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.
Bank and e-money accounts known for an easy application process
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.
Which high street banks could help?
Many high street banks offer a range of accounts that are easier to apply for than other types of account. These include basic bank accounts that can help people with a poor credit score apply for an account and often do not require proof of address.
HSBC is working in partnership with Shelter and other UK and local charities to help those without a fixed home address open a bank account. The No Fixed Address programme is available in selected HSBC branches and to access it you must be experiencing housing or homelessness difficulties and receiving support from one of HSBC’s partner charities.
Alternatively, if you have a UK or EU address, you can apply for HSBC’s basic bank account. This account is designed for those struggling to get accepted for a bank account elsewhere, either due to financial difficulties or a poor credit record.
In most cases, if you’re a UK, EEA or Swiss National, all you’ll need to open a bank account with Metro Bank is a valid passport, EU national ID card, or UK driving licence. If you’re not a UK, EEA or Swiss National, you will need to show a valid passport containing your current visa or Biometric Residence Permit, plus proof of address.
If you can’t provide some of the documents requested, you can still apply for Metro Bank’s Cash Account and the bank will accept the following:
- International students – valid passport, plus student visa and a letter of acceptance or introduction from a UK education institution
- Asylum seekers – IND Application Registration Card issued by the Home Office, plus proof of address and confirmation of asylum support allowance or other income
- People in care homes or sheltered accommodation – in this situation you should speak to a branch staff member to talk through your options.
If you have a UK passport or driving licence, this is usually all you need to open a bank account with Lloyds, so you don’t need to worry about proof of address.
However, if you don’t have a UK passport or driving licence, you will need to bring two documents into your local branch, one as proof of identity and one as proof of address.
Proof of ID can include:
- Current EU/EEA passport, photo driving licence or identity card
- HMRC tax notification
Proof of address can include:
- Bank, building society or UK credit union statement
- Utility bill dated from the last six months
If you do not have any of the above, Lloyds says it may still be able to help you open an account if you contact your local branch for assistance. If you do not qualify for any of Lloyds’ main bank accounts, you may be put forward for its basic account (you cannot apply for it directly).
Similar to Lloyds, if you are opening a TSB bank account online you will usually only need to provide proof of ID. You will also need details of your income, addresses for the past three years and the name and address of your employer. You will need to be aged 18 or over, a UK resident and either an EU national or have permission to stay in the UK for at least 12 months.
Like most other high street banks, if you do not qualify for any of TSB’s main bank accounts, you may qualify for its basic Cash Account.
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.
Who would consider a bank account while struggling to provide ID?
There are a number of scenarios in which someone might be struggling to provide ID and there are different options they can take. We’ve outlined these below:
The bottom line
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to open a bank account in the UK without being able to show some recognised form of identification. This is primarily in order to prevent fraud.
When most people think about ID, they tend to picture the need to show either a valid UK passport or a driving licence. But if you don’t have either of these, you should still be able to open a current or savings account.
There are some other forms of ID that banks may be able to use when considering an application to open an account. These can include a passport from another country, EU or EEA ID or driving licence, HMRC tax notifications, and Home Office documents. Digital banking providers that are well known to offer an easy application process include Monese, Starling Bank and Revolut and from time to may offer welcome cash bonuses.
Frequently asked questions
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