Though opening a bank account seems like one of the “essential” things you’re supposed to do as an adult in the UK, a shocking number of people don’t have one. Yahoo News reports that about 1.1 million UK adults are “unbanked,” accounting for a little over 2% of the adult population.
You may be among them.
The reason could be that every account you’ve tried to open requires you to have some form of ID, which you can’t provide. That’s where this article comes in – we cover the banks that allow you to open accounts even if you can’t go through the traditional methods of proving who you are.
What ID Do Banks Normally Need?
NatWest’s webpage for opening a bank account provides a decent summary of the two things you’ll usually need to open a bank account in the UK.
Proof of Identification
Most banks want to see that you are who you say you are, which is why they’ll ask for official proof of ID. Your Tesco Clubcard won’t do the trick here. In most cases, you need to present a passport or a driver’s licence – either full or provisional – to prove who you are. In NatWest’s case, you can also use a European Union (EU) ID card to open an account.
Proof of Address
Once the bank has confirmed who you are, they’ll conduct further checks using a document that proves where you live. Your driver’s license may fit the bill here, assuming it contains your current address. Otherwise, you’ll have to submit a utility bill, tax documents, or, ironically, a bank statement.
Reasons For Not Having Valid ID For A Bank Account
For the majority of UK citizens, providing these documents won’t be an issue. The bank asks, you deliver, and your account is opened. But there are a few situations when you might not be able to provide the ID the bank requests.
You Simply Don’t Have ID
Not having the two typical forms of ID that a bank usually accepts isn’t as rare as you might believe.
Census data from 2021 – the most recent accessible numbers – showed that 8 million people didn’t have a passport but were living in the UK. There might be many reasons for this, especially given that you don’t legally need to have a passport. If somebody has never travelled abroad, it stands to reason that they won’t have bothered spending money on the documents that allow them to do so.
Similarly, the government states that about 74% of the UK population had a full driver’s license between 2015 and 2019. The figures don’t say how many have provisional licenses, though Insurance Revolution put the number at around 9.1 million in October 2021. Either way, that’s millions of people who don’t have a driver’s license.
Your ID Has Expired
Check your passport or driver’s license and you’ll see that they have expiry dates. As soon as you’re past that date, the ID isn’t valid anymore. Even if a bank can clearly see it’s you from the picture, they can’t accept an ID that isn’t valid.
You Can’t Afford to Buy ID
Given that the UK has no mandatory form of ID, you have to spend money to get your hands on one of the documents.
A driver’s license costs either £34 or £43, with the cheaper price applying to online applications. A full UK passport sets you back either £82.50 or £93. If you don’t have the money to spend on these documents – especially if you have no other use for them outside of ID – then you may not have them.
You Have No Fixed Abode
According to a Citizens Advice article from 2020, around seven million people had at least a period between 2010 and 2020 when they had no fixed address. The site also points out that about 12% of UK adults have been unable to apply for various services – including opening a bank account – because they don’t have an address, meaning they can’t supply proof of address.
Banks You Can Open An Account Without ID In The UK
So, you can see why somebody might not have an ID with which to open a bank account. Now, onto the big question – which banks will happily look past the lack of ID and allow you to get the account you need?
In truth, most banks will ask for some form of documentation, even if that document isn’t the form of ID usually required. For the most part, the following banks just give you more options.
1 – Metro
Though Metro typically asks for a photo ID, it can work with you if you’re unable to provide the typical passport or UK driver’s license. The other options it provides still help it to prove your identity, even if it can’t do it in the way that other banks do:
- Non-Photo Driver’s License – Photocard driving licenses weren’t introduced until 1998, meaning many may wish to open a bank account but can’t provide a photo license. Metro allows you to use the older version in these cases.
- Notification Letters – If you have any letters from a relevant local authority or benefits agency, including those from the Veterans Agency and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Metro may accept those as long as they’re dated in the last 12 months.
- HMRC Documents – PAYE coding notices, self-assessment forms, and National Insurance contribution forms that are valid for the current tax year are accepted. Sadly, P60 and P45s aren’t.
2 – Starling Bank
Starling Bank doesn’t require you to provide proof of address if you’re opening an account online, which takes one of the forms of ID out of the equation.
However, it does ask you to submit a government-issued photo ID, along with a picture of yourself to match the ID. Normally, this would be a driver’s license or passport. So, this one is a mixed bag, if could be useful to somebody who has no fixed abode.
3 – HSBC
In most cases, HSBC is like other banks – it needs proof of ID and your address before you can open an account.
However, those with no fixed address may be able to open an account through the bank’s No Fixed Address programme. Designed specifically to help those experiencing housing difficulties, the programme sees you working alongside a registered charity to open an account. There’s no list of charities for you to check, with HSBC recommending that you speak to groups in your area to see if they participate.
Sadly, not all HSBC branches operate this programme. But once you have a caseworker from a relevant charity working with you, they’ll do the legwork to find the nearest branch that could open an account. Once you have the account, all relevant documentation is sent to any address used to open the account, which could be the charity’s or the address of a friend or relative.
4 – Revolut
First, the bad news – you’ll need a government-issued photo ID card to open an account with Revolut. That means a driving license or passport.
However, the bank doesn’t require you to provide proof of address along with that ID, allowing those with no fixed abode to open accounts. The process is handled entirely online, with the resulting account being accessible as soon as you’ve successfully completed the application process. It takes nine working days for your card to arrive – to whatever address you’ve entered – though you can link the account to Google and Apple Pay immediately.
5 – Suits Me
As with Revolut, Suits Me does require a relevant photo ID before you can open an account.
But also like Revolut, you don’t need to provide proof of your address. You can create an account online in minutes, with whatever address you enter being the one that’ll receive any relevant correspondence. Again, this makes Suits Me a solid choice for those with no fixed abode. Plus, the account comes with the benefit of 15% cashback if you shop with a Suits Me partner.
A Possible Alternative Option – The Basic Bank Account
As you’ll see from this list, it’s practically impossible to open a bank account in the UK without a government-issued ID. The best you’ll find are banks that don’t require proof of address, or those that will accept other forms of ID beyond a passport or driver’s license.
But there may be another option.
The Basic Bank Account is a simple alternative that you can set up with governmental assistance if you don’t have obvious proof of ID or address. After confirming that your bank offers this type of account, you should find that it’ll accept a letter from one of the following as confirmation of your identity:
- Social landlord
- General practitioner
- Armed services officer
- The warden of a hostel, refuge, or sheltered accommodation in which you’re staying
- A care home manager
If this type of account interests you, speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau – you can find your nearest brand via the website – and they’ll help you find a local bank that can create one of these basic accounts.
Though practically every bank asks for a government-issued proof of ID – they’re legally bound to do so – there are several that don’t need proof of address. If you have a driver’s license or passport, the five listed here should be your first ports of call.
If you lack those forms of ID, speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau about a Basic Bank Account. As long as you have somebody relevant (see the list above) to vouch for your identity, you may be able to create a bank account without ID.
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