Opening a basic bank account

The Money Advice Service has up to date information about opening a bank account for your benefit payments.  

Most high street banks and building societies have accounts that you can have your benefits paid into.  There are also local credit union accounts and the Post Office operates a Card Account for benefits but only for benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Generally, if you don’t have a bank account you should try to open a basic bank account.  Most banks’ websites will show details of their products and what ID you require to open that particular account.  Think about how you want to access your money and pick a bank or building society that is accessible to you and provides the facilities you want.  For example, can you withdraw your money from a cash machine locally for free?  There are also banks that provide telephone or postal accounts where no branches are provided and these may suit your needs.

What do I need to open a basic bank account?

In order to open a basic bank account you will need two forms of ID to verify your name and address.  These will need to be from different sources so you can’t provide a Housing Benefit letter and a Council Tax demand as both will be from the same organisation. Any letters or bills also need to show your current address and be dated within three months of the application to open a bank account.

Each bank has its own rules about what they will accept as ID but valid forms of ID might be: -

  • A utility bill (e.g. gas, electric but not a mobile phone bill)
  • Council Tax demand
  • Tenancy agreement (but only if you are a housing association tenant)
  • Passport
  • Photo driving license
  • A letter from the DWP regarding payment of benefits
  • A letter from the council confirming your address and that you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Local Support for Council Tax

Please note that most banks do not accept a birth certificate as proof of ID.

What if I am finding this very difficult?

We are happy to help you with opening a bank account if you are experiencing difficulties as in most cases you should be able to open an account.  Please telephone (01723) 232399 for assistance.