Opening a bank account in the UK without proof of address
You can open an account with a digital bank in minutes, and some don't need proof of address.
If you need a UK bank account as soon as possible, opening an account with a challenger/digital bank usually takes just a few minutes. You’ll still usually need proof of identity (such as a passport or driving licence) to open a bank account, but some challenger banks don’t require proof of address.
Bank and e-money accounts that do not usually require proof of address
Can you open a bank account without proof of address?
Yes, it is possible to open a bank account without proof of address. Despite the high street banks often requiring it, a number of online-only banks and e-money providers accept other forms of identity if you don’t have any proof of address documents.
Banks and e-money accounts that don’t (normally) ask for a proof of address
- Revolut. A UK e-money account set up on your phone that allows you to hold multiple currencies.
- Monese. A digital-only account in the UK that you can set up on your phone and comes with a euro account included.
- Monzo. The UK’s most popular digital bank, where you can set up an account from your phone.
The banks in this list are all challenger/digital banks. You can read more about challenger banks like the ones above in our in-depth article, but basically a challenger bank is a recently born bank, which usually only operates digitally. They try to make banking easier and cheaper for customers, thus “challenging” the market dominance of traditional UK high-street banks.
- Challengers are digital and mobile only.
- They don’t have any physical branches and you do everything from an app.
- Challenger banks are usually free.
- You’ll get a UK bank account complete with account number and sort code, which allows you to have your salary paid into it.
One of the most popular challenger banks in the UK is Monzo, which has a full UK banking licence. Your money with them will be protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), just like with any traditional bank.
There’s also Wise’s multi-currency account. Similarly to Revolut, it’s a prepaid debit card, rather than a bank. With this account, you can hold 40 currencies, send money overseas at a highly-competitive rate and spend money in foreign countries without facing additional fees.
Which high street banks could help?
What counts as proof of address?
Some banks will need at least one proof of address.
If you’re asked for proof of address, here’s what will count:
- Utility bills. If you have one of these (telephone, water or electricity, but usually not internet or mobile phone), then you’re sorted as any bank will take them. If you live in a house share, ask your housemate to get one of these bills put in your name, as it may be the fastest way to get yourself a reliable proof of address.
- Council tax bill. The same applies to this year’s council tax bill.
- A valid UK driving licence. Most banks will accept this if it has the correct address on it and you haven’t used it as proof of ID.
- EU driving licence. Many banks will take an EU driving licence as proof of address, but if you’ve just arrived in the UK, you won’t have your new British address on your existing European licence, so it might not be that useful. Cheer up though, you can still use it to drive around.
- HMRC tax notification letter. Not a straightforward solution, but again, most banks will take it. His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the government department that collects taxes. If you already have a payslip and a National Insurance Number (NIN), you might be able to register for a personal tax account and print a certificate of the taxes you’ve paid in the UK for the current year. However, if you’re looking at opening a bank account to get your first salary paid in, you’ve lived in the UK for less than 12 months and you don’t have a British passport, you’ll usually get a depressing message from HMRC saying it’s unable to verify your identity and get you an HMRC tax account.
- Bank, building society or credit card statement. Statements from another bank or building society that are less than 3 months old fit the bill perfectly.
- Tenancy agreement. Some banks accept it, others will only take it if it’s issued by a housing association or by the local council.
- Mortgage statement. If you have a mortgage statement from the last 3 months, this can be used as proof of address.
- Catalogue or mail order statement. Again this needs to be less than 3 months old.
- University acceptance letter/enrolment certificate. If you’re a student, you can print one directly from your university’s online portal. Again, some banks will accept it, some won’t.
- Solicitor’s letter. You might be able to use this if it’s less than 3 months old and confirms a property purchase.
- NHS medical card or letter of registration from your GP. Some banks will accept these as proof of address.
Confirmation from an electoral register search. This should confirm that you live at the claimed address.
- A pension book. Some banks might agree to accept this as proof of address.
- Car or home insurance certificate. It must have been issued within the last 12 months.
Criteria can vary from bank to bank, and some branches (and even some employees!) can be stricter than others. All of the above documentation will have to be recent and display both your name and the exact same address you’re using for your application. Traditional banks usually publish a list of the documents they’ll take as proof of identity and address on their websites. Checking it before starting your application will save you from wasting time.
You can also ask your bank if it will accept any of the following documents if you can’t provide any of the documents mentioned above:
- Letter from the warden of a homeless shelter or refuge
- Letter from a care home manager
- Letter from a prison governor or probation officer
- Benefits entitlement letter
- Immigration status document
- Passport or EEA national identity card and letter of acceptance or introduction from your university if you’re an international student.
Letter from the local authority if you’re a traveller.
How to open a bank account without proof of address
1. Look at the list of banks we’ve outlined above that don’t normally require a proof of address (these are all digital/challenger banks).
2. Research the different account features on offer with these banking providers.
3. Once you’ve decided which provider you want to go with, download its app from the App Store or the Google Store.
4. Sign up via the app – this usually only take a few minutes.
5. Your account is open! You can use the digital features right away, while you wait for your bank card to arrive in the post.
Challenger banks are also good for moving country
Aside from being quick and easy to sign up to, challenger banks have a series of features that appeal to people who travel or work across different countries:
- Low fees for using the card abroad. With most challenger banks, transactions abroad come for free, and so does withdrawing cash from ATMs, at least up to a certain limit. If you travel quite a lot or are planning to spend your holidays back home, you could save a nice amount of money in fees.
- Multi-currency accounts. Both Revolut and Monese already come with free EU accounts alongside their UK ones, and Starling has rolled out the same feature. With Revolut, you’re covered even if the euro isn’t the currency you need, as you can exchange money in 29 different currencies without paying a fee (up to a set limit) at the interbank exchange rate.
- Budgeting features. Most challengers offer a smart digital banking app that includes detailed data reports on how you spend your money, plus ways to put some savings aside for a specific goal, which can be helpful if you’ve just moved to the UK and are struggling to figure out what kind of lifestyle you can afford with your current salary. There are even dedicated budgeting apps available now.
If you’re struggling to open a bank account, there are some other options to consider:
Basic bank accounts
Many high street banks offer basic bank accounts that can be easier to get accepted for than standard bank accounts. Some of these might be more lenient about the types of documents that can be used for proof of address – for example, you might be able to use a letter from an employer or a homeless shelter, or a benefits entitlement letter. Foreign nationals working temporarily in the UK might only need to provide a national passport or identity card.
Basic bank accounts have limited features so you won’t have an overdraft facility, for example. But you can still set up direct debits and standing orders to pay bills and have your wages paid into the account.
Prepaid cards can be much easier to get accepted for as they don’t require a credit check. Some don’t require proof of address either. You can have your wages paid into your card and use your card to make purchases. Just be aware that some charge fees for certain transactions or even have a monthly fee. Once the card has been sent to your home, you can use the letter as proof of address.
Add your name to a household bill
If your name isn’t on any household bills and you’re in a house share, ask the person you’re living with if you could have one of the bills put in your name. It might take a month or so for the change to come through on a paper bill, but once it does you can use it as proof of address.
Finding the right documentation can seem like a bit of nightmare if you’ve just arrived in the UK or have just moved to a brand new address where you have no utility bill or ID linked to it. But it is possible to open a bank account in the UK without a proof of address, if you’re willing to sign up to an account with one of the new digital-only banking providers.
Frequently asked questions
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