What you need to know

Opening a bank account enables you to to keep your money safe and to receive payments.

Benefit payments will usually be paid directly into your bank account and it is also the easiest way for employers to pay you when you get a job.

Refugee Council have also published this excellent guide to opening a Bank Account for refugees.

There are many types of bank account, make sure you find one that’s right for you.

A “basic” or “current” account is usually free and should meet your everyday banking needs. These usually allow you to pay money in, to get money out from a cashpoint or ATM and to pay your bills.

Where you need to go

You can visit most of the main banks in Leeds City Centre, but you may find there are not many in your local area. However most of the transactions you need to do can be done over the phone or online. The quickest and easiest way to find local banks is using Google Maps.

In person:

You could try these banks and building societies which offer basic bank accounts:

  • Barclays
  • Co-operative Bank
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Banking Group (Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds)
  • Nationwide
  • RBS Group (NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland)
  • Santander
  • TSB
  • Virgin Money UK (Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and Virgin Money)


This list is from the Money Savings Expert website:

Basic Bank Accounts

Banks and building societies have different rules for opening an account. If you are finding it difficult with one bank, it could be a good idea to try a different one.

What you need to bring with you

You will need to show the bank:

  • documents proving your identity – for example your passport or Biometric residency permit. If you are from the EU, they may also accept your national identity card or national driving licence.
  • your immigration status – your letter or residence permit from the Home Office.
  • your address – this could be a letter from the Home Office, bills sent to your address with with your name on, letters from Jobcentre or Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Some banks may ask for your national insurance number or proof of your income. If you are receiving welfare benefits, you can show them a letter from the Jobcentre or DWP.

All documents need to be current (i.e. BRP/Passports need to be valid) and all letters need to be dated within the last 6 weeks.

Getting extra support

If you need advice about opening and using a bank account, you can visit Citizens Advice Leeds. Citizens Advice Leeds is open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm to give advice by telephone, webchat and email. There is a face-to-face City Centre Drop-In, which is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9am and 1pm. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 1pm and 4pm, and Tuesday and Thursday between 9am and 4pm they are open for booked appointments only.

Oxford House, Oxford Row, Leeds, LS1 3BE.
0808 2787878
Leeds Citizens Advice

Find out more in the Banks and Money section of New to Leeds

Last Updated: 20 June 2024

Print Friendly, PDF & Email