Chicken or egg.. How do I get a proof of address without a perm address?!
July 7, 2011 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Moving to London: What are the simplest & quickest ways to obtain a proof of address letter?

After a couple of years of planning, saving & preparation, I've finally made the move to the UK (specifically London). I'm a dual-passport holder (and by extension, citizen) of both Australia & the United Kingdom which has made a number of things quite easy so far.

However I've quickly discovered the joys of the British bureaucracy while trying to establish an NI number & bank account. At the moment I'm staying with a friend on & off for a month or so until I've done some travelling & eventually find my own place. How can I get a "proof of address" when I don't have a permanent address yet? Also, how can I get this cheaply!

It all very much seems like a chicken & egg scenario... Can anyone help?

P.S. As an aside.. having just moved, I'd love to know any tips for finding great local online communities & ways to meet people. Twitter meetups, or other similar types of events have worked well for me in the past to make new friends and I'd love to find something similar in London.

Thanks for all your help! :)
posted by snarkle to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
have you called a bank to ask what constitutes proof of address for them? some libraries, for example, will give you a library card as long as you bring along mail of any kind that clearly arrived at an address and explain you just moved; maybe you can then use the library card as proof of address.
posted by lia at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Tenancy agreement is usually definitive provided it gels with a passport. Welcome to London!
posted by dmt at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: Definitely ring the bank etc and ask them. Here in Ireland I was able to give my husband a proof of address letter saying he lived with me, which was coupled with a gas bill in my name (I got here first and everything is in my name). That worked for the government but not the bank. The resulting government letter then worked for the bank. I was able to use a letter from my employer and/or a note on business letter head from the guesthouse I was staying in, but those two don't seem applicable for you. So firstly see if your friend can vouch for you and go from there.
posted by shelleycat at 12:31 PM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: I just moved here in January, and what ended up working for me was a bank statement from home (so, your Australian bank in your case) sent to my UK address. It's a bank statement, so they were happy. My experience was also that I first tried opening an account with Natwest, jumped through all their hoops ("sorry, this is a weekly bank statement, we need a monthly bank statement" !@$#@!), waited for a month and then was denied (!) a bank account. I then stepped into an HSBC branch, and had an account within an hour. So, my advice is to try multiple banks at the same time, and pursue all your options in the hopes that something will work.

Another thing I was told is that you could open a Passport account with HSBC. They don't require proof of address, but they charge a fee. You can then use the statements you're getting from the Passport account to open a real account, and stop paying the fees.

I would also like to extend my sincerest expression of support and compassion while you chug through the mind-boggling stupidity of this system.
posted by spaghettification at 12:32 PM on July 7, 2011

Your main priority really needs to be a bank account. Bank accounts are your key to any and all other services and they allow you to get paid. A bank account also allows you to start to build a credit history. And bank statements also count as proof of address in some cases, normally together with some other form of ID like a passport or driving license. When I moved to the UK some 13 years ago HSBC was definitely the way to go for a bank account. For what it's worth I still have that account.

Once you have got somewhere to live permanently get a utility bill in your name (gas, electricity, water, landline telephone) and that will cover you for all cases where the bank statement is not deemed acceptable. Another consideration is council tax bills - it does not hurt to have one with your name on. But again, this requires you to actually live somewhere.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:03 PM on July 7, 2011

To answer your actual question I am pretty sure I never actually had to produce a proof of access letter for anything - I had my passport, my German bank statements and my enrolment form and tenancy agreement for halls of residence and between them they got me my UK bank account and my NI number.

Random thought but could you and your friend not draft a tenancy agreement for a room in friend's home if you find that a tenancy agreement would be acceptable proof of address for something you need to obtain? Clearly your friend should consider what their living situation is and if this could cause a problem for them - e.g. single person discount for council tax or they rent and their lease prevents subletting etc. If you really just draft it, sign it, submit it with whatever application you're making and then tear it up again it is unlikely to cause a problem with any of the above but the both of you may not be comfortable even with the theoretical risk.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:21 PM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: The proof of residency thing is a bitch. Get your existing Australian bank to send you statement. Make sure you take all pages of the statement, including the blank one which just has a page number on it (the reason my account opening was delayed a month).
posted by tavegyl at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: Oh, and your friend's address should be fine. They just want to make sure you live somewhere in the UK.
posted by tavegyl at 1:32 PM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: Forward a US bill or bills to your friend's UK address; credit cards are helpful this way. Use that address; if your friend is willing to write you a lease (that you can give right back and tear up) that would also help.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:48 PM on July 7, 2011

If you have a job or go to university, then ask them to send you a letter to your new address. Something like 'Congratulations on being accepted into our program' is enough. Armed with that letter, go to the bank. If they make a fuzz, then go to a different branch. Once you got the account, they'll send you a letter as well. With both of these letters (plus passport and other docs you need) you can now go to the job centre and apply for your NI number.
posted by cerbous at 1:57 PM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Really amazed at the quick responses! I've taken your advice and ordered a bank statement from my Australian bank to my friend's UK address. I do need to get a UK bank account organised pretty soon, but I'm not desperate just yet as my Australian bank account has this nifty feature where it doesn't charge ANY fees for overseas ATM withdrawals. I can use it like a regular local "chip & pin" card.

The NI number is actually pretty straightforward when you have a passport. I just need a proof of address. I don't plan to start looking for work until after I've had a good holiday & finished travelling in about 6 weeks time.

While I'm wrestling with bureaucracy, I'm just going to enjoy summer in London. Sightsee, hang out with friends, sit in a park, down some pints at the pub. So much stuff is happening, it's fantastic :)

Thanks heaps everyone. :)
posted by snarkle at 2:16 PM on July 7, 2011

You'll be staying somewhere so you'll have a tenancy agreement (I have a good example of one, Mefi mail me if you'd like it) which might be sufficient. The best thing you can get is your name on a council tax bill - a friend might be able to help you out with this but different councils take different amounts of time to issue a new bill so this might not work. Perhaps a friend could transfer their gas or electric bills in your name for a few months?

Choose your bank carefully! I recommend HSBC to everyone who moves here as my experience with them is consistently better than everyone who goes with Lloyds/Barclays/Santander/Natwest. You could also try Metro Bank which is new and focused on customer service.
posted by quiet at 6:32 PM on July 16, 2011

I'm sure this has been sorted, but for anyone else- I move A LOT- and when I need proof of address I instantly get it by ordering a month of travel insurance at my new address- they e-mail you a pdf document straight away that you can print off and use.
posted by misspony at 6:36 AM on November 12, 2011

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