Refugees and asylum seekers: How to get a bank account

Find out the steps to take to get a UK bank account if you're a refugee or asylum seeker.

If you are a refugee (or have the right to remain in the UK)

To get a UK bank account you will need:

  • A form of ID (passport, biometric residence permit);
  • A proof of address (this could be a recent bill or a letter from the Home Office).

Try Monzo

If you're a refugee who's recently arrived in the UK, you can open a UK bank account with Monzo – even if you don’t have a passport or ID card.

If you are an asylum seeker

Try one of the following options:

Option 1: Traditional bank account

These are free to open and have no fees, the only disadvantage is that many branches will require a type of identification and proof of address that is sometimes hard for asylum seekers to provide. However, it is worth trying a few different banks and branches. Try METRO bank. 

April 2022 Update for Scotland residents: Bank of Scotland accounts for Asylum Seekers

Bank of Scotland has opened their doors for Asylum Seekers for Classic Accounts. Before you apply here is what you need:

ARC card

Mears Tenancy Agreement OR

If you are a volunteer with a charity organisation, ask them to write a support letter. The support letter should include your address and your participation in the organisation. The letter can be addressed as: To Whom it may concern.

Here are the steps:

1. Go online and fill in this Application Form. Ensure that your details are correct before submission.

2. Choose a branch. Or try this branch.

Once you have finished your application you get a notification in your email with a reference number. Go to the branch with your proof of ID and reference number to finalise and open the account.

Option 2: Traditional bank basic account

These are free to open and have no fees, but more restrictive than full accounts. Most traditional banks offer this option. You would need the same documents as in A) above.

All documents need to be very recent and originals, not photocopies. If you have more than one, it is better to bring everything. If they don’t accept one document, they might accept another.

NB It isn’t illegal for someone seeking asylum to have a bank account – but it will depend on the stage they are at with their application for asylum.

If the claim for asylum is rejected and all right of appeal has been exhausted then the person will not be ‘legally resident’ in the UK and the position changes.

The Immigration Act 2014 & 2016 prevents banks from offering accounts to ‘disqualified persons’. Under the Act a ‘disqualified person’ is:

(2)A person is within this subsection if he or she—
(a) is in the United Kingdom, and
(b) requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom but does not have it.

To apply for a bank account, you need the following proof of ID and address:

Documents that can be used as proof of ID include:

  • Current EU/EEA passport, photo driving licence or identity card.
  • All other current signed passports.
  • HMRC Tax Notification.
  • Young Scots Card.
  • Biometric Residence Permit.
  • Blue disabled drivers pass.
  • Benefits entitlement letter.
  • Home Office Immigration Status Document accompanied by proof of right to reside.
  • Home Office Application Registration Card.
  • Northern Ireland Voters Card

Documents that can be used as proof of address include:

  • Current EU/EEA photo driving licence.
  • Benefits entitlement letter.
  • HMRC Tax Notification.
  • Local authority tax bill for the current year.
  • Utility bill (such as gas or landline phone bill) dated within the last six months.
  • Bank, building society or UK credit union statement.
  • UK, EU/EEA mortgage statement.
  • Current UK provisional driver’s licence
  • UK credit card statement.
  • Tenancy agreement issued by a solicitor, housing association, local council or reputable letting agency.

If either ID or Address Verification cannot be provided from the standard list , then a letter of introduction can be provided from a charity or other reputable, professional organisation. 

For more info email:
Positive Action in Housing Feb 2022

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