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Proof of ID and address to open a bank account

What documents someone needs to provide when applying for a bank account, and options if they don't have standard proof of identification and address.

This content applies to England

What a person needs to open a bank account

When opening a bank or building society account, the applicant is usually asked to provide:

  • proof of ID

  • proof of address

Moneyhelper has information about the requirements of each bank. Banks might take extra verification steps if an applicant submits proof digitally.[1] Many banks accept a wider range of documents in branch.

Banks might require the applicant to provide two or more documents.

Passports, national identity cards and travel documents must be current. Letters should be recently dated. All documents must be originals.

What counts as proof of identity

Proof of identity could be a valid government issued photo ID including the applicant's full name and photograph, and either their address or date of birth.[2]

Photo ID includes a:

  • passport

  • photocard driving licence (full or provisional)

  • national identity card

Banks might accept a passport or full photocard driving licence to open an account without requiring separate proof of address.[3] A person with a provisional driving licence might have to provide separate proof of address.

ID without a photograph

Someone with ID without a photograph might have to provide a second document including their full name and either their address or date of birth.[4]

ID without a photograph includes:

  • an old-style full driving licence

  • a current council tax statement

  • recent evidence of entitlement to benefits

Alternative proof of ID

Where someone is unable to provide standard proof of ID, the bank might accept an alternative, including:[5]

  • a letter from an employer

  • a letter from a care home manager

  • a letter from a prison governor or probation officer

  • confirmation from the applicant's college or university[6]

  • an immigration status document with biometric residence permit

  • a national passport or national identity card (EEA and Swiss nationals)

  • a letter from a warden of a homeless shelter, sheltered accommodation, or refuge

Alternative ID for people from abroad

People from abroad might not have the standard proof of ID that banks often require.


Refugees might not have their national passports. A refugee might be able to provide an immigration status document with biometric residence permit, or a travel document.

People seeking asylum

People seeking asylum can request their passport if the Home Office is holding it and they need to prove their identity.

Some banks might accept a person's Application Registration Card (ARC).

Working in the UK

A person who has come to work temporarily in the UK can usually provide their national passport.

EEA and Swiss nationals might have a national identity card.

International students

An international student could provide both a:[7]

  • passport or EEA national identity card

  • letter of acceptance or introduction from an institution on the UK border agency list.

A letter should be on appropriately headed paper. JMLSG guidance includes a pro forma letter of introduction agreed with UKCOSA (The Council for International Education).[8]

UCAS maintains a database of students who have confirmed places at an education establishment.

Inquiries into immigration status

Banks check that a person has permission to remain in the UK. If the applicant has been refused leave to remain, they cannot open a new account. There is guidance on

Banks are not required to establish whether a person is legally entitled to work in the UK. If they find out that the applicant is not legally entitled to work the deposit of earnings from employment could constitute an arrangement under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Read more about immigration checks in Basic bank account applications.

Alternative ID for people in prison or on probation

People in prison and on probation often do not have the standard proof banks require. They can face difficulties when trying to prove their identity.

Unlock has more information for prisoners and those on probation.

Proof while in prison

Unlock has developed a form prisoners can use to prove their identity when applying for a basic bank account.

Prisoners can get the form from the prison library and staff can complete it.[9] There is a template form and guidance on

Banks have agreed that the form will be accepted as the only form of identification.[10] If the bank refuses this identification, the applicant could point to the JMLSG guidance.

Proof after release

A person can only use the Unlock form while they are at the prison address. For people on probation a letter from their probation officer or hostel manager is usually sufficient.[11]

People without proof of identity

Some people might not have any of the standard or alternative forms of identification. They might be able to:

  • get a letter from an appropriate person

  • register for the electoral roll

  • apply for personal identification

Letter from an appropriate person

A bank can accept a letter or statement from an appropriate person that indicates the applicant is who they say they are.

An appropriate person is someone in a position of responsibility who knows and is known by the applicant and can reasonably confirm the applicant's identity.

An appropriate person might include:[12]

  • a hostel manager

  • members of a local authority

  • staff of a higher or further education establishment

An appropriate person can also be anyone who can countersign a passport.

Electoral roll registration

Some banks accept an electoral register entry as proof of identification. Registering for the electoral roll can take a few weeks.

People with no fixed abode can register for the electoral roll on

Applying for personal identification

A person could apply for a passport or driver's licence.

There is usually a fee to apply for ID, so it is worth exploring all other options first.

Someone might be able to get help to pay for new ID documents from a homeless advice centre. Professionals can apply to the Vicar's Relief Fund on behalf of the person they are supporting.

Turn2Us provides information on charitable grants.

UK passport

A person can apply for a UK passport at It can take up to ten weeks to receive a passport and it costs at least £75.50 for an adult passport.

Driving licence

A person can apply for a driving licence at

A provisional licence usually arrives within five days and costs at least £34.

A full driving licence usually arrives within five days and is free. It costs at least £14 to renew or change a photo.

Gender identity

Someone whose gender identity is different from previous forms of ID might need to apply for a gender recognition certificate or ask their doctor for a letter confirming their gender identity before they can get new ID documents.

What counts as proof of address

Many banks require an applicant to provide proof of address in addition to a form of personal identification. Banks often insist that proof of address includes the applicant's name and the exact same address being used for the bank account application.

Proof of address could be a:

  • utility bill

  • council tax bill

  • mortgage statement

  • HMRC tax notification letter

  • UK bank or credit card statement

Alternative proof of address

Some banks accept alternative proof of address, such as:

  • a letter from a prison governor

  • an employment contract or payslip

  • a letter from a local authority verifying a traveller's address

  • a letter from the warden of a homeless shelter, sheltered accommodation, or refuge

  • a tenancy agreement or a university accommodation acceptance letter

Landlords might be willing to provide a tenancy agreement before someone moves into new accommodation.

Alternative proof of address for people with no fixed address

Someone with no fixed address might not be able to provide standard proof of address. This includes people who are sleeping rough and people in insecure or temporary accommodation.

People who do not have somewhere permanent to live can make a homelessness application to their local authority.

Some local authorities have a partnership with ProxyAddress which provides applicants with an address they can use to access support and financial services.

Homeless hostel or shelter

A bank might accept an occupancy agreement for a hostel room as proof of address.

The agreement should display the person's name and an exact address. Residents in homeless hostels might be moved between rooms at short notice, so their agreement might not match their current room. This could cause a problem if bank staff notice a difference when checking someone's address. The applicant could provide a letter from the hostel manager to explain.

Domestic abuse refuge

The location of many domestic abuse refuges is confidential. A person in a refuge might need to use a PO Box address. They should speak with the workers at the refuge for help. A bank might accept a letter from a support worker or independent domestic violence advocate (IDVA).

Traveller site

A bank can check with a local authority if it needs to verify a traveller's address. The authority should register traveller sites and a letter from them verifying the person's address as a traveller might be accepted.

Temporary address

An applicant might be able to use a friend or family member's address, even for a short time. Using a temporary address does not affect the credit score of a friend or family member. It could affect their benefit entitlement if the DWP thinks the person is living with them.

People without proof of address

People who cannot prove their address can usually open a basic bank account. Banks often accept a wider range of forms of proof to open these accounts.

Providing standard evidence of address can be difficult for some people. Firms should have regard to this when deciding whether to insist on address verification.[13]

The guidance does not require banks to verify a customer's address in all cases. The standard verification is verification of name and a choice between address or date of birth.

Find out more about basic bank account applications.

No fixed address bank accounts

Some banks offer accounts specifically for people with no fixed address. A charity or other organisation confirms the person's identity and the applicant can use the organisation's postal address.

Find out more about no fixed address bank accounts.

Digital-only banks

Some digital-only or 'challenger' banks do not require a proof of address. The opening process is online and people manage their accounts using an app. An applicant needs a smartphone and proof of identity.

These banks do not have any physical branches.

Bank's refusal to accept identification

Banks must verify an applicant's identity to comply with fraud legislation.[14]

Banks set their own requirements for required identification. They should not unreasonably deny a financial product to customers who cannot reasonably be expected to provide detailed identity information.[15]

The applicant can ask the bank to explain why it has not accepted their documentation, and could make a complaint.

Guidance for banks

Banks, building societies, and credit unions operate within guidelines issued by the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group on acceptable proof.

Banks should give proper consideration to an applicant's non-standard or incomplete documentation. The money laundering regulations are not explicit about what is and is not acceptable evidence.[16]

Last updated: 19 December 2022


  • [1]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.79.

  • [2]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.75

  • [3]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.77.

  • [4]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.75.

  • [5]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part II, Annex 1-I; JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.115.

  • [6]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.118.

  • [7]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.118.

  • [8]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part II, Annex 1-II.

  • [9]

    PSI 44/2011, FCA Handbook.

  • [10]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part II, page 13; agreed through British Bankers Association and the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG).

  • [11]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part II, page 13.

  • [12]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part II, 4.20 ft.12.

  • [13]

    JMLSHG guidance, July 2022, Part I, 5.3.113.

  • [14]

    Reg 28 Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.

  • [15]

    SYSC 6.3.7, FCA Handbook.

  • [16]

    JMLSG guidance, July 2022, Part II, 5.3.125.