Bank of Ireland makes it easier for asylum seekers to open bank accounts

  • Account opening process reviewed to make it more user-friendly for asylum seekers
  • New website hub provides guidance and support with information in 19 languages
  • Financial inclusion is a key pillar of the Bank’s Financial Wellbeing programme

13 May 2021: Bank of Ireland has made it easier for international protection applicants to access everyday banking services by accepting alternative State-issued documentation as proof of identity and address when opening current accounts. The Bank has also launched a new website hub offering practical guidance and support to asylum seekers and refugees on account opening.

Asylum seekers may not have the traditional documentation that most banks – including Bank of Ireland – require to set up a bank account. They may also have more limited knowledge of the local banking system and the options available to them.

The Bank has today launched a dedicated website hub for asylum seekers with summary information provided in 19 languages*. The hub explains the types of bank account available, the documentation that is required to open one, and how to apply. Additional translation support is available from a volunteer panel of Bank of Ireland staff comprising speakers of more than 30 languages, including members of the Bank’s Multicultural and Accessibility employee networks.

Bank of Ireland has also tailored its current account opening requirements to accept substitute State-issued documentation such as a Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC), ‘Stamp 4’ Irish Residency Permits and/or the Irish-government-issued Refugee Travel Document.

Francesca McDonagh, Bank of Ireland Group Chief Executive said: “Financial inclusion is by no means the only challenge facing asylum seekers but it’s a hugely significant one. Members of my family fled Egypt and sought asylum in the UK, so I’m particularly proud that Bank of Ireland has shown leadership on this issue. A bank account is so essential nowadays that most of us probably take it for granted. Without a bank account asylum seekers are denied a safe place to hold their money, not to mention access to a range of other services. This makes it harder for them to start building a new life here.”

“At Bank of Ireland, we are committed to improving the financial wellbeing of all our customers. At the heart of financial wellbeing is financial inclusion and that means access to basic banking products for all. The requirements for identification and verification are an important part of how banks help to combat money laundering and other illegal activity. However, we’re very aware that this can also present unnecessary barriers to opening accounts, and that is why we are making these important changes.”

Nick Henderson, Chief Executive of the Irish Refugee Council, said: “We strongly welcome Bank of Ireland’s significant progress on this issue. This new policy is a considerable step forward. A bank account is a basic necessity and essential for someone building their new life and independence in Ireland. We particularly welcome the clear recognition of the Temporary Residence Certificate as proof of identity. We hope that other banks and institutions follow Bank of Ireland’s lead and this becomes normal and basic practice.”

*The 19 languages are: Albanian, Persian (Dari), Arabic, French, Portuguese (Brazil), Georgian, Kurdish Sorani, Pashto, Simplified Chinese, Romanian, Hausa (West Africa), Shona (Zimbabwe), Somali, Yoruba (West Africa), Vietnamese, Urdu, Turkish, Tigrinya (Eritrea).