all you need for relocation to scotland: edinburgh

Student banking 

The rules for opening a student bank account are similar to the ones that apply to people who are coming to work in Scotland.

Because of a lack of UK credit history, you’ll normally only be able to open a basic bank account although some banks will allow you to open a current account (I explain below what a basic and current acount are).

If you are coming to study in Scotland then the British Bankers' Association (BAA)’s leaflet International Students is definitely worth a read. The leaflet will tell you everything you need to know about opening and using a bank account in the UK.

Opening a bank account

As a rule, you must provide 2 pieces of identification to open a UK basic bank account (although some banks may request more).

One proof of identity with your picture A letter from your university/college/school 

Do bring the original documents and the customer service adviser will make photocopies

• Valid passport with student VISA or
• Valid National Identity card from a European Union member state*

The letter should confirm your UK study details OR be a “Letter of Introduction for UK Banking Facilities” which your university/college/school will complete to show your UK study details.

* As from 1 January 2007, 27 countries are part of the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Basic (cash accounts) & current bank accounts 

Basic accounts are free of charge and are usually offered to international students who’ve just arrived in Scotland. Currents accounts occur a monthly charge and are only offered by some banks. They offer more flexibility and a better package. 

A basic account A current account 

is flexible enough to allow you to:

• receive money directly to your account (wages)
• pay bills by Direct Debit
• have a cash card to withdraw money from cash machines (ATMs)
• check your balance at bank counters

However, a basic account won’t usually allow you to:

• go overdrawn (although some banks may allow a maximum £10 overdraft)
• have a cheque book
• have a debit card to make purchase online, over the phone or in shops (although some banks may). This means that if you want to go shopping you will have first to withdraw some cash.

will allow you:

• BACS (accepting money directly to your account e.g. wages)
• Direct Debits (automatic bill payments direct from your account)
• Standing Orders (regular set payments from your account to someone of your choice)
• Cheques book
• Monthly interest on your money (the rate is usually low)
• Telephone & online banking
• Debit cards to use online, over the phone, shops, withdraw cash
• Insurances (e.g. travel)
• Loans
• Overdraft


As all students will know, for every rule there is at least one exception. The exception to the "basic account only" rule comes from HSBC bank.

gold-star.pnggold-star.pnggold-star.png HSBC

The “world’s local bank” certainly deserves its name as it makes it very easy for international students who are new to the UK and Scotland to open a current bank account (not a basic one).

The bank offers a “HSBC Passport Bank Account” for which you can apply online if you already live in the UK, or have the intention to move to the UK within the next 3 months. You must be aged 16 or over to apply.

If successful with the application, you will have a bank account ready when you arrive. Follow this link to the HSBC website to apply online.

If your intention is to apply for the Passport Account after you have arrived in Scotland, just visit one of the bank’s branches in Edinburgh city centre

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