Setting up a Bank Account

What you need to know

Before asking for a bank letter you MUST update your address details in LSE for You

Opening a bank account can take time and some banks will only open an account for you after you are a registered student.  

If you wish to open a UK student bank account when you arrive in London please see the information below. 

All of this information is subject to change and does not constitute a recommendation. Document requirements can vary between branches. Always contact your chosen bank branch directly to confirm details prior to setting up an account to make sure you have everything you need.

1) Update your addresses in LSE for You as soon as possible

Some banks require documentation from LSE confirming your registration status. Check with your preferred branch what they require.

The bank will reject this documentation if it does not include your up-to-date contact and home addresses.  Update your address in LSE for You as soon as you have an address in London.   Be careful to list the address you live during term-time (usually in London) as your Contact Address and your address at home (or international address) as the Permanent Address, or the bank will reject your documentation.  

Also, keep in mind that banks require that your room number be included if you are living in halls of residence.  

2) Research the best bank account for you

It is highly recommended that you select a bank before you arrive in London to save time.  

Although LSE is unable to recommend a bank, we have included a list of banks and their websites below to help you get started.  

Check in advance to see if your bank at home has a branch near LSE, or if they have a special relationship with a bank in London. If you plan to transfer money into your new account, remember that transferring funds will depend on your home bank's procedures.  This can take more time than you expect.  Discuss this with your home bank before you leave and remember to bring sufficient funds, such as cash, travellers' cheques or credit cards to cover any delays.  To ensure your safety always avoid travelling with large amounts of cash.

You may want to consider how easy it is to open an account when making a decision about which bank is right for you.  For example, consider whether the bank will allow you to pre-book an appointment, and/or look for a bank that will accept your LSE offer letter as proof that you are a student when opening an account.  

3) Know what documents you need to open an account

This is the most important step!  Each bank branch requires different documentation to open accounts, and branches are very specific about the format of the documentation they will accept. Keep in mind that bank requirements change very frequently, so always confirm what you will need directly with the bank branch where you plan to open your account.

4) Request a bank letter from LSE (if needed)

Taught undergraduate and postgraduate students can request a bank letter or Certificate of Registration by clicking on this link and filling out the form.

You must be an unconditional offer holder or a registered student.  This document is not available to those with conditional offers.  Please note that some banks will not accept this letter until after you register. 

  • Log in to LSE for You and ensure that your Contact and Home addresses are up to date.  If you skip this step, your letter will be rejected by the bank. Be careful to list the address where you live during term-time (usually in London) as your Contact Address and your address at home (or international address) as the Permanent Address, or the bank will reject your documentation.  .  
  • Wait ONE HOUR after updating your addresses for the details to be updated in our database before requesting a letter.   

5) Make an appointment

You may be required to book an appointment in advance to open a bank account at your chosen branch.

Please note that this may also be time consuming because many students will also be setting up accounts at the same time and appointments near LSE fill up quickly.  However registering online in this way can save you time.

Some banks may allow you to book an appointment before you arrive in London, which can save you a great deal of time.  If you book an appointment in advance, ensure that you are a registered student, have updated your term-time address to your London address and have all the necessary documents to open an account.  Also, be sure that your bank appointment does not clash with compulsory events, lectures or seminars/classes.

Always give yourself enough time to obtain the documentation you will need.

TOP TIP: You may find that it is easier to book an in-person appointment at a bank branch further away from LSE or halls of residence. Once your account is set up, you can usually do business with any branch of your bank.


Additional tips for international students

  • International students may also find the information on UKCISA's tips for opening a bank account in the UK websites to be useful.
  • Ask your bank to send you printed monthly bank statements as these can be helpful if you need to make an application to extend your student visa. UKVI will not accept electronic bank statements.
  • Some banks may charge international students an initial or monthly fee.  The additional services provided will vary between each bank. Some banks will also offer a free, but more basic account.
  • If you are expecting to receive money from overseas, you should ask what charges may apply and how long it will take to make the money available in your account.
  • If you will be cashing cheques issued in other countries into your UK account (for example, US Loan Cheques), then be sure to check that this will not trigger your bank's anti-fraud procedures, which can result in your account being frozen for extended periods during an investigation.
  • If you plan on using a credit or bank card from your home country while you are in the UK, check before you leave home that your card is compatible with UK bank machines, or if there will be any additional charges.
  • Overseas students must typically be on a programme of study which runs a minimum of six months duration in order to qualify for an account.

List of Banking Options


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