What you need to know

You will need to open a bank account so that you can get paid or receive welfare benefits.

There are many types of bank account, but you will want a “basic” or “current account”. These usually allows you to pay money in, to get money out from a cashpoint/ATM and enable you to pay your bills and utilities.

To open a bank account you must prove three things:

  1. your identity,
  2. your immigration status and
  3. your address.

Many refugees find opening a bank account difficult.

This is because some banks are worried about giving accounts to people who are from countries that have trouble with war, corruption or terrorism. The banks are required to do extra checks on people from these countries. They are also required to check that everyone with a bank account has permission to be in the UK.

You can find out more about why banks ask for ID and how to prove who you are here:

More information on proving your ID with Banks

Where you need to go

You should go to a bank and request to open a “basic bank account” as soon as you are able.

The following banks offer basic bank accounts:

  1. Barclays,
  2. Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank,
  3. Co-operative Bank,
  4. HSBC,
  5. Lloyds Banking Group (Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds),
  6. Nationwide,
  7. RBS Group (NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank),
  8. Santander,
  9. TSB and
  10. Virgin Money.

The easiest bank accounts to open are Barclays Basic Account, Co-op Cashminder and Virgin Money’s Essential Current Account.

Find out more about Basic Bank Accounts here:

Basic Bank Accounts

What you need to bring with you

You will need to show the bank:

  • Documents proving your identity – eg your Biometric residency permit,
  • Your immigration status – your letter from the Home Office
  • Your address – this could be a letter from the Home Office, bills sent to your address with with your name on, letters from the Jobcentre or Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Some banks may ask for proof of your income. If you are receiving welfare benefits, you can show them the letter from the Jobcentre or DWP stating that you will be paid welfare benefits.
All documents need to be current (i.e. Passports need to be valid) and all letters need to be dated within the last 6 weeks.

If you are unable to open a bank account you will need to open a Post Office Card Account.

Last Updated: 29 June 2018

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