How to open a UK account if you’re a student from China

China is by far the biggest source of international students coming to study in the UK – in 2016, more than 75,000 Chinese students were given visas, not including those on short-term study courses, and that number climbed to over 88,000 in 2017.

It’s a number that just goes up and up, and will soon pass 100,000 each year, and yet the UK banks don’t always make it easy to set up an open online bank account if you’re a student from China or anywhere else overseas.

We want your experience of living and studying in the UK to be as positive and enjoyable as possible – and that means not spending hours waiting in line in a bank branch to see an international advisor.

Although Arro is not a bank, we are regulated to provide online electronic money services. We were created based on first-hand experience of being new to the UK, and of how difficult the British banks made that process.

We guarantee to accept all eligible applications. That means in just three minutes you can have a UK current account with its own sort code and account number – everything you need to receive financial support from back home.

Am I eligible to open an account as a student from China?

The short answer is yes, probably. If you can fill in our simple online application form, there’s a very good chance we will accept you.

We just ask for some basic details:

  • Name
  • Date of birth (you must be aged 18 or over)
  • UK address (where you will live for most of your time – your ‘base’ in the UK)
  • Contact details (to provide your account number and MasterCard® details)

There’s no credit check, just a very basic Fair Fit test, and assuming you pass you should receive your account number and virtual MasterCard® details within minutes, and a physical card through the post to your UK address.

What do I need to study?

According to UKCISA, who compile data on overseas students in the UK, business studies, engineering, technology, law and architecture are among the most popular subjects for international students from all countries.

Maths and computer sciences come next, followed by social studies, languages, art and design – proof that overseas students don’t only study the sciences, but also arts subjects.

In fact Arro don’t require you to study any particular course – the Arro Personal Account is not limited only to the traditional business-type subjects, or even only to university students.

No matter how you choose to study in the UK, if you are here on a valid student visa or short-term visa and can provide us with a UK address and the other basic details mentioned above, we guarantee to accept your application if we can.

Where should I live?

The first recorded visit to the UK by a Chinese person dates back to 1685 and there are permanent Chinese communities in every major city – often found in a ‘Chinatown’ district complete with authentic Chinese restaurants, grocery stores and so on.

London has its Chinatown and several London boroughs have their own Chinese community centres. But it’s believed that Liverpool was the first UK city to have a significant permanent Chinese population.

You’ll also find Chinese communities in Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield, as well as Newcastle in north-east England, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and in Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland (more than one in five students in Scotland come from overseas, well over the UK national average).

Another way to look at it is, wherever you choose to study, you are likely to find a substantial local population of permanent British Chinese residents and of international students from China, along with other countries from all over the world.

Long-term visa options for Chinese students in the UK

Depending on what you study, you may be able to stay in the UK and continue on to a postgraduate or PhD course using a student visa.

If this is not right for you, there are some other options to consider – but you will usually need to have your new visa in place within four months of the end of your current study programme.

A Tier 4 Doctorate Extension is a one-year extension to the end of your study visa, sponsored by your education provider, and this aims to give you time to get a job or start a business in your chosen sector.

A Tier 2 General Visa must be sponsored by an employer, but as long as you get a suitable job this should allow you to stay in the UK once you are no longer a student.