If you’ve ever applied for something official, such as a mortgage or to open a bank account, it’s likely that you have been asked to provide proof of your address in the UK. This is part of a standard verification process to check your identity and to prove where your fixed residence is.
However, you may be unsure about what to submit as proof of your address. Banks and other organisations are usually particular about what documentation they accept, as it has to come from an official source. Most companies have their own guidelines, but there is also much agreement across the board on what is or isn’t acceptable proof.
Luckily, there are various types of documentation that you can submit to prove your home address. It’s a good idea to keep such documents on hand for future use because you never know when you will be asked to provide evidence of your residential address.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what documents can be used as evidence of your current home address, why you are required to supply them and alternative methods if you can’t source the documentation.
What counts as proof of address?
There are various documents that will contain your current residential address and therefore count as valid proof of address. These include utility bills, bank statements and insurance policies. However, you should always check what documents are accepted by the requesting party in case they have preferences over the documents you send.
Any proof of address should clearly state your name, and feature the logo of the authorised organisation, such as an insurance company or bank. The document should also be dated to prove that it is recent and includes up-to-date information.
Continue reading to find out why you may need to provide proof of your address and what you should do if you don’t have any documents to hand.
Why do I need proof of address?
The main reason that organisations ask for proof of address is so that a company or organisation have a secure way of contacting you. Online points of contact such as emails can be hacked, which is why companies usually prefer to have an alternative that isn’t susceptible to hackers.
Banks will ask for a proof of address when you open a new account or want to take out a loan or mortgage. This is so that they can make sure that you are a legitimate customer and they will be able to get in contact with you through the post. The address is also a way of finding you, if there are problems, such as a lack of payments from your end.
Banks usually need proof of your address so that they can keep you updated about changes to your account or notify you of the release of your recent bank statement. Banks also need to know your permanent residence in case they want to contact you about missed payments or if they have been unable to correspond with you through email or phone calls.
You may also be required to provide proof of your address if you are applying for a loan, including a student loan. This is because it proves you live in the UK and are easily and securely contactable.
Proof of address is also a good way to validate that you are who you say you are. Criminals may try to create a false identity in order to steal money or gain access to sensitive information. By requesting proof of address, companies and organisations are performing a security check that deters criminals from money laundering and ensures that your money is only accessed by you.
Proof of address can also help to ensure that your personal information is sent to the right address, which can further prevent fraud from occurring. It’s important that sensitive documents, such as your bank statements, are posted to your current address. As criminals may use bank statements to impersonate you, it’s good practice to make it a priority to let your bank know immediately after you move house.
When will I be asked to provide proof of address?
There are a few instances where you will be asked to provide proof of address, such as when opening a new bank account. This is for security reasons, and you’ll usually need to show a valid photo ID as well, such as a driving licence.
Companies and organisations usually ask for you to provide evidence of your address as soon as you apply for an account or financial aid. You will usually have a couple of weeks to submit this information, although it can vary.
What documents can I use as proof of address?
The proof of address is used to verify your identity, as a way of deterring fraudsters, and to set up a safe channel to correspond with you. Application forms typically ask you for your full name, phone number, email and home address as a minimum, so that you can be traced and contacted in the future. There are a number of acceptable documents that can be used as evidence when you are asked to provide proof of your current home address.
- Utility bills (electricity, gas, water, internet and telephone bills)
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Insurance policies (including home and car)
- Mortgage statements and contracts
- Driving licenses
- Letters from an official educational institute (such as a university or college)
- Rental contracts
- Tax letters from HMRC
- Council tax statements
- Court summonses
- Vehicle registrations
- Letters from a student loan company
Such documents should be as recent as possible and should clearly feature the date they were issued. All documents should also feature your name and residential address, along with the issuing organisation’s name and logo for authentication purposes.
Some organisations, such as most UK banks, accept physical photocopies or scans of documents sent by email. You may also be asked to provide the original document, which will usually be sent back to you soon after the company or organisation has performed the necessary checks.
You should always check with a company or organisation what stipulations they may apply to valid proof of address documents. For example, an organisation may require a document to have been issued within the last 30 days to count as recent documentation.
It’s also advisable to check which documents your bank accepts before you start your application process for mortgages or loans. This will prevent your application from getting delayed because you don’t have the correct proof of address to hand.
Can I use online documents as proof of address?
Some online documents are accepted as proof of address, as long as they include the relevant information, such as your name, residential address and the company name and logo. However, companies and organisations often require physical copies of documents. You can usually request a physical copy of a document to be sent to you by contacting the company that the document is from.
In recent years, many companies have cut back on sending out physical paperwork in favour of digital copies. This has the benefit of keeping documents safe and secure behind passwords, and also of saving paper. However, most companies understand that there are situations where you need a physical copy and are more than happy to send one to you.
It’s a good idea to check whether the company accepts online documents. Alternatively, you may be able to print an online document yourself, as long as it still includes the relevant information which means it will be accepted as proof of address.
What documents don’t count as proof of address?
Unfortunately, not every document with your address on it will be accepted as suitable proof. For example, your birth certificate may count as proof of identification but it won’t typically count as proof of address. This is because the document is from a number of years ago and may not hold your present residential address. Passports don’t always count as proof of address either, as they may not list your most recent address.
You should check the date of the documents that you are going to submit as proof to see whether they were issued recently. A document may be in an acceptable form (such as a utility bill, credit card statement or council tax bill), but it won’t usually be accepted as sufficient proof if it was issued a number of months or years ago.
It’s advisable to check the guidelines of the company or organisation that you are dealing with to see what time limit they have on documents and the types of documents that they don’t accept under any circumstances.
How can I get proof of address?
It’s a good idea to keep important letters and documents in a secure location so that you can use them as proof of address in the future. You can usually plan in advance if you know when you will be making an official application, such as for a mortgage or a loan.
However, there may be occasions when you are caught off-guard by an application, which is why it’s helpful to know where you can access the relevant documents to help your application get processed as quickly as possible.
Aside from acting as proof of address, certain documents can also be used as proof of identity for similar applications. For example, you are usually required to provide a document with your name on it alongside a photo ID (such as a passport or driver’s licence) when filling out official applications.
What happens if I can’t provide proof of address?
You can talk to the company or organisation that you are dealing with if you are struggling to source proof of your current address. They may be able to advise you of alternative evidence that you could provide.
If in doubt, talk to your bank as they can advise you on the best course of action to take when applying for an account with them. You can also find a list of alternative documents that you can use to verify your address on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website.
You may be able to provide alternative documents if you don’t have a fixed residential address. For example, a letter from a warden at a shelter or refuge may be considered suitable evidence. Travellers can also ask for a letter from their local authority, whilst asylum seekers can use an application registration card.
There is no legal obligation for banks to accept these documents as an alternative proof of address, but you can enquire as to the reasoning behind their refusal if they won’t consider the alternative evidence.
You will be required to provide proof of address for various applications, such as to open a bank account, or apply for a loan or mortgage. Banks and other organisations usually need proof of your address to prove that you are who you say you are, and to establish a secure way of contacting you.
Proof of address can be used as a deterrent against criminals who may try to apply for things in your name, as it is unlikely that they will have the correct documents on hand to “verify” their claims.
There are lots of different documents that you can use as proof of address. Usually, documents are only acceptable if they include the official mark of an authenticated company and clearly feature your name, address and date. Most companies set a time limit on documents to ensure that the paperwork is recent and accurately shows your current residential address.