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Money for Life work in partnership with the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation set up by government. Money AdviceService provides free, unbiased money guidance across the UK to help people make the most of their money.  If you have a question or need help, you can chat to them here.

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No ID? Here is how to open a bank account

By by Andy Webb from Be Clever with Your Cash.

Opening a bank account should be pretty easy. There are enough options out there that there will be something for everyone, from basic accounts with just the essential features through to all-singing, all dancing premium accounts. All you need is some ID. Everyone has ID, right?

Well as many of you will know, it’s not that easy. We’ve teamed up with Be Clever with your Cash to bring you the low-down on how to open that all important account.

You need to prove who you are, and prove where you live.

Proving who you are

For this first one, the banks will all ask for photo ID. The most common photo identification types are passports and driving licenses. These both cost money. A passport will set you back £75.50 and a provisional driving license £34 (don’t worry, you don’t then need to learn to drive). Still if you think you’re going to use either of these documents and can afford it, it’s worth getting one. You’ll need your birth certificate when you apply.

If you can’t get one of these photo IDs all the different banks list online the other forms of ID that are acceptable. Pretty much all the banks should take a benefits letter from the last 12 months, while Nationwide will accept valid student ID or a letter from your social worker, doctor or probation officer.

Proving where you live

Next you need to prove your address. You can use a driving licence or a benefits letter, as long as you didn’t use it prove your ID. If you did you’ll need something else like a gas or Council Tax bill, or a tenancy agreement from the council or letting agent.

But if you’re living with your parents or don’t have a fixed address you might not have any of these. Ask if the bank will take a letter from your employer or the homeless shelter. If you’re still struggling, talk to the bank and see if there’s anything else they’ll take.

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Have you ever had trouble opening a bank account?

You might need even more proof…

 If you are opening a student account you’ll need a letter or ID showing where you are studying or going to be studying.

There’s another hoop you’ve got to jump through if you weren’t born in the UK. You’ll need to prove you’ve been given the right to live here. That’s even trickier if you’re still working through the immigration process, but gather what you have and bring it to the branch.

What if the bank says no?

The problem is not all the staff at banks are across some of the options. We know people are sometimes told flat out you can’t open account without a passport or driving licence. That’s wrong.

Each bank lists on its website what ID it accepts. Read through the list before you go to the bank. If you have two IDs from that list then you can open an account – even if it’s just a basic bank account. It’s worth saving the webpage on your phone or printing it out. If they say no, show them that list. You can even ask them to call up head office to check.

And remember different banks have different requirements. So if one is proving difficult, don’t give up, just try another.

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Money for Life work in partnership with the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation set up by government. Money AdviceService provides free, unbiased money guidance across the UK to help people make the most of their money.  If you have a question or need help, you can chat to them here.

Launch Chat

Chat to the Money Advice Service
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm.