Money and banking

Opening a bank account before you move to the UK

Major UK banks, such as HSBC, NatWest and Santander, provide global services which may enable you to set up a UK bank account before arriving in the UK, for instance, linked to your home country account, or an international currency account. Requirements vary from country to country, so please check with your bank or online for details.

If you are opening a UK-based account, you will be required to provide proof of your identity and address, either by attending an appointment in the local branch shortly after your arrival in the UK, or by sending certified copies of your documents by post.

For further information on opening a bank account after your arrival in the UK, click here.

Transferring money to the UK

You should ensure that you have sufficient funds at your disposal when you arrive in the UK. Opening a bank account in the UK is not straightforward if you move from overseas and it may take up to two weeks before you receive a debit card which can be used to withdraw money from local cash machines. In addition, you may need to pay a deposit or rent in advance before you can move into rented accommodation.

Your bank in your home country may be able to advise you on how to transfer funds to the UK if you have not yet opened a UK bank account. There are also many specialist companies that provide money transfer services, such as Western Union.

Traveller’s cheques are another option, as they can be purchased in your home country and then exchanged for local currency when abroad, often free of charge. Traveller’s cheques are available in Pounds Sterling, US Dollars or Euros, and can be used in banks, Post Offices, bureaux de change, and some shops, hotels and restaurants.

Most shops in the UK accept credit cards from other countries. You should check the terms and conditions outlined in your credit card agreement, as you may incur fees for using your card abroad.

New banknotes and coins

Bank notes in the UK are changing from paper to polymer. The new £5 notes have been in circulation since 2016, and will be followed by the £10 note in September 2017 and the £20 note by 2020. A new twelve-sided £1 coin was introduced in March 2017, replacing the previous round version. Look out for information in the media about the dates when the old versions will stop being 'legal tender' (i.e. the date when they will no longer be accepted as payment). For a limited period after each is discontinued, you can exchange them at your bank, building society or the Post Office.

Disclaimer: Please note that the University does not endorse any of the external websites listed above, or elsewhere in this guidance.

Did you know? 'Battels' in Oxford have nothing to do with physical conflict! Your 'battels' are your account in your college, and the balance is payable at the end of each term.