Getting a Monzo Bank Account as a Refugee

Following on from yesterday’s blog post about getting a Monzo account as a recent immigrant, today we’re talking about the challenges faced by refugees.


It’s never too late I have been waiting for this from Monzo since I read this from @jonas

I would definitely recommend few people I know have struggled to get an account in past.


What fraction of potential refugee account holders have BRPs or national IDs?

Not knowing the first thing about asylum processes, I was wondering if this puts Monzo in an already strong position or if there are many people currently unable to apply.


“potential refugees” don’t hold a BRP. Actual refugees hold BRP. It’s (as the name suggests) a residence permit, and you get it at the end of your asylum application process, as it indicates you are now free to reside and work in this country. A BRP is an accepted form of ID with almost all banks. Nothing special there… (although sometimes employees are poorly trained.)

Anecdotally I know that “potential refugees” often have a problem producing ID: They will often not have passports (or had to surrender them to the Home Office for their application). National IDs are often lost (or “lost”). And even if they aren’t, they are rarely helpful (and, again, often with the Home Office). I severely doubt that Monzo will accept non-European national IDs. For example: Would Monzo accept an Arabic ID like this one from Syria - little more than a laminated piece of paper? I doubt it! The “national ID” seems a total red herring to me in connection with refugees.

That’s why Application Registration Cards are so important to asylum seekers: They can contain “claimed” identity data, and some major high street banks do accept them as valid form of ID (at least in theory: if training is an issue with BRPs, it’s even more of an issue with ARCs). It’s a shame that Monzo don’t.

Overall, I’m afraid to say, this seems like a fluff article, and Monzo is actually behind their competition here …


My ambiguous grammar was bad, sorry. :stuck_out_tongue: I meant refugees that were potential account holders.

Regardless, if Monzo are reliablely accepting BRPs and national identity documents then it sounds like they are at least on par with the rest of the industry. You’re right to wonder how far that goes though - at what point does a document not provide enough assurance of someone’s identity. Are people being excluded based on the standards of their nation’s documents.

Hopefully the blocks that are stopping Monzo from accepting ARCs are not insurmountable, but the post made it sound like there wasn’t immediate hope.

I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. As I said, some banks to accept ARCs, wo are ahead of Monzo here. However, those banks do of course require proof of address, and that can sometimes be difficult to obtain, as asylum seekers don’t usually have utility bills.


Totally agree with what you wrote here. A few months ago I asked Monzo what other alternative IDs is Monzo accepting and they said ARC doesn’t count. Working with asylum seekers, I understand why Monzo cannot yet use the ARC as a form of ID proof, since ARC cannot yet confirm their immigration status and Monzo could only verify the documents digitally. Sadly Monzo is still behind high street banks on this.

However, this is still a good news that fintech companies finally realise refugees also have smartphones and Internet. I had an argument a while ago about why London cannot yet replace the Oyster card with contactless: The UK still have at least 1 million people unable to access basic banking services.


Great idea! Specially for homeless people - noone carry cash or change anymore, if i could monzo somene money i would but im not going to walk to cashpoint and wack back. Could also be like a donation pot in my poits, if Monzo could then distribute my donation to homless/ in need person

Perhaps stupid question here, but how would a refugee or a recent immigrant go about getting a bank account in the first place?

A blog article on a online-only bank explaining the potential ease is one thing… But how does that information actually filter down to a refugee or recent immigrant who needs to get a bank account?

I’m just not sure how those who might need this service would come to find it?

It even says in the article “A bank account is essential to starting your life in the UK. Things like renting a flat or getting a phone usually need you to prove you have a bank account.”

Bit of a catch 22 if you need a phone to sign up?

I love that Monzo are trying to make this easy and open… But for an online only bank with no phsyical presence, I just find it hard to understand how this would work in practice…


Needing a bank account for a phone seems plainly untrue. You could walk into Tesco and buy an cheap unlocked android phone and a £1 SIM card no bother.


Well done Monzo!!

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