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Opening a bank account

Last updated: 10/11/2023 08:45

You need to undertake several steps to open a UK bank account.

The following instructions will advise you on how to open a bank account before you arrive in the UK.

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 enrolling online. Online enrolment will start 3 weeks before you arrive at the university.

When you arrive at the university, we advise you collect your Student ID at the earliest convenience. By collecting your Student ID card, you officially become a student at Cardiff University.

Your Student ID serves as proof of identity on campus, grants you library and e-learning access and the ability to gain entry to university buildings, and it allows you to generate a banking letter.

There are plenty of different banks available to you to open a UK account. As a university we are unable to provide recommendations. However, Save the Student has created a useful Top UK bank accounts for international students page on their website.

You should check in advance that the Bank you have chosen will accept our generic Bank letter. We are unable to provide letters that are addressed to specific Bank managers or to specific branches.

We are aware that Nationwide does not currently accept our generic letter.

You will need to provide the bank you choose with a letter confirming your student status and correct term-time address. You can update your address and request a bank letter through SIMS online.

Lots of students have their bank account applications rejected because their addresses are incorrect. Make sure your ‘Current Address’ is your Cardiff term-time accommodation and not your address from your home country. You also need to make sure your address is formatted correctly.

Most UK addresses are laid out as follows:

  • Building name (this should also include a flat/house/block number):
  • Street:
  • Town / City:
  • Nation: (Cardiff is in Wales)
  • Postcode (zip code - the Cardiff postcodes start with CF):

In SIMS click ‘Generate a bank letter’ under the ‘My proof of enrolment’ section. A copy of the bank letter will be emailed to you as a PDF and will also be stored in your student record in SIMS online.  You must keep the email as some banks will require it (see below).

Watch a short video on how to generate a bank letter and change your contact details in SIMS online.

While most bank accounts can be opened online, you might be required to go into the branch in order to complete the process. If you do, make sure you bring a digital or physical copy of your bank letter. At busy times in the year, especially in the autumn term, some banks have a waiting time to open accounts.

Single-semester exchange students

If you are an exchange student and completing a placement at Cardiff University for six months or less, your banking options are more limited.

Transferring money to the UK

Electronic transfer is the easiest way to send money from your home country to your UK bank account.

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 document is 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.