Opening a bank account

To open an account with most UK banks, you'll need a letter from us confirming your contact details and your passport.

You will also need to complete application forms at the bank.

How to open an account

Using your Cardiff University username and password, log in to SIMS and follow the instructions. If you need help, follow our step-by-step instructions to enroling online.

Take your passport to the 4th floor of the Students' Union where our enrolment team will issue you with a student ID card and bank letter (if you're planning on opening a Santander account, you'll only need your ID card and passport).

The enrolment team will be there to help from Monday 12 September until Friday 23 September 2016. They'll be checking your visa and that your personal details are correct on our record system, so please make sure you have a copy of your student ID number to hand.

If the name and date of birth listed in our system doesn't match those on your passport, please ask a member of the enrolment team to change it for you on our record system, as a bank will not open an account for you otherwise.

A member of the enrolment team will then scan your passport and issue your student ID card, along with four different bank letters. These you can use to open an account at:

  • HSBC
  • Barclays
  • Lloyds
  • Another bank of you choice - we will give you a general letter you can present at any other UK bank.

When you go to pick up your student ID and bank card, a member of the enrolment team will give you an information sheet about each bank to help you choose which would be best for you.

What you'll need

Santander

To open a Santander account, you'll need your Cardiff University student ID card and your passport. You don't need a bank letter.

HSBC

You'll need your passport and HSBC bank letter. You won't be eligible for a HSBC bank account if you're an international student and have a visa for less than 12 months. They will not accept a PO box number for your home address.

Barclays

You'll need your passport and Barclays bank letter. You won't be eligible for a Barclays bank account if you're an international student and have a visa for less than 12 months. Barclays will not accept a PO box number for your home address.

Lloyds

You'll need your passport and Lloyds bank letter. If you needed a visa to enter the UK, you'll only be eligible if you have a Tier 4 Student Visa (and not a Student Visitor Visa). They will not accept a PO Box number for your home address.

NatWest

Your passport and bank letter (addressed to you). You won't be eligible for a NatWest bank account if your course is less than six months in duration. They will not accept a PO Box number for your home address.

Offers for students

Every bank has different offers for students. Most banks have a limited number of accounts for international students and some charge an annual fee. Most banks also provide online banking and the following services:

Debit card

Most banks issue a single card that is a combined cash card, allowing you to withdraw money from cash machines (ATMs), and debit card that allows you to pay for things in shops and over the internet.

To use the card, you'll need a PIN number from the bank. Do not let anyone else see this number – make sure you memorise it and then destroy it.

Bank statements

This is a record of all activity in your bank account over time. The bank will post these statements to you, but you'll also be able to view them online. It's important to keep these paper statements, because you'll need them if you want to extend your student visa.

Direct Debits and standing orders

These allow you to pay for goods and services by regular payments (often monthly) through your bank account. For example, you can pay for your University residence fee by Direct Debit.

You'll need to book an appointment with a member of staff at the bank to fill in the application forms. It will take at least an hour to complete them, or perhaps longer if there are a lot of other students in the bank doing the same thing. Be prepared to wait.

If you are likely to need to apply for a visa extension, please do not choose a paperless bank account, because you'll need to have paper copies of bank statements to send with your visa application. Don’t throw your statements away. It can take a week to get a duplicate bank statement – so make sure you keep them.

Transferring money to the UK

The easiest way to send money from your home country to your UK bank account is by electronic transfer.

To do this, the bank in your home country will need your:

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

Banker's draft

You can also transfer money using a banker’s draft. This is a document drawn up by the bank in your home country and sent to you by post. You'll then present the banker’s draft to your bank in the UK. Before you transfer money, ask what charges will be made by the bank and how long it will take.

Make sure that you keep copies of the relevant documents in case there is a dispute with the bank in the future.