Proof of address is a document that serves as a verification of your current place of residence, typically required by banks as a security measure.
A valid proof of address document must be in your name, match your ID, have your current address, be issued by a recognised authority, and be dated within the last three months.
Commonly accepted proof of address documents include utility bills, credit card statements, lease agreements, insurance policies, and mobile phone bills.
If you want a trouble-free experience when opening a bank account, getting your documents in order is crucial.
Fundamentally, banks will need proof of identity, like a government-issued identification card, followed by proof of address to confirm where you live.
There are different types of valid documents you can use as proof of address; these vary depending on which country you reside in and which bank you are applying for an account with.
Not procuring the right document for your application can delay getting your account up and running.
Continue reading to find out what proof of address is, the accepted documents, the ones that won't work, and where to get them.
What Is a Proof of Address?
A proof of address is a document that verifies where you live. It is required by banks as a security measure to ensure the accuracy of your provided address information.
They essentially want to be sure that they are able to communicate with you via regular post and be able to find you if necessary.
By verifying your residence, banks and institutions can also prevent fraud and adhere to anti-money laundering laws.
A proof of address can be a basic document such as a residence permit or a lease agreement. Alternatively, it can be a document from a reputable service provider, like utility bills, confirming your current address's active use.
💡 Tip: A proof of address is also known as proof of residence.
What Is Accepted as Proof of Address?
Each bank has a different policy. However, most banks accept the following documents as proof of address:
- Water, electricity, gas, telephone, or Internet bill
- Credit card bill or statement
- Bank statement
- Bank reference letter
- Mortgage statement or contract
- Letter issued by a public authority (e.g., a courthouse)
- Company payslip
- Car or home insurance policy
- Car registration
- Authorised change of address form
- Letter of employment
- Official letter from an educational institution
- Municipality bill or government tax letter
- Driver's licence
- Residence permit
- Lease agreement for your residence
Additionally, each bank will have a specific list of documents and rules to validate proof of address.
We also recommend looking out for ambiguous rules. For example, when a bank says they accept utility bills as proof of address, they may have certain stipulations over what type of utility bill is valid.
While we've listed commonly accepted documents for proof of address, it's important to note that each institution has its own set of requirements. From bank to bank and country to country, the specifics can vary. Always verify with the particular institution to ensure you have the correct type of document.
Check with your local branch before applying for your bank account to prepare the right document.
💡Tip: Ensure your proof of address documents are recent, generally within the last three months.
What Makes a Valid Proof of Address
Certain criteria are essential to make sure that your proof of address is valid and will be accepted by your bank:
- It should be issued in your name and match your government-issued identification.
- The proof of address must contain your current residential address.
- The document needs to be sent by a recognised authority and show their logo, name, and information. Documents from a bank, government agency, or judicial authority are often accepted.
- Your proof of address needs to be clearly dated.
- Recency is key: Banks will generally request that the document provided be dated within the last three months. This ensures that the information is up-to-date and reflects your current living situation. However, this rule can differ depending on the bank or the type of document you are submitting. Banks could request even more recent documentation.
While the criteria are designed to verify proof of address, it has limitations. For instance, it is possible for someone to produce a document showing an address where they are not actually residing. Therefore, banks may request two different pieces of proof of address to minimise the risk of fraud.
Conversely, some individuals residing at a valid address may not have their name on any of the documents, especially if they are a child or a dependent partner.
In the latter case, you may want to get in touch with your bank to discuss your specific situation and inquire about alternative solutions or documentation they may accept for proof of address.
What Is Not an Acceptable Document for Proof of Address?
It is always advisable to check with your local bank to get detailed information on which documents are valid and the rules they follow to authorise proof of address.
However, there are some commonly followed rules that you should keep in mind:
- Your ID can only be used to verify your identity. Even if it contains your address, it will not be accepted as proof of address.
- An outdated document may not meet the criteria.
- Bring originals, not copies. Banks need to check the authenticity of documents before approving them.
Generally, any document that is not listed on the bank's official list of required documents will be rejected.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to check with your local branch in advance so that you are able to prepare the right documentation and get your bank account up and running as quickly as possible!
If you are still having doubts, visit the bank with several documents so the banking official can choose for you.
This will prevent you from having to delay your application and return to your bank branch a second time to finish off the process.
How to Find Valid Proof of Address?
Depending on your current situation, there are different courses of action you can take to find appropriate proof of address.
Case 1: Bills Arriving at Your Home Are in Your Name
In this case, finding a valid proof of address is simple!
It is very probable that you already have some form of proof of address somewhere in your home. To obtain proof of address in this situation, browse through the pile of mail sitting in your mailbox, and you will likely find:
- A recent bank or credit card statement
- Various utility bills
- Your payslips
Any one of these documents will do, but you must make sure to bring the original copy to the bank when applying for your bank account.
Case 2: Bills Arriving at Your Home Are Not in Your Name, or You Are Unemployed
Some individuals may not have their names included on any of the utility bills or other possible documents that could be used as proof of address. This can occur with minors, dependent partners, subtenants, shelter residents, and live-in caregivers, for instance.
If you find yourself in this situation, don't be discouraged; there are alternative documents you can source that will work just as well.
- Finding a lease agreement or recent insurance policy - We recommend digging out your lease agreement or finding a recent insurance policy taken out in your name.
- Get your name on mobile bills - Another method is to get your name on a mobile phone bill.
Visit your local provider to take out a basic phone plan and register the contract at the correct address.
You will receive a bill or service contract from the service provider within a month of registering the plan, with your full name and address on it.
- Get your name on utility bills - If you live with a partner, ask them to add your name to the utility bills.
- Use a document in a relative's name - Some banks will accept a document in a relative's name as long as you can prove your family relation. However, it's worth checking with your local bank if they will authorise this as a valid proof of address.
- When in doubt, reach out to your bank - One of the best steps is to contact your bank and inquire directly.
In many cases, they may recommend obtaining a proof of residency letter or an affidavit of residence, which are official documents confirming an individual's place of residence. It is typically signed by a landlord, employer, or family member, supplemented with supporting documentation like an ID card, and is notarised.
⚠️ Note: Providing fraudulent proof of address documents is illegal.
Case 3: You Recently Moved
To obtain proof of address after a recent move, update your address with utility providers, your bank, or the postal service, and await your next bills
Alternatively, you may be able to use your new lease agreement as valid proof.
The key is to ensure your address is updated before gathering documents for the bank application.
Case 4: You’ve Gone Paperless, You Need to Print Online!
If you haven't been using physical documents, you may be able to get hold of a proof of address online through a service or company you already have a history with.
Before doing so, we advise you to check with your bank if this method is accepted.
Once you have the green light from your bank, contact the right authority to get hold of a copy and then simply print it off to present to your bank.
Alternatively, you can also make a request for a paper copy online and then wait for it to arrive at your doorstep before going ahead with your application.
Getting your hands on a proof of address is a simple process as long as you actually live where you say you do. However, since each bank and country has its own set of documents and regulations for verifying proof of address, It is advisable to always check with your local bank branch before applying.
If you live in Hong Kong, the UK, or Singapore, be sure to check out our related articles below to see the requirements for each country:
- How to Get a Proof of Address in Hong Kong
- How to Get a Proof of Address in Singapore
- How to Get a Proof of Address in the UK
Additionally, If you are looking to open a business bank account, then the list of documents required will be different. We go through this list in detail in our guide to opening a business bank account in Hong Kong.
What counts as proof of address?
What is not a proof of address?
Can a proof of address be online?
Can a bank statement be proof of address?