Relocation Tips from International Students

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How to set up a bank account from outside the country

Katherine: If you do one thing, DO NOT use Barclays unless you are living OUTSIDE of Oxford/college accommodations. Dylan and I both tried Barclays, and we both got rejected because they would not accept college-owned accommodations as your place of residence. I ended up with Lloyds, and I really like them. I ended up setting up a bank account in person with them, and the staff were very friendly. The process was straight forward, and I could just go to their in-person location when I had any issues online. 

Leah: I do not think it is possible to set up a bank account outside of the country as an international student. I had to go into the branch at Oxford with my BRP and other paperwork to prove I had leave to remain. You need a bank account before doing anything else - you cannot get a SIM card or a phone without one. It should be one of the first things people do once they touch down and pick up their BRP at the post office. When you apply for a BRP you have to select where you want to pick it up

Barclays, which has the best rates, does not accept international students. You have to have established residency for more than a year which will not have been possible for most. I would suggest HSBC, they have an account specifically for International students. In order to set up this account students will need a letter from their college with their accommodation information (if they are staying in college accommodation), otherwise they'll need some other form of proof of residency. It is best to contact HSBC prior to arrival to ensure the form is in the correct format, they are very particular as to the order of the information. 

[HSBC says it is possible to open an account before you arrive and they have a page here for international students ]



Where to look for accommodation?

Katherine:  I highly recommend getting an accommodation with your college if you can, as it will be the easiest for settling in since they will have most things taken care of for you. If college accommodations are not possible, you can also apply for university graduate accommodations:

This is first come first serve, but you will get priority on the list as a first-year international student. 

You will need a national guarantor (so either a person or business from the UK) if you decide to live outside of college or uni accommodations. 

Leah: When you are able to apply for housing, I would say the Oxford Facebook groups for housing are the best option if you are not going to use college accommodation. There are often rooms available throughout the year posted on the groups.   You also cannot apply for housing before receiving your passport back with the Visa sticker.




Visa issues and advice

Katherine:  I would say this is one of the first things you should get on top of, as it can be a long and confusing process. I believe Oxford sends information to help guide you through this process. Along with your visa, you will have to pay for 4 years of NHS coverage upfront, which will cost around £3,000. 

Leah:Visa issues are country dependent. The service that does the US visas is a bit frustrating with no help line (phone, email - they have a twitter but they don't answer) available. I have done it twice now and there have been issues both times, but they have worked themselves out (by luck I feel). 

Dylan: Advice regarding VISA - the post office gets overwhelmed with the number of international BRP cards. Students should anticipate that the card will not be available on the exact week of their arrival. 


Tips on settling in once you get here (what to expect)


  • Get a fan if you are used to having air conditioning. Most people here ventilate by opening a window, which means bugs and spiders get in, but all the spiders in the UK are supposedly not venomous.
  • Westgate (especially John Lewis) was where I got a lot of stuff for my apartment. 
  • If you are not used to sizing in the UK, I recommend getting the clothes under your sub fusc from your home country. (Sub fusc is the clothes you wear for matriculation here, which is a really big tradition at the start of your first term)
  • Sub fusc clothes are: 
  • tops: white button down shirt and (optional) black suit jacket
  • bottoms: black slacks or black skirt with black tights 
  • shoes must be all black (this means things like docs can't be worn unless you cover the yellow lace)


Dylan Phone companies like Vodaphone will require a UK bank account prior to purchasing a phone plan.  So they wlll first need the BRP card, then set up bank account, then phone. 

Tesco has a Clubcard that helps with savings on groceries, account can be created on there website. 

Cycle king in Cowley sells a student package for bikes, lights, and locks - good customer service bikes come fully serviced and can be bought used to save on money, 

The Airline via the Oxford Bus Company is an easy and affordable way to get from Heathrow to Oxford. You can download the Oxford Bus Company app to buy mobile tickets. 

If students are looking for housing outside if college - the facebook group OxGradHousing is good. 

Students of Oxford Swap (Shop) and Oxford Buy and Sell are two groups for buying items needed for settling in,