How to open a bank account if you're homeless

Show proof of temporary address

Banks often ask for things like a recent:

  • council tax bill

  • gas, water or electricity bill

  • bank, credit card or mortgage statement

Ask to use an alternative proof of address if you do not have documents like these.

Alternative proof of address

Sometimes banks will accept a:

  • contract of employment or payslip

  • letter from the manager of a hostel, refuge or supported housing

  • letter from the council that says you live on a Gypsy or Traveller site

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

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.

Using a temporary address

You do not need a fixed address to open a bank account.

It's a good idea to use a temporary address to set up a bank account and start claiming benefits if you can – even if you expect to move soon.

Sometimes you need to receive physical letters but you can usually set up online statements.

When you have a bank account, remember to tell the bank if you change temporary address. This will allow you to receive letters from the bank and help keep your account open. It will also be less likely that someone else can read your letters.

If you're in emergency housing or a hostel

You could use your occupancy agreement as proof of address.

It helps to also get a letter from the manager if you're staying in a hostel.

If you're staying at a refuge

You should not use the address of a domestic abuse refuge without being told you can do this. You could be asked to leave if you share the address.

Sometimes you can use a PO Box address.

Ask staff at the refuge to provide a letter confirming where you live.

Find out more about help if you're homeless and have experienced domestic abuse.

Using a friend or family member's address

Always ask your friend or relative before using their address.

You cannot affect someone's credit score if you use their address for your bank account.

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.

Get proof of address by registering to vote

There is a special form 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.

Registering to vote is free and could help you pass ID and address checks.

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.

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.

Information for professionals

Use our resources on Shelter Legal to support someone who is homeless to open a basic bank account.

Last updated: 18 April 2023

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