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Banks to refuse to open accounts for British passport holders if they appear on Home Office immigration blacklist

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For Immediate Release

Banks can and should refuse to open accounts even when staff believe the Home Office has listed the applicant as an illegal immigrant by mistake and the person has a passport or other documents proving they are legally resident in the UK.

The Home Office today published guidance for banks and building societies confirming that the details of both new applicants and existing customers must be checked against a list of illegal immigrants. If the name, date of birth and address match the blacklist the person should be refused permission to open an account – even if they hold a British passport or have other evidence of residency.

Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said:

“It is only a matter of time before a family is forced into destitution, unable to open a bank account, to pay rent, to accept a job because an unknown bureaucrat at the Home Office has mistakenly blacklisted one of the parents.

“Even a valid British passport will no longer be enough to support their application to open an account. This is deeply sinister and must be a concern for everyone, including those who do hold British passport”.

The latest guidance from the Home Office states: “If a customer has documentary evidence (such as a passport or a Biometric Residence Permit) that appears to contradict the Home Office data and shows that the customer is lawfully present in the UK – then the bank or building society may contact the Home Office to confirm if the data held by Cifas is correct.

“This course of action should only be taken in exceptional circumstances when there is a definite reason to believe an error has occurred. There is no requirement to make this check and the default position should be to refuse the application.”


  1. Satbir Singh can be reached on 020 7553 7456.
  2. JCWI is an independent national charity established in 1967. Our mission is to promote justice, fairness and equality in immigration and asylum law and policy.