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How to get a bank account

If you are a refugee (or 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).
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.
As a refugee we recommend you apply to MONZO: https://monzo.com/blog/2018/05/30/getting-bank-account-refugee/
They have the best service and technology in the market (and the best app :)

If you are an asylum seeker

Before you get your refugee status and when you’re an asylum seeker you are likely to find it difficult to open a current account. You can 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. We advise to try METRO bank in particular. You will need to bring documents as in A) above.

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. 1.
    Go online and fill in this Application Form. Ensure that your details are correct before submission.
  2. 2.
    Choose a branch. If you are in Glasgow, we recommend this branch as we have previous positive experience with them.
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.

Option 3: Non-traditional banks

These usually have fees, so are more expensive, but the advantage is that they are very easy to open for anyone. Here are the most well-known ones with a comparison of the fees:
Pockit
www.pockit.com
Monese
monese.com
One-off cost to get the card
£0.99
£4.95
UK ATM withdrawals
£0.99
£1.00
Monthly fee
£0.99*
None
Instant Top-up
None
0.35% fee
UK Bank Transfer (out)
£0.99
None
Cash Top-up
£0.99
2.0-3.5% fee
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If you are a refugee (or right to remain in the UK)
If you are an asylum seeker
Option 1: Traditional bank account
Option 2: Traditional bank basic account
Option 3: Non-traditional banks