Banking and Insurance

Opening a bank account   

The majority of international students are eligible to open a 'basic' bank account at a number of different banks and in some cases, may be eligible for a 'current' or 'student' account.  

It is advisable to shop around and pick a bank whose services meet your individual requirements.

Banks are usually open 9.30am-4.30pm daily and closed at weekends and on public holidays, although some banks are open on a Saturday morning.

Before leaving home 

Speak to your bank in your home country before you leave for the UK. Ask your bank for advice on running a bank account and find out:

What methods are available for transferring money, including the security of each method and the costs involved

  • Does your bank in your home country have a special relationship with a bank in the UK? If so, can they help you to set up an account?
  • Can you use your home bank cash card to withdraw money from your account at a UK bank machine? If so, what charges will you incur?

International students do not always find it straightforward to open a bank account in the UK as banks have specific policies and conditions that must be adhered to.

It is safe to assume that it will take at least two to three weeks to open a bank account and you should ensure that you have access to the money that you will need during this period by making arrangements similar to those you might make if you were a tourist. Bring travellers cheques with you, and possibly a credit card and cash card. Do not carry large sums of cash or keep large amounts of cash in your accommodation.

Opening an account in the UK  

In order to open an account you will need proof of your identity and confirmation of your address in the UK.

  • For proof of identity you may use your passport, National Identity Card if you are from an EU country or Biometric Residence Permit if you are from a non-EU country.
  • As evidence of your current address you could request a letter from your university/college stating that you are enrolled as a student and confirming your UK address. A tenancy agreement or student accommodation contract may also be acceptable.

It is important that you discuss your banking needs in full with an adviser at the bank so that you are offered an appropriate account.

The major UK banks represented in Basingstoke are:

Barclays Bank:



Lloyds Bank:

NatWest Bank PLC:

Royal Bank of Scotland:

What services can I access with a basic bank account?  

A basic bank account allows you to pay in and withdraw money, and pay bills by Direct Debit.  You will be given a cash card so that you may access your money through cash machines. You may not be able to access credit or overdraft facilities.

Keeping track of your money  

You will receive regular statements from your bank, detailing any payments made to your account and any withdrawals. The statement will also show the balance of your account, that is the amount of money available to you. You may also print mini-statements and check your balance at cash machines.

Do I pay for the services I use? 

Most services are free but you may be charged for using cash machines that are not owned by your bank. Any charges payable will be displayed on the screen before you proceed with your transaction. You may also incur charges on direct debit payments if there is not sufficient money in your account.

It is important that you discuss your needs in full with an adviser at the bank so that you are offered an appropriate account.

Useful links:

Transferring money to the UK  

The easiest way to send money is by electronic transfer of funds from a bank in your home country to your UK account. To do this, the bank in your home country will need:

  • Your UK bank's name and full address
  • Your name as given on your UK bank account
  • Your UK bank account number
  • Your UK bank's sort code.

Money can also be transferred using a banker's draft. This is a document drawn up by the bank in your home country and sent to you, which you then present to your bank in the UK.  

Before you transfer money you should find out what charges the banks will make for the service, and how long it will take.

Bank drafts drawn in pounds sterling are quicker to process. It is advisable to photocopy any cheques/drafts that you bring with you to retain for your records.

You should also check whether your home country restricts the amount of money you may transfer to the UK, if you need permission to transfer funds ensure that you seek it and obtain any necessary documentation before leaving for the UK.

We advise that you carry no more than £200 in cash to cover your immediate needs upon arrival in the UK. You should also bring in travellers' cheques and a credit card or cash card (for use in ATMs in the UK) so that you have access to money while you wait for your UK bank account to become active.

Medical/health insurance  

Students coming to the UK for a course of 6 months or more are entitled to receive full health care provided by the National Health Service (NHS) on the same basis as other UK residents from the day of their arrival in the UK.

You should be aware that charges are made under the NHS for medicines, eye care and dental treatment.

If you are coming for a course of less than six months, you will be entitled to NHS treatment only if you are from a EEA Member State or from a country with a reciprocal health agreement.

All students and any accompanying family members should complete form E128, which is available from your own national authorities. If you do not complete the E128 form, you will only be eligible for treatment for illnesses that become evident while you are in the UK.

All international (non-EEA) students coming for courses of less than 6 months with no reciprocal health agreement will need to obtain health insurance prior to coming to the UK.

Even if you are eligible to receive NHS treatment, you may wish to take out health insurance that covers the cost of repatriation in case you need to be flown home because of serious illness or death.

Endsleigh Insurance (see below) offers health policies for international students studying in the UK.

Personal possessions insurance 

You are strongly advised to insure your personal belongings against theft, loss and damage before coming to the UK. Many companies specialise in low cost insurance for students. Endsleigh Insurance Company recommended by the National Union of Students (NUS) has a policy designed for International students studying in the UK.

For information on policies and insurance costs, visit the website

We strongly advise you to shop around for the most competitive quote.

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