Welcome new students

Banking and insurance

A pile of silver coins on foreign bank notes

Money matters

Banking and the way that people use money may differ from what you're used to and when you move to the UK you’re going to need a bank account, to pay your living costs and rent, tuition fees, or receive money from home.

You may find it useful to open a UK bank account as it can be easier to manage your finances plus it gives you have a safe place to keep your money, provides financial evidence for your visa application, and allows a business to pay you your salary if you decide to get a job whilst studying.

As well as banking you may also need to take out an insurance policy; insurance gives you financial protection in case of accidents or unforeseen problems when travelling.

We’ve put together some information to help you understand your options when it comes to your finances and insurance cover.

UK bank accounts

Banks in the UK are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and must operate in accordance with their requirements and those of the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group. They also have their own policies and procedures to follow and will carry out relevant checks to decide what account you may be eligible to open.

The FCA have some useful information for consumers about opening a bank account in the UK. UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) also produce helpful information for students about opening a bank account including a student blog addressing some common queries.

Opening a UK bank account

Some banks and app-based accounts may allow you to open a bank account before you arrive in the UK, whilst other banks will let you start the application online, but you will then need to complete the process in-person when you are in Essex. It’s a good idea to check the website of each bank for information before you start applying.

Monito have an article detailing the differences and benefits of both traditional and non-traditional (online) bank accounts which we would encourage you to read. Please be aware that some of these may not be available if you live outside the EU or EEA. You will find some useful tips on opening a UK bank account for international students in this Save the Student article.

Some global banks offer international bank accounts including HSBC and Bank of China. Please note that other banks are available, and the University of Essex does not recommend any particular bank account.

Proof of identity

  • your passport or;
  • if you are from the EEA your national identity card (please be aware that some ID cards are not acceptable).

Proof of immigration status - Non-EEA students

  • a valid visa/immigration document – vignette* in your passport or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

*Please note, if you were issued with entry clearance overseas and have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to collect when you arrive, you’ll need to do so before you can open a bank account. If you chose the University of Essex, Colchester Campus as your collection location our International Services team will email you to let you know when they have it and how you can collect it. Read our immigration pages for more information.

You may not be able to open a UK bank account if your visa is valid for less than 6 months, unless you are going onto further study in the UK.

Letter of introduction

Most banks will also require a letter of introduction from our University (certificate of registration), which must be in exactly the same name as your passport and visa (if applicable).

Once you are registered, your certificate of registration will be available electronically for you to access at any time and share with third parties. This document can be used to confirm that you are registered student, to register for council tax exemption or reduction, to open a bank account or to confirm your current status as a student.

In order to view your document, you will need to access your Gradintelligence account.

See information here on how to access your certificate of registration and accessing your Gradintelligence account.

After applying for a bank account

What to do if an application is refused

If you are not able to open an account with your first choice of bank, we recommend you try elsewhere. Unfortunately, our University does not have any influence over a bank’s decision.

Read the Financial Conduct Authority website for information about your rights including how to make a complaint.

If you’ve been refused due to your immigration status read the government guidance and leaflet. If you believe that you have a valid visa/immigration status and you are a registered University of Essex student contact our International Service team for advice.

Money you'll need while waiting for your account

You should bring an easily accessible source of money for your day-to-day living expenses whilst your account is being opened. A sum of £400 should be enough for the first couple of weeks.

Please do not bring sizeable amounts of cash as you won’t have anywhere to safely secure it until you can open a bank account. Please note that some banks will not accept €500 notes. If you bring a large amount of cash into the UK you may need to declare it at the border, see the UK Government website for more information.

If you plan on using your current debit or credit card once you arrive in the UK it is important to to notify your bank before your travel that that you will be using your card to make payments abroad. This reduces the likelihood of your bank card being blocked which could delay your registration process.

If you are paying your own tuition fees, you should also ensure that you have sufficient funds to pay your first term's fees. Please note that you will not be able to pay your tuition or accommodation fees by cash. In addition, contactless payment methods are accepted across the whole campus and contactless is our preferred payment method.

Banks near to your University of Essex Campus

All the major UK banks have branches located in the town centre of all our campuses.

Credit cards

There are two major types of credit cards widely accepted in the UK, Visa and Mastercard. You may wish to check with your home bank if your current credit card can be used in the UK.


There are many different insurance providers in the UK who offer various types of policies. Before taking out insurance make sure the company is regulated by checking the Financial Services Register. Check the policy wording and make sure it offers you the cover you require.

Travel insurance

We strongly recommend you arrange travel insurance before you leave your home country to cover you throughout your studies in the UK. Make sure your insurance covers repatriation of you and any dependants to your home country, should it become necessary, this will not be covered by the UK’s National Health Service in any circumstances and is expensive.

Lots of students choose to visit other countries during University vacations or as part of their studies, make sure your travel insurance covers you for worldwide travel and for the things you want to do whilst you are there.

Personal belongings

It is important that you take out insurance against the loss or theft of personal belongings including any cash funds.

If you will be living in University accommodation standard contents cover has been arranged for you with Endsleigh Insurance that will cover your belongings whilst they are in your room. We recommend you check the policy details including what’s covered, you will be able to increase the cover if you would like to.

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Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.