The Immigration Act 2014 prohibits banks and building societies from opening current accounts for people who are known not to have leave to remain in or to enter the UK. From 1 January 2018, there have been additional requirements to carry out periodic checks of the immigration status of existing current account customers.
Who does this affect
Banks and building societies that operate current accounts in the UK, including banks that are UK branches of EEA banks and non-EEA banks.
What the Immigration Act does
The Immigration Act 2014 prohibits banks and building societies from opening current accounts for people who are 'disqualified persons'. Banks and building societies are expected to carry out a status check of the individual concerned to ensure they are not a ‘disqualified person’.
The Immigration Act 2014 was amended by the Immigration Act 2016 and the amendments came into force on 30 October 2017. From 1 January 2018 banks and building societies have been required to carry out a quarterly ‘immigration check’ for existing current accounts operated by a disqualified person.
If such an account is identified, the bank or building society must notify the Home Office. The Home Office will then check if the person is a disqualified person and, in certain circumstances, will notify the bank or building society of their duty to close the account as soon as reasonably practicable. The bank or building society is required to inform the Home Office of the resulting action taken through a website operated by the Home Office.
The FCA's role
The Immigration Act 2014 (Bank Accounts) Regulations currently place a duty on the FCA to monitor and enforce compliance with the existing prohibitions.
We consulted on our approach to the amended Immigration Act and regulations, including reporting, monitoring and enforcement in 2017.
A disqualified person is a person who is in the UK, who does not have the required leave to enter or remain in the UK, and whom the Home Secretary considers should not be permitted to open a current account.
Identifying a disqualified person - opening current accounts
To ensure they are complying with the Act, banks and building societies can carry out an immigration ‘status’ check with a specified anti-fraud organisation or data-matching authority.
This can be done before opening a new current account operated by:
- a consumer
- a micro-enterprise, or
- a charity (with an annual income under £1 million)
Where the check identifies that the applicant is a disqualified person, the firm must refuse to open the account.
This prohibition includes:
- opening joint current accounts for any disqualified persons
- opening a current account where the disqualified person is a signatory or is identified as a beneficiary
- adding any disqualified person as a current account holder, signatory or identified beneficiary in relation to an existing current account
Banks and building societies that refuse to open a current account for someone who is disqualified must tell that person the reason for the refusal. This applies as long as doing so does not conflict with their duties under other legislation.
The Home Office has produced information, including a particular form of words, for firms to provide to individuals who are refused an account in those circumstances.
The current prohibition does not apply to existing current accounts unless a new account holder, signatory or identified beneficiary is being added.
Identifying a disqualified person - ongoing checks
From 1 January 2018, banks and building societies have been required to carry out quarterly immigration checks through the specified anti-fraud organisation or data-matching authority.
This immigration check is to be carried out on certain existing current accounts, excluding current accounts operated or held by or for an individual who is acting (with respect to that account) for the purposes of trade, business or profession.
If a current account operated by or for a disqualified person is identified, the bank or building society will be required to notify the Home Office of any accounts held. For these purposes, an “account” includes, but is not limited to, a financial product by means of which a payment may be made, and therefore includes accounts that are not current accounts.
What banks and building societies need to have in place
If you are a firm that operates current accounts, you must:
- Make arrangements to comply with the Immigration Act, including the prohibition in section 40, and from 30 October 2017, the requirements in sections 40A, 40B and 40G.
- Put in place record-keeping procedures relating to your compliance with the Immigration Act. Keep these records for at least 5 years.
- Tell us if you have any problems complying with the Immigration Act by contacting your usual FCA supervisory contact as soon as is reasonably practicable.
- Confirm to us that you are complying with the provisions of the Immigration Act each year. You will need to make arrangements to use form FIN A on RegData.
Notice for firms - 13 May 2022
Attestations of compliance while the Home Office’s nominated system is unavailable.
We are aware that banks and building societies are currently unable to complete the immigration checks required by the Immigration Act. This is because the nominated system used to complete the relevant checks is unavailable while the Home Office switches provider.
While this is the case, if you are a bank or building society that operates current accounts, you should complete form FIN-A as follows:
- Attest ‘Yes’ – if you have been unaffected and have been able to complete all the relevant checks in your full reporting period.
- Attest ‘No’ – if you have not been able to complete all the relevant checks in your full reporting cycle, including due to the system being unavailable.
If you are unable to complete immigration checks because the system is unavailable, you do not need to take any additional action to tell us and we will not take supervisory or enforcement action against you.
Firms should note that this applies only to compliance with the Immigration Act.
Firms still need to follow other Identity and Verification and Know Your Customer processes.
Find out more
- The legislative requirements are contained in the Immigration Act 2014 and subsequent Regulations, and not in our Handbook:
- The new legislation, the Immigration Act 2016:
- Contact CIFAS on [email protected]
- FCA’s reporting requirements in the Supervision Manual, 16.19
- FCA Feedback statement in Handbook Notice 17
- FCA's March 2017 Quarterly Consultation No.16
- Contact your trade association
- Information for consumers on opening a bank account.
- Information for consumers whose current account is closed or refused based on immigration status
We would encourage you first to use the whistleblowing procedures in your workplace.
If there aren't any or if you don't feel able to do so, then you can ring the FCA Whistleblowing Team:
- 020 7066 9200 during office hours or
- leave a message on voicemail and, if you wish, we will ring you back
- email us at [email protected]
- write to us at:
Intelligence Department (Ref PIDA)
Financial Conduct Authority
12 Endeavour Square
London E20 1JN