How to get Proof of Address to open a Bank Account and set up your National Insurance Number

Need to open a bank account but don't have a secure UK address? Or are you looking for somewhere to keep your mail secure while you find your own accommodation or whilst you are travelling? We can help.

Moving overseas presents challenges, some that help us to become stronger, others that can push our patience to a breaking point! The latter is certainly true of the whole opening a UK bank account saga; you can’t open a bank account without a proof of address, but you can’t get proof of address because you need a bank account statement as part of the identity requirements for renting your own flat! Arghhh, infuriating! But why is it so hard?!

What is a 'proof of address'?

Proof of address basically means providing an official document that provides evidence that you can be contacted somewhere. For official processes like opening a bank account or applying for a National Insurance number, you are going to find it very hard to do these things without having an address.

The trouble is that you need these things to then have 'proof of address' so it is a vicious circle that can have you tearing your hair out!

Proof of address documents usually include things like:

  • Bank Account statement
  • HMRC documentation (eg NI number letter)
  • Drivers licence
  • Utility Bill (gas, electricity etc)
  • Council Tax documentation
  • Tenancy Agreement (sometimes)

When will I be asked for proof of address?

If you are opening a High Street Bank account, such as through HSBC, Lloyds, etc then you will find that these UK Banks will require two forms of identity, with one acting as your ‘proof of address ’. Which, if you’re from overseas is far from easy! Because while you can easily produce a passport for one form of ID, the proof of address has to be in the form of a utility bill or an official letter. So, unless you have a letter from the HMRC (Her Majesty Revenue and Customs), a utility bill or the local tax authority then you’re going to struggle with this.

Do I need a UK address for my National Insurance number application?

Yes, and similar to the banks, the HMRC will not accept a temporary address such as a hotel or hostel. They will need an actual UK residential address where they can send your NI number to.

What is very important to remember here is that the address used for your NI becomes the default address for anything and everything tax related, including automatic tax refunds (yes these do happen here!). So if you use an obscure address, a random Aunt on the Isle of Wight or an address where you couch surfed for a week, you could end up missing out on cheques, as you won’t even know about them!

Can I use a post box as proof of address?

Unfortunately, a post box address is not considered a residential address if it includes PO Box in the address title and none of the banks or HMRC will accept this as a secure uk address.

Usually the address has to take the shape of:

  • Your name
  • House name or number
  • Street name (and number if applicable)
  • Town / City
  • Postcode

What about the Post Restante?

Sadly not as this is just another PO Box. You can only use it for 3 months and your post will only be held for a maximum of 14 days.

How can I get a UK address without paying a fee for it?

You can you use a friend or relative's house address – if you have anyone that you know here then you can ask to use their address. During the first couple of months you’ll have quite a bit of correspondence so you need to make sure they are going to be there for at least 8 weeks so you can collect any mail that arrives for you.

Air BnB – if you are staying in temporary housing through this platform then you could ask the owner if you can use their address? You never know! But remember that you will have mail coming to you over the first 8 weeks, including your National Insurance Number so you will need to have access to this address for that entire time.

Also remember that whatever address you use for your NI number will become the default address for all your tax correspondence. So you must remember to change it when you move otherwise you might never know about the Tax Refund Cheque you received for £764.00 !

Does BritBound offer a UK address?

Yes, BritBound offers a mail holding and forwarding service. Which means you can use our address and we will let you know when mail has arrived for you. If you want us to forward this on to you then you just have to respond to our ‘You’ve got mail’ e-mail with the UK address you want us to forward it to.

You can read more about how our service works either below or on the sign up page.

Become a BritBound member and purchase our Mail Holding and Forwarding service here.

Is there anyway to open a bank account without proof of address?

There are limited options but you can read more about these here.

***BritBound Mail Holding and Forwarding - FAQ's***

How will I know that mail has arrived for me?

When post arrives we will send you out an e-mail notifying you of this. In this email we will also ask you whether you would like your mail held ready for you to collect or be forwarded (you can supply the address, just not overseas).

How do I inform you of an address change?

In each e-mail we send you out notifying you that post has arrived we will let you know the address we have on record. If this has changed you simply just notify us by return e-mail and we can update our records.

Do you forward the mail using a tracked and signed service?

We will unless you are not going to be able to sign for it, you just need to tell us this and we will send it via regular post.

Can you forward my mail to an overseas address?

Yes, but an additional overseas fee will be charged. We will use the Royal Mail Track and Sign service and will send you a reference number so you can monitor the progress.

Where do I collect the mail from?

All mail is held at the London Base in Fulham – the address is

  • BritBound,
  • 15 Hurlingham Studios,
  • Ranelagh Gardens,
  • London
  • Fulham,
  • SW6 3PA

What hours can I collect my mail from?

Due to COVID you will need to give us 24 hours notice prior to collecting your mail, this is so that we can leave it at reception for you. The Base is open for mail collection Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. If for any reason you are unable to collect within these hours then let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you with an out of hours time.

Can you open my mail so I can see what it is before I collect it?

Yes – you just need to give us permission to do so in writing – we will securely seal any envelopes that we open.

Can I send someone else to collect it?

Yes – you just need to give us permission to do so in writing, and they will need to bring ID with them.

What happens when the expiry date passes?

You will receive an e-mail letting you know that your mail holding and forwarding is about to expire with an option to extend the service.

Can I have parcels sent?

Yes absolutely, but please ensure that any shipping or VAT charges are paid (the better companies will quote an inclusive price) as we cannot pay for any deliveries on your behalf. We cannot be held liable for any perishable goods (! – ask us about the cheese incident!) or breakages!

Will you sign for Amazon / Ebay and internet purchases that require a signature?

Yes, we will. Provided there are no unpaid custom charges outstanding.

Will you hold my mail after my mail holding has expired?

You will receive an e-mail letting you know that your mail holding service is about to expire. We will hold for a further 2 weeks but please understand that we have a lot of post arrive here and space is limited so we will have to return to sender if you do not make ongoing arrangements for your correspondence.