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To open a bank account in the UK you’ll usually need to provide a set of documents to show your identity, and also confirm your current residential address. This is how banks choose to comply with rules which are designed to stop corruption, money laundering, and funding of illegal activities.
However, the traditional banks’ approach to proof of address can cause problems for some customers, who might not have any of the accepted documents. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s good to know that accounts are available which comply with FCA regulations while offering more choice for customers who need to provide proof of address and identity.
With a multicurrency account from Wise, you can open your account online, and choose how to verify your identity, which can be more convenient than the options on offer from traditional banks. More on that, later.
Here’s all you need to know about the proof of address documents which are accepted by Barclays for different account types.
If you’ve been asked to provide a proof of address to open a bank account it means you have to give your bank documentary proof of where you currently live. Your bank will give you a range of documents you could use, such as a recent utility bill or a driving license. Usually you’ll need to provide an original document for checking.
In the UK, banks ask for proof of ID and address as part of the process to open a bank account. It’s the same in many other countries around the world, and is intended to help the banks make sure that the account being opened is not connected to any illegal activities.
In the UK the rules are based on anti-money laundering legislation, and guidelines from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You might see these rules and processes described as know your customer or KYC. Although different banks might interpret the rules a little differently, the documents and processes used for checking customer ID and address are pretty standard between all the UK high street banks.
Barclays bank has a list of acceptable forms of proof of address, which can vary between different account types. For example, if you live in the EU, but are not yet a UK resident, you might be able to open a basic bank account, providing proof of your address in Europe. However, for most accounts you must be a UK resident, and be able to provide proof of your residential address from one of the list of acceptable documents.
If you are living outside of the UK and EU right now, but need to open a sterling denominated account, you might not be able to get what you need through Barclays. Maybe you’re planning on moving to Britain soon, but don’t yet have a residential address arranged - or you’re in the UK already, but have not yet got the documents required to open a Barclays account.
In this case, you could consider opening a multi-currency account with Wise. This great new account lets you hold your money in any of over 40 different currencies, and switch between them when you need to. Currency conversion is always carried out using the real exchange rate with no markup - and just a small fee. You can get a debit card to use in ATMs and to pay for life in the UK, and make direct bank transfers in a wide range of currencies at prices which often beat the banks.
It's easy to open a Wise multicurrency account online, and you can choose how you want Wise to verify your details.
To get your Wise account up and running you always have to send a copy of your photo ID document, such as a passport. You can then choose to either send a proof of address document such as a driving license or recent utility bill, or if you don’t have a proof of address document to hand you can send a selfie with your photo ID document instead.
To open a regular bank account with Barclays you’ll need to provide proof of ID and one document from the following list¹, which shows you have a current residential address in the UK:
- A full driving license from the UK, EU or EEA
- A provisional UK driving license
- A bank, credit card or UK/EU/EEA mortgage statement - must be no more than 3 months old and the bank/mortgage statement must show a UK address
- UK utility bill - must be no more than 3 months old
- UK credit union statement - must be no more than 3 months old
- Council tax bill or exemption letter from within the last 12 months
- Local council or housing association tenancy agreement from within the last 12 months
- Benefit entitlement letter confirming that benefit will be paid, from within the last 12 months
- HMRC tax notification from within the last 12 months
If you’re from within the EU/EEA but do not have a UK residential address, you might be able to open a basic bank account. In this case, the documentation you need is different - to prove your residential address you will need the following²:
- A full statement from a major bank or building society from within the last 3 months, giving your account details
- A statement from Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Diners Club - no more than 3 months old
- A utility bill - not a mobile phone bill - from within the last 3 months
- A mortgage or home loan statement from within the last 12 months
For this account all documents must be original and certified, and show the same name and residential address that you provided when you applied for the account. There may be a charge to return documents sent in error so it’s well worth checking what is acceptable in advance.
Barclays can accept a couple of other documents, in very narrow circumstances. If you don’t have any bills or a tenancy agreement in your name because you live with family for example, you may be able to submit a letter of introduction from your parent or guardian, so long as they are a Barclays customer, too¹.
If you’re a student or new graduate you may also be able to provide UCAS information, and confirmation from your university that you are enrolled there, or a letter from the Student Loan Company confirming you are a UK student¹.
If you are looking for a flexible and convenient account, which allows you to hold your money in pounds, make payments and have a linked debit card, then you might find the multi-currency account from Wise works for you.
As you can open an account online, and choose how you verify your identity, this account is a great choice for customers who may not yet have the usual proof of address documents required by UK high street banks.
*All sources checked on November 16, 2018
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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