Practical information & advice

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Here you’ll find links to various parts of this site where we have information and useful resources relating to banking.

How do I open a bank account in the community?

Most banks now provide basic bank accounts and opening one of these shouldn’t be too difficult providing you have the relevant ID. Useful links include:

How do I open a bank account while I’m in prison?

As a result of a project run by Unlock several years ago, many prisons have arrangements in place with local banks to open accounts for people in prison. You should speak to the prison resettlement department for further information. Useful links include:

What can I do with my existing account while I’m in prison?

Nothing happens to your external bank account as a result of being in prison but some court disposals (for example a confiscation order) may have an impact on it or, the fact that there has been no activity. See the link below.

Can I get a bank account if I’ve got a criminal record and a history of fraud?

If the fraud is against a financial institution then you may find it difficult to open a High Street bank account as your details will be logged on the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS). You may have to consider other alternatives. See the link below.



Here you’ll find some of the common advice we give on banking. This is based on what we’ve learnt as a charity, as well as the real-life experiences of people with convictions.

  • Generally, having a conviction shouldn’t cause you problems in getting (or managing) a bank account in the community. The reason behind the work we’ve done in prisons has been to solve some of the related issues that people find difficulties with, primarily proving their identity.
  • There can sometimes be difficulties as a result of a record of fraud. Where this is the case, you should already know about it. If you have applied for an account and it has been refused, check your credit rating, and also check whether your details are on the CIFAS database. Ultimately, if this is why you’re being refused, the only real option you’ve got to get some form of transactional account is to get some form of pre-paid account.


Frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find some specific questions that we regularly get about banking and the answers we generally provide. More detailed FAQ’s may be included in the information pages above.

Occasionally, we get reports that people have received letters from their bank, notifying them that they’re closing their account. Often, people think this is because it’s linked to their recent conviction. Sometimes, this may be the case, but it can often be hard to prove. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency in this area, especially given that banks may not always know about convictions. If you think this might have happened to you, our advice would be to ask the bank directly, and ultimately make a complaint. If you don’t get anywhere, you can then make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.


Here you’ll find links to useful organisations and websites related to banking that we refer to in our information and advice. Contact details for the organisations listed below can be found here.


Read personal stories

The personal story below has been posted on theRecord, our online magazine.


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Read and share your experiences of this on our online forum.

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Help us with our policy work on this

Read more about the policy work we’re doing on maintaining access to open a bank account before release from prison.

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