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Banking and financial services

When opening an account with any bank in the UK, you will need to provide evidence of your identity and confirmation of your address within the UK. The following documents are proof of identity: passport, national identity card, residence permit, national driving licence, tenancy agreement, employment contract, and some might require proof of your previous address. Bring as many of these with you when you are opening the account. A valid proof of address to open an account would be: a utility bill, TV or phone bill, tenancy agreement, medical card/NHS card, catalogue (less than three months old) or something similar. If there are any questions, call the bank and ask for their requirements. If you decide to have direct deposit for your salary, the University of Cambridge uses Barclays Bank for this service. 

Although, most banks expect you to have a UK address before you can open a bank account, there are specialist accounts, such as the HSBC Passport Account, designed for foreign nationals. Bring a form of identification and proof of your previous non-UK address with you to the bank. 

You should be able to obtain cash through your ATM/cash card but ask your bank before you come if the card can be used in the UK and which banks they are associated with. Transferring money to and from the UK can be costly and take time. Plan in advance what your needs might be and do this early. You can bring UK currency in the form of traveller’s cheques, with you. Keep a record of the cheque numbers separate from your luggage. 

Visit the bank to ask about their services. This will help you decide which account will best fit your needs. A standard current account is the most common type of bank account in the UK. A current account is for day-to-day use. Two or more people can set up a current account together and have equal access to deposits, withdrawals, debit cards, wiring from abroad, electronic usage and many other services, depending on the bank. Banks also offer current accounts with "extras" that have added benefits, which come with a monthly fee. A simple cash or basic account only provides you with a deposit and withdrawal service. It may be possible to upgrade this account to a current account after a period of time. For help with banking, go to, click on "debt and money", then on "banking".   


Graphic art and photos: Geneviève Guétemme, @Doug88888, Xraijs

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