Everything you need to do to setup your life in the UK requires a secure UK address for official documentation to be sent to. For example, bank accounts and National Insurance Number (NINO) require a UK address. Neither the banks or HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) will send out official documentation to an unsecured address like a hostel or a hotel.
It is possible to get proof of address and there are a variety of ways to achieve this. However, it’s not possible to get an address before you move to the UK without the help of a company, family, friends or having a place you’ve rented or bought beforehand.
I moved to the UK solo and found out first hand what challenges there are in getting a UK address. It can seem like a catch 22 situation. How do I get a bank account without an address? How do I get a NINO without an address? On the other hand, how do I get an address without a bank account?
Options for Getting Proof of a UK Address
Here are a few options you can try to get proof of a UK Address:
Depending on what your requirement is for a proof of address, some of the options provided will be more successful evidence than others, so please keep this in mind.
How do I get UK address using family or friends?
As I mentioned above this can make the process easier! There are a couple of ways you can get documents to prove you have a UK address with family or friends. From using them as a reference to get your NINO, to sending your bank statement to them and registering to vote in their area.
1. Using a family or friends address to get an NI Number (NINO)
A NINO letter can be used as a proof of address, however, some banks don’t allow this as proof so double check beforehand which ones do.
So how do I use my family or friends to get a NINO? I have not tried this method as I didn’t have this option available but you can get your family member or friend to write a letter confirming that you are staying at their address. This letter must be supported by a tenancy or rental agreement, utility bill or bank statement in the name of the person who issued the letter.
I have put together a template you can use for the letter (just copy and paste, fill/delete the sections that apply to you and there you go! You have a letter from your family or friends).
RE: <insert name>
I <insert friends or relative name (as name stated on the utility bill or bank statement)> confirm that <your passport name>, date of birth <insert date of birth>, is my tenant/friend/relative (delete as appropriate) and has known me <insert year> year. She/He is currently residing with me at <insert address that is on a utility bill or bank statement> and has been here since <insert date>.
She/He currently pays me a rental amount of £ <insert amount> per week/month.
She/He is staying with me rent free.
Should you require any further information, please contact me on the following number.
<insert friends or relative name (as name stated on the utility bill or bank statement)>
Just take the above letter with the evidence and hopefully you will be one step closer to getting your NINO. As I mentioned I have not tried this method so if in doubt just give them a call beforehand to confirm.
2. Evidence of address via the Engineered Way
This approach is generally referred to as the Engineered Way and is basically getting your home country bank to send you a bank statement with your friends or family address. It’s super simple, just use the following steps:
- Adjust the address on your file on your non-UK bank account to a UK address.
- Once the change in address had gone through apply for a for your non-UK bank to send a statement.
- The statement will now be delivered to your UK address providing a proof of address.
It’s been a successful and unsuccessful route for people who have used this so keep this in mind. You may wait a month and then find a bank doesn’t accept this as proof (for example).
3. Register to Vote
Another way you can get a proof of address is to register to vote with your local council. Search for your local council and get added to the “electoral roll” and then they will send you a letter confirming your registration which is an “official letter from the council”. This is only applicable if your nationality allows you to be eligible to vote. For example; EEA citizen and Commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Once you get this letter you can then use this as proof of address to get your NINO. Once you get your NINO then you would have two letters that can be used for proof of address to show the bank. Although be mindful that using NI as proof of address could take up to 6-8 weeks to get a letter delaying you getting an account.
P.S. Registering to vote is a good idea anyway as it helps build your credit score.
4. Using a company to set-up a UK Address
Before I moved over I paid for a Quick Start Pack with Visa First to assist me in the process. This provides a mail holding service which I made an assumption could be my way around this whole address palaver but unfortunately they don’t provide a service that can be used by HRMC. Quick Start Packs no longer exist with Visa First, however, they still offer packages to get things like your NINO.
5. Use BritBound to set-up your address
You can sign up with BritBound who will provide you with a UK address and help you set up your bank account and NINO. They will contact you when you have mail. You can either collect your mail in person or ask them to forward it (tracked) to an address of your choice.
Whoo! BritBound was the company that got me out of this Catch 22 situation. It’s so stressful being stuck in the loop of not getting a job, bank account, NINO or flat all due to not having an address.
The package is called ‘The Social One’ which will set you back £85 but will cover all the essentials you need. (I am not affiliated with Britbound, they were just awesome when I moved to the UK.)
Why can’t I get a virtual UK address?
An option I looked into was getting a virtual address but virtual address companies also need a UK address to be able to set one up (I know right! Frustrating). The reason is to prevent potential fraud and money laundering via these services so the government put in regulations like the London Local Authorities Act 2012 and the Money Laundering Regulations Act 2017.
This meant that these services have to put you through what’s called the Identity Verification Process (KYC). When you fill in the registration forms your personal details will be run through an identity verification system which checks your name, UK address and date of birth. If you pass this check then you will have a virtual address.
Comment below and let me know your experience on getting a UK Address! And any other processes that worked for you.