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Can you open a bank account without proof of address?

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Image of Leanne Macardle

Leanne Macardle

Freelance Contributor

When opening an account with a bank or building society, you will normally be asked to provide evidence of your identity and confirmation of your address. However, if you are homeless, or have been living abroad and are planning to move or return to the UK, this can pose a problem.

Even for those who have lived in the UK all their lives, having proof of residence can still be a problem if, for example, you’ve been renting a property with a partner and all the bills are in their name, if you've rented a room in a shared house and don't pay any bills, or if you are not on the electoral roll.

Having no credit history and no proof of address can hinder efforts to set up a new current account, which is often necessary to enable your employer to pay your wages and access social security benefits.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to go without. Although most banks and building societies expect you to have a UK address before you can open a bank account, there are some specialist products that have been designed for non-residents and those who don’t have a fixed address, which could be an alternative if you do not meet the standard criteria.

Banks that don't always ask for proof of address

High street banks

Some high street banks are able to cater to non-residents, expats and those without proof of address, including:

HSBC

Working in collaboration with Shelter and other UK charities, HSBC offers special bank accounts for the homeless in selected branches across the UK. The No Fixed Address programme is specifically for those experiencing housing difficulties who are receiving support from one of the partner charities, and does not require proof of address.

Lloyds Bank

You normally only need to provide proof of ID to open a Lloyds bank account – ideally a UK passport or driving licence, which can often be shown using online processes – and will only need proof of address if you’re unable to provide one of these. If you don’t have ID or proof of address, they may still be able to help; contact your local branch for assistance.

TSB

Much like Lloyds Bank, you’ll typically only need to provide proof of address if you don’t have valid proof of ID, though you’ll need to provide other details such as your income, employer details and previous addresses.

Bear in mind that all banks are required to have alternative processes in place for those who can’t provide proof of address in order to avoid financial exclusion. If you’re struggling in this respect, always contact your local branch to see what alternative options are available.

Digital/challenger banks

Digital-only banks operate wholly in the digital space – meaning they don’t have any physical branch locations, with all services typically provided online, via telephone banking or (most often) a dedicated smartphone app. Yet this can sometimes make it more difficult to be accepted without proof of address, so always make sure to speak to the bank if you don’t have this evidence available.

You can find out more about digital-only banks and smartphone banking on our dedicated digital-only banks and mobile banking apps page, but here are a few brands you may come across:

Featured providers

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Disclaimer

The list of bank account providers on this page is a selection of services available and gives you an idea of the kind of options available. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting any of the providers listed. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts.co.uk will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts.co.uk recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

Alternatives

Basic bank accounts

If you can't meet the normal address verification requirements to open a current account, you may still be able to open a basic bank account. Basic bank accounts are offered by selected high street banks, making them ideal for those who would prefer to bank with a mainstream name rather than a digital challenger.

Bear in mind that there are alternative methods of identification which can usually be used to open this kind of account depending on your circumstances. Here’s a quick overview of some documents that can be used:

  • A benefits entitlement letter issued by DWP, HMRC or your local authority, or an identity confirmation letter issued by the DWP or local authority.
  • Letter from care home manager/warden of the sheltered accommodation or refuge.
  • A letter from the warden of a homeless shelter, or from an employer if the customer is in work, should be sufficient evidence.
  • A letter from the individual’s probation officer, or a hostel manager, would normally be sufficient.
  • Letter from the governor of the prison, or, if the applicant has been released, a letter from a police or probation officer or hostel manager should be suitable.
  • For international students, a passport or EEA national identity card and letter of acceptance or introduction from the university is often acceptable.
  • For foreign nationals or expats working temporarily in the UK – whose lack of banking or credit history excludes them from being offered anything more than a basic bank account – a national passport or national identity card should be sufficient.

What else can I do?

If you don’t have proof of address because your name is not on any bills, speak to the person you're living with and ask if it would be possible for you to take on one of the bills in your name. This could take a month for the change to come through on a paper-based bill, which you can then use as proof of address.

Alternatively, you could apply for a prepaid card. These cards are great for students and those who have little or no credit history – they can be used much like a bank account and you can even have your wages paid into them, with little paperwork required and no unexpected bank charges. Plus, once the card is sent to your home, you can use the letter that comes with it as proof of address.

What documents will you need to open a bank account?

Typically, you’ll need to provide proof of identity and proof of address in order to open a UK bank account. You may only need one of each, though depending on the bank and the documents you’re using, be aware that you may need additional options.  

Proof of identity

Documents that you can use to prove your identity include:

  • Passport (must be current)
  • Valid UK driving licence (or a paper driving licence as long as the address is current, though in this case you may need another official document as additional proof, such as a council tax bill or utility statement)
  • Provisional driving licence
  • UK biometric residence permit

 

These are the main forms of ID you’re likely to use to open a bank account, though some banks will accept other documents as proof of identity as well. These can include:

  • A benefit entitlement letter that’s less than 12 months old
  • A UK Armed Forces ID card
  • An HMRC tax notification from the past 12 months
  • A Home Office immigration status document or registration card
  • Birth certificate

Can I open a bank account without ID?

No – you’ll normally need some form of identification in order to open a bank account, even if you don’t have a fixed address. This doesn’t necessarily have to be photo ID but you’ll need to be able to prove who you are. However, there can be some exceptions, so speak to your preferred bank if you’re finding this difficult.

Proof of UK address

If you have a fixed address, here are a few documents you can use as proof:

  • A utility bill (e.g. gas, water, electric, TV or landline phone bill) that’s less than three months old.
  • A council tax bill issued within the current financial year.
  • A UK bank or credit card statement that's less than three months old (internet statements aren't acceptable).
  • A tenancy agreement or council rent book (must be current).
  • A UK mortgage statement that's less than three months old (internet statements aren't acceptable).
  • A catalogue or mail order statement that's less than three months old.
  • A hire purchase statement of account.
  • A pension book.
  • A medical or NHS card.
  • A car or home insurance certificate that has been issued within the past 12 months.
  • Contract of employment, payslip or HMRC PAYE coding notice, or a letter from your employer (as long as it’s less than three months old).
  • If you’re a student, a letter from your university that confirms your address.

Some banks may accept different methods of verification that aren’t listed here – make sure to speak to your potential provider if you’re unsure.

It’s important to note that passports, National Insurance cards or birth certificates are not classed as proof of address as these do not state your address, just your identity. Remember too that all documents must be the original, not photocopies. This applies to proof of ID as well.

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Moneyfactscompare.co.uk will never contact you by phone to sell you any financial product. Any calls like this are not from Moneyfacts. Emails sent by Moneyfactscompare.co.uk will always be from news@moneyfacts-news.co.uk. Be ScamSmart.

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