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11: What to do when you arrive

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account may be the easiest way for you to manage your finances in the UK. Once you're registered, our Registry can provide you with a letter confirming your student status, which your bank will need as part of your account application.

It can take a few weeks to open an account, so please ensure you have a way to meet your financial obligations at the beginning of your studies. This is especially important if you need to quarantine when you arrive, as you may need to visit a bank in person to open an account. A prepaid debit card or credit card may be the best way for you to access money during this time. Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted cards in the UK.

If you'll be in the UK for less than six months, it will probably not be possible for you to open a UK bank account, so please speak with your bank at home about the best way to access funds.

Registering with the police

Students from some countries need to register with the police. If this applies to you, you must book an appointment online within seven days of arriving in the UK. When the day of your appointment arrives, you must attend in person with the requested materials. All of the steps you need to follow are outlined in our student visa guide.

Students on visas will need to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when they arrive. We recommend that when you apply for your visa, you choose St Mary’s University as the place you would like to pick up your BRP. You will receive further instructions in your visa letter.

Your phone

You can purchase a pay-as-you-go UK SIM card when you arrive, or speak with your current mobile provider to see if they can offer you a competitive contract while you're in the UK.

Please note that if you have to quarantine, you may not be able to arrange a phone contract for the first 14 days you’re in the country. Make sure that you will have WiFi access during this time to help you keep in touch.

Health care

Most medical care in the UK is provided through the National Health Service (NHS). If you're in the UK for longer than six months and have paid the NHS surcharge, or you have a European Health Insurance Card, you will have free access to the NHS. Please note eligibility for European Health Insurance Card holders may change after Brexit.

You should register with a primary care doctor (called a general practitioner, or GP) when you arrive. You can find a GP in your local area here. You can also find other NHS medical services, such as dentists, on that site.

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