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Opening a bank account

International banking

In the UK many places accept card payments only due to the pandemic. Therefore, you should arrange an international bank account or bank card to be able to make card or online payments once you arrive in the UK for basic for basic necessities, such as food shopping, takeaway meals, paying tuition fees, etc. Mastercard and Visa cards are widely accepted in the UK.

Solent University does not promote, recommend or endorse any particular bank or establishment, and the text below is for information purpose.

Some global banks offer an international bank account Examples of banks which offer such services include HSBC and Bank of China. Alternatively, try speaking to your bank in your home country to see if they offer an account which could meet your needs.

You may be able to arrange a digital banking solution from abroad. Examples are listed below, but there are many options available. Please be aware that some of these may not be available if you live outside the EU or EEA.

Please remember to check their terms and conditions carefully, to make sure that these banking solutions can meet your needs, and that they are regulated by a recognised financial regulatory body (e,. the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.

Opening a UK bank account

Please be aware that it is important to open an account as soon as possible after arriving, as it can take up to three weeks to complete the process. As well as keeping your money safe, an account will also prove useful when it comes to paying rent and securing property.

As you cannot open a bank account until you have enrolled on your course at the University and have an UK address. You should make sure that you bring enough British currency and traveller’s cheques to last for the first two to three weeks. It is also useful to bring credit and debit cards. Do not carry large amounts of cash around or keep large amounts of cash in your accommodation.

What you will need to take to the bank

  • Proof of ID. This could be your passport, UK drivers licence, National ID card, or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card. The ID document usually needs to contain your photo, and most banks will also want to see your BRP card (if you have one) as proof of your immigration permission in the UK. If you're booking an appointment with the bank, it is a good idea to allow yourself enough time to collect your BRP card once you have arrived in the UK, so you can attend your appointment with your BRP card.
  • Proof of (UK) address. Many banks will ask for proof of a UK address in order to open a UK bank account, eg, a recent utility bill, bank statement, UK driver's licence (if this was not already used as your proof of identity).
  • Student status letter. A bank letter from the University following enrolment on your course. You can request your letter after enrolment online.

There are various types of accounts available to international students. Most have no monthly charges but some offer you additional benefit for a monthly charge. We would recommend you find out about different accounts on offer at a number of banks before settling with one.

Banks near to the University

High street banks and their locations in Southampton

Barclays Bank
425-427 Shirley Road, Southampton, SO15 3TH
106 Burgess Road, Southampton, SO17 1TW

Metro Bank
Westquay Shopping Centre, Above Bar, Southampton, SO15 1QD

63-65 Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7DZ

Lloyds Bank
92-94 Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7DT

68 Above Bar Street, Southampton, SO14 7DS

Royal Bank of Scotland
156 High Street, Southampton, SO14 2NP

19-21 High Street, Southampton, SO14 2DF


The international student planning tool created by British Council may be helpful when planning to live in the UK. 

Top tips to help you save money

  • Credit cards and store cards are good only if pay off the balance when your bill comes or at least make the minimum payment each month.
  • Avoid eating out regularly. Try cooking with friends!
  • Avoid underestimating.
  • Buy fruit and vegetable from grocery shops.
  • Be careful to stay within your overdraft limit if you have one.
  • Be realistic about your spending patterns.
  • Don't forget to include occasional payments such as haircuts.
  • When you go shopping for food, buy supermarkets own-brand food.
  • Limit unnecessary expenditure for example - walk/cycle or use public transport instead of taking a taxi.
  • Keep your bank statements and letters. You can monitor your spending with them and they are also very important documents.
  • Write things down in a 'spending diary' if you're unsure where your money goes each week.

Check out the student funding pages for further information

If you still feel your finances are getting the better of you or you need help with your budgeting, please speak to our funding adviser in the Student Hub.