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Opening a Bank Account

Many international and EU students choose to open a UK bank account upon arrival in the UK. Most of the major high street banks have branches on Kensington High Street, which is within walking distance of the Kensington campus.

As an international/EU student it is not possible to open a student account, however you will be able to open a basic account at most high street banks.

Required Documents

In order to open an account, as a general rule you will need to provide the following documents:

  • Passport/ID card
  • Evidence of your overseas address
  • Evidence that you are an RCA student; you can request a Bank Letter on the Letter Request Form on the RCA intranet once you have registered on your programme – letters cannot be produced before you register
  • Proof of your UK address (utility bill/tenancy agreement).

In some cases, you may find it difficult to provide the required documentation to open an account. 

If you encounter any problems please visit the Student Support Office.

What type of account can I open?

This will depend on the length of your course in the UK, as well as how you intend to use the account, as some accounts have restrictions or fees. It is important to understand any potential charges and the various features of the accounts. 

Those studying in the UK for less than 1 year will find fewer accounts available to them. One option is Metro Bank's 'Cash Account' however this comes with restrictions in how you can use it. Santander offer students studying for less than a year their 'International Student Current Account' which is a popular option.

Students wanting to set up payment plans for their university fees, smartphone contract, or online subscriptions such as Netflix and Spotify should check the features of their chosen bank account. For example, Metro's 'Cash Account' and Santander's other 'Basic Account' don't allow pre-authorised payments such as these.

Those who receive international transfers should consider either of the accounts offered by Santander, who do not charge a fee whereas many other banks do.

App-based banking is becoming a popular option, App-based banks such as Monzo offer current accounts which you can open up through their app. 

Those wanting to open an account quickly should plan ahead. Due to a large number of new students arriving in the London area during September, there are often long waiting times for appointments at certain banks. Some students reported wait times of up to 6 weeks for in-person appointments during September and October.

Tips and Advice

Request your ‘Letter of Introduction for UK Banking Facilities’ early. You can request this letter once you have started the Online Registration process and included a term-time address with your personal details. You can request the bank letter from our ‘Letter Request Form’ page our the intranet website. You can only get a bank letter once you have enrolled.

Open a UK bank account before you even leave home! With Barclays and the Bank of China, you can start opening an account online, once you have completed the online application Barclays can progress with your application at an in-person appointment. 

Open a UK bank account through App-based Banking! With app-based banks you can open a bank account through the app available on Android and iOS; no visits to a bank are necessary. You can receive instant spending notifications as well as use the in-app budgeting tool, Your bank card will be posted to your UK address between three to seven working days.

Please note: the above is for information purposes only and the RCA does not recommend any banks. Other banks may also offer this service. Contact individual banks for information.

Processing times for opening a bank account can be up to three weeks. You should ensure that you have other ways of accessing your money for this period such as a travel money card.

Local Banks 

Most of the local banks closest to the RCA are based in High Street Kensington.

Below is a list of addresses of banks which have branches in the local area. Santander bank is also located at the Imperial College South Kensington campus, which is five minutes walk from the RCA Kensington campus. Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and NatWest all have branches which are within a 15 minute walk of  RCA Kensington campus.


Student Support Office

+44 (0)20 7590 4140

[email protected]