Having to prove your identity will be one of the first things you will need to do when applying for opening a bank account, usually this will be in the form of providing a valid proof of address in the UK.
Other documents needed to prove your ID may need to be provided as well which include your passport, driving licence or documents validating rental/ownership of a property. Proving your address is an important security measure that banks have to perform for each individual that is opening an account.
However for some, proving their address may not be as simple as they may have just arrived within the UK and therefore do not yet have any bills or a registered bank account with your name.
Choosing which bank you open an account with may then be of importance as the information required may vary between banks or alternative documents could be given.
Why does your Bank need a proof of address?
As a financial institution Banks are required to comply with strict security measures to ensure that accounts cannot be opened for illegal activities such as money laundering.
Therefore they have to make sure that the individual who is opening an account is doing so under a valid identity to make sure you are who you say you are and do so by checking the validity of your address.
The two most important documents for a Bank to ask for before customers open an account are the photo ID of the individual and their registered address or proof of address.
The way in which your bank will ask you to supply the documents referring to proof of address may differ between banks but in general, they will ask for 1-2 documents which prove your residential address.
These documents usually have to be from original sources such as a current UK photo driving licence or HMRC Tax Notification/bill.
What documents could be required as proof of address?
The accepted documents differ between each bank and likewise also have differing processes in which these documents can be given. Also in addition to this the validity times for each document are also an important factor to take account when supplying these documents. Documents must be up to date, the validity time depends on the documents.
For example a bank or credit card statement or a utility cannot be any more than 3-4 months old. A council tax bill or water bill has to be valid from no more than a year (12 months).
You can check the specific document validity requirements with your bank before giving any documentation.
Most UK banks accept these documents as proof of address:
- Valid UK driving license
- Recent utility bill (gas, electricity, water or landline phone)
- Council tax bill
- Recent credit card or bank statement
- Recent Building Society or Credit Union statement
- Tenancy agreement
To find out if there are any alternative documents that you could instead supply, contact your bank.
Important notes regarding acceptable documents:
- Where you need to provide two separate documents (one for ID proof and one for Address proof), the same one can’t be used twice, even if it appears on both lists. The documents must be from different companies.
- All documents must be the most recent ones. Expired documents won't be accepted.
- Documents used for proof of address should show your full name and current address.
- Internet Banking statements can be accepted
- Banks reserve the right to obtain additional identification and address verification documents if required.
What if you cannot supply the bank with a proof of address?
New to the UK and want to open a bank account
If you have just arrived in the United Kingdom and are thinking of opening a bank account it can be quite difficult as you may not have some of the required documents such as a registered address or utility bills charged to you as you have not been in the country for long enough.
Some high street banks allow for alternative documents such as the following:
- A letter from your university, college or language school if you’ve come to the UK to study. Your UCAS details or a letter from the Student Loan Company might also be acceptable in this case
- A letter from your employer confirming your address
- A letter referring you from an existing customer of that bank, who can verify your address
You may need to check exactly what your preferred bank accepts.
For EU residents who are interested in opening an account in the UK you might want to open an account with Barclays. Barclays offers a basic bank account by providing proof of your address in Europe.
Can I open an account before arriving in the UK?
Yes, if your home bank has a correspondent banking relationship with a British bank there is a possibility that they can set up a UK bank account for you. You might also be interested in an International account which many UK banks offer.
However international bank accounts may need a large initial deposit in addition to having to make minimum payments each month. Some banks may even require a monthly fee as well.
Are there banks that don’t need proof of address?
Unfortunately at the moment, all major UK banks are required to have your proof of address before allowing you to open an account with them. If you would like to see the details for each of the main UK banks about the required documents needed use the following links:
If you have read the details of your preferred bank and are still incapable to satisfy their document requirements you may want to discuss with the bank themselves, which is encouraged by banks.
A list of other options in which a bank may accept depending on the situation can be found on the Financial Conduct Authority website. The FCA are bank regulators in the UK.
That’s everything you should know regarding proof of address for opening a bank account within the UK. Knowing what documents you may need and how to get around or alternatives you can provide is very useful especially if you have just moved to the UK to live, work or study
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