How to open a bank account without ID in the UK

You are going to need some form of ID to open a bank account in the UK, but the range of documents that banks can accept is wider than you might think.

Opening a bank account in the UK can be extremely easy and quick… or a bit of a nightmare, depending on your personal circumstances and what documents you have.

If you are unable to provide a UK passport or driving licence, you might think that getting a bank account will be close to impossible, but it’s not quite like that.

Can I open a bank account in the UK without any ID?

As you can probably imagine, the short answer to this is no.

Banks need to verify your identity before letting you open a bank account. That’s anti-fraud policy 101 and it protects you too; you wouldn’t want a random person to be able to open a bank account in your name.

This also applies to digital-only banks – even if you try to open an account online or through an app, you’ll usually be asked to submit a picture of your ID as well as a video of yourself.

However, if you don’t have a valid UK passport or driving licence, there are some other forms of ID that banks may consider, which we outline below.

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What counts as ID and what can I use to open a bank account?

Most documents that count as ID will display both your personal details and a picture of yourself. If you have a UK passport or a UK driving licence, you are sorted; any bank will take them.

If you don’t, here is a list of alternative IDs that banks normally accept:

  • Any other nationality’s passport. It might have to be accompanied by a visa if you need it to reside in the UK.
  • EU/EEA ID card or driving licence. An easy solution if you’ve just moved from a country in the European Union to the UK, for example.
  • HMRC tax notification. This is one of those letters you get about your taxes, for example at the end of the tax year, when HMRC will tell you if you have paid too much or too little.
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). A document with your picture, fingerprints and immigration status that you normally get if, for example, you apply for a visa to stay in the UK for longer than six months.
  • Home Office documents. Specifically, an Immigration Status Document or an Application Registration Card (ARC). The ARC is a card released by the Home Office to asylum seekers.
  • Blue disabled drivers pass. This is also referred to as “Blue Badge” and is released by the council. It’s for on-street parking and allows people with disability to park close to their destination.
  • Young Scot card. This is a card that young people aged 11-26 living in Scotland can get for free and entitles them to a series of benefits, such as school launches and travel discounts.
  • UK Armed Forces ID Card. Such as the one released to veterans.
  • Benefits entitlement letter. You usually receive one in response to your benefits application. You can get one from the office that pays your benefits (for example, from the council if you receive housing benefits).
  • Northern Ireland Voters Card. This is one of the documents that voters who live in Northern Ireland can use to prove their ID when going to the polls.

Many of these documents actually require you to provide an ID when you apply for them. But they can still be helpful, for example if you find yourself having lost your passport and urgently need to open a bank account before you get a new one.

Also, this is a general list and different banks may have slightly different policies.

Finally, it’s worth noting that if you have one of these “alternative IDs”, especially the less straightforward ones (e.g. a benefits letter), it will probably be easier to get an account at a traditional high street bank, rather than with a digital-only bank.

How about credit reference checks?

Sometimes, you may be able to apply for and open a current account online from a traditional bank without ever having to provide proof of identity or popping into a branch.

However, this usually means that your identity has been verified digitally through a credit reference agency, by conducting a so-called “soft check” that will not leave traces on your credit record.

For banks to be able to verify your identity in this way, your credit report needs to contain enough information about you to allow it. So if it’s the first time you apply for a current account or any other type of banking product, don’t expect it to work.

Also, be aware that most traditional banks will perform a full credit check (not just a soft one) when you apply for a current account, particularly if it comes with an overdraft facility. You can check your credit score here for free.

There are current accounts on the market that do not conduct a credit check. These include current accounts from Cashplus and ThinkMoney.

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