• The Midgie
  • 1 October 2008

If you’re staying in Scotland for any length of time then you will want to open a bank account. This will allow you to easily manage your money whilst in the UK and will be essential for getting paid in any legitimate jobs you take. If you are a foreign national, recently moved to the UK, you will probably only be offered a very basic account at first without an overdraft facility. The card that comes with this account will likely be a visa electron or solo card. These are not as widely accepted for payments as other types of card such as visa or mastercard but you will be able to withdraw ccash and pay for things in some locations. When you have successfully managed this simple account for a set period of time your bank may allow you to upgrade your account.

What do I need?

To open a basic bank account you will need a current, full, signed passport, a current EEA driving licence or an EEA Member State identity card. If you are not from the EEA, you must bring your passport and a letter confirming your employment status. It may also be a good idea to bring a recent statement from the bank you use in your home country, or
a written reference from them.

Banks will need to see proof of your address such as a utility or council tax bill addressed to you, or your tenancy agreement. If you are staying with friends, life can be a bit more difficult. Other documents may be acceptable, but you’ll need to check with the bank. You shouldn't give up all hope of opening a more sophisticated account - one that will provide you with a visa card or mastercard and a modest overdraft facility. You may be successful but it will depend on your job, where you live, your credit history and your powers of persuasion.

Money transfer companies like Western Union and MoneyGram specialise in very fast international transfers. The fee they charge depends on where the money is coming from and going to, plus the amount you are trying to send. For example, to receive £100 from Sweden via Moneygram the sender would need to pay a fee of about £12; to receive £100 from Australia via Wester nUnion (online service) they would need to pay about £16.

Another fast and simple way of transferring money, if you have a UK bank account, is by international bank transfer. The sender will need your IBAN and BIC (BIC sometimes known as SWIFT) numbers, to be found on the top right of your bank statement, or by phoning your bank. The transaction fee is set by the bank that the money is being transferred from, so it is difficult to know exactly how much international bank transfers will cost. The money will usually arrive in your account within a couple of working days.


For currency exchange your best bet is the Post Office as they don’t charge commission. Popular currencies can be dealt with over the counter. You’ll need to order less popular
currencies in advance. If you manage this before 1pm, they should be ready for collection the next day.

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