  • valid passport
  • university bank letter (available to download from E-vision once you have arrived in St Andrews) 
  • biometric residence permit (where applicable).

Some of the banks may take longer than other to open a bank account and you may be given an appointment several days later.  You can start using your account as soon as it is open.  You will usually receive your debit card and PIN number within 3-5 business days of opening the account.

Most banks will issue you with a basic account for the first period of time you are in the UK.  However, if you are here for 6 months or less, then they may not allow you to open an account. 

If you can open a basic bank account, you will be able to:

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

There are five banks in St Andrews:-

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

There are also a number of mobile app based solutions that may be more suitable for your needs -  Monzo and Curve information or Bank Acct Comparison Chart 2019 (PDF, 152 KB)

Please note:-

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. If applying to the Nationwide your tenancy agreement will have to send in the UK post from your Letting Agent to your term-time address. For further details check with the local branch.

All banks are required to check the identity of anyone opening a bank account as part of the 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 therefore delay the opening of the bank account so please be patient.

Making a deposit

Take cash and/or 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, the name, address and post code of your bank,  and, if it is an international transfer,  the bank’s IBAN number.

If you are bringing your family with you to the UK, it is advisable for your spouse to have an account in their own name in the UK.  During the visa application stage, any adult dependents of students need to show that they have their own money in an account in their own name, unless they are named as a joint account holder in the UK.  Opening a joint account in the UK can be difficult as the banks will need proof of address for your spouse, and accommodation contracts, issued by the University, are only in the student’s name

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, of course, you have the correct PIN.  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.

Transfer of funds

This is the quickest way to transfer funds directly into your UK bank account from your home bank. Please note that there will probably be a charge for this service and that it must be organised with your bank at home either by yourself in person, on the phone, by fax or from your parents at home.  Because of this, it is very useful to bring your home bank’s details with you, including telephone number and fax number.   Check with your home bank what the charges will be and what information they will require.  Normally this type of transfer takes two to three working days for the funds to be deposited into your account in the UK.

Bringing money into the UK

Some countries restrict the amount of cash that you can take out of your home country.  Please check if your country has such a restriction.  In any event, it is recommended, for security purposes, that you only bring a small amount of cash with you.  Bringing travellers’ cheques with you is a far safer way of carrying money.  Please do not bring a cheque drawn on an overseas bank as this can take up to six to eight weeks for the funds to become available in your bank account.  If you do wish to bring this type of cheque, please note the timeline before you can access these funds, and you should bring enough funds by alternative means, like travellers’ cheques, to cover this length of time.

If you experience any difficulties opening your bank account, please contact our Money Advisers at Student Services, or call in at the Advice & Support Centre, 79 North Street.