Having a bank account is really important but not everyone is allowed to open or hold a bank account in the UK.
Young asylum seekers and undocumented migrants have always found it difficult to open a bank account in the UK – usually due to lack of documentation.
Since 2014, the UK government has put restrictions on who can open a bank account –depending on their immigration status.
Things got even stricter in 2016. Banks were asked to check the immigration status of people who already have accounts as well.
If you want to open a bank account in the UK, you will need specific documentation:
- You will need to have proof of identity, and
- Proof of address.
- Different banks will allow different types of documentation. For example, not all banks accept an ARC card (a card given to a person when they seek asylum in the UK).
You can usually check what a bank will accept on their website.
If the bank refuses to open an account because of your immigration status, they should give you a reason why they can’t. If you think they have wrongly refused you (because you have permission to be in the UK) you can challenge this by writing to the Home Office.
For information on opening a bank account in English, Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Pashto and Tigrinya: https://refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/refugee-council-launches-new-guide-to-help-refugees-open-a-bank-account/
For more information on bank accounts and immigration status – see our fact sheet at www.childrenslegalcentre.com
For more information on bank accounts and money generally, see the money advice service website: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk