How to open a bank account if you're homeless

Get ID documents or alternatives

You usually need to show at least one form of ID to open a bank account.

Banks ask for things like a:

  • passport

  • UK photocard driving licence

These must be valid, not expired.

Some banks will not ask for proof of address and use other ways to check your identity.

Ask the bank which documents they can accept for a basic bank account.

Alternative forms of ID

Sometimes banks will accept a:

  • citizen's card

  • birth certificate

  • UK provisional or paper driving licence

They might also accept a letter from:

  • your employer

  • the DWP, HMRC or local council

  • a manager of a hostel, refuge or supported housing project

  • another professional who knows you such as your GP, teacher or social worker

Banks usually accept a wider range of documents if you apply in person.

If you're in prison or recently released

Sometimes banks will accept a letter from a prison governor or probation officer.

Unlock has more information on confirming your identity if you are or have been in prison.

Find out more about help if you’re homeless after leaving prison.

If you're from abroad

Sometimes banks will accept a:

  • national passport or identity card

  • biometric residence permit

  • letter confirming your place at a university or college

  • Home Office document for asylum seekers

Save the Student website has information on bank accounts for international students.

The Refugee Council has a Banking guide for people recently granted refugee status. It is available in English, Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Pashto and Tigrinya.

How to get ID documents

You usually have to pay for new ID documents so explore alternatives first.

You could get help to pay for new ID documents from a homeless advice centre or day centre. Find your nearest centre on Homeless Link.

You could also search on Turn2Us for a charitable grant which you do not have to pay back.

Electoral register

There is a special form to register to vote if you do not have a fixed or permanent address.

You can register to vote if you are a British, Irish or EU citizen living in the UK. Some Commonwealth citizens can also register.

You might be able to use this for ID and proof of address.

You do not have to pay to do this.

Find the form and your electoral registration team on The Electoral Commission website.

Your local electoral registration team process the form and could help you fill it in.


British citizens can apply for a passport online.

This could take up to 10 weeks and will cost at least £82.50 for an adult passport.

It will take longer and cost more if you apply by post or at the Post Office.

Driving licence

You can apply for a driving licence online.

You need to give a residential address when you apply. But you could ask a friend or family member to use their address.

If your friend or relative gets benefits, these should only be affected if you normally live with them as your main home. Sofa surfing or just getting post at a friend or relative's address should not affect their benefits.

A provisional licence usually arrives within 5 days and will cost at least £34.

It will take longer and cost more if you apply by post or at the Post Office.

Your first full driving licence is free and also usually arrives within 5 days.

It costs at least £14 to renew or change your photo.

It may cost more if you apply by post or at the Post Office.

It's free to update your name, address and gender.

Help if your ID does not match your gender

Banks sometimes ask you to show ID documents to access your account.

If your ID documents do not match your gender, you could ask someone from a homeless charity or LGTBQ+ organisation to go to the bank with you.

Find out if you could get help from:

Find a local charity to help

Some banks have schemes for people with no fixed address.

Banks offering this type of account ask a local homeless charity or other organisation to confirm your identity.

A local Shelter service could help if you already get advice or support from them.

Our national helpline and webchat cannot help with this as they do not meet you in person.

Last updated: 28 August 2023

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