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Retail banks announce asylum seekers can open bank accounts using alternative identification documents

New package of measures to include guide on opening bank accounts for asylum seekers available in several languages and provided to all accommodation centres supported by additional training for frontline staff

13th May 2021 – BPFI and the five retail banks have today announced that asylum seekers and people with refugee status can open bank accounts using alternative documentation, as they may not have a passport or a driving licence,

In tandem with today’s announcement and building on policies already in place, the retail banks are rolling out a package of measures including the publication of a new BPFI guide for asylum seekers and refugees explaining how to open an account and providing examples of the documents that will be accepted. The guide, which will be provided to all accommodation centres, will also be made available in Arabic, French, Somalian, Georgian, Albanian as well as English, in the coming weeks. Additionally, BPFI will roll out a training webinar for members which will support the publication of the guide. This will include the Irish Refugee Council discussing the experience of an asylum seeker and expert bank training to ensure frontline staff can best support applicants when opening a bank account.

Welcoming today’s initiative the Minister of State with special responsibility for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne TD said: “I welcome today’s launch of the Guide to Opening Bank Accounts in Ireland for persons seeking asylum. My Department has been engaged with Banking & Payments Federation Ireland and other stakeholders over the last several months to address concerns around access to bank accounts for international protection applicants in Ireland, particularly in the context of the 2016 EU Payment Accounts Regulations. These Regulations provide for all consumers legally resident in the EU, including people with no fixed address and asylum seekers, to be able to open a payment account without undue difficulty.

This Guide will certainly assist in achieving that objective by providing clear information on how to open an account and by offering reassurance that non-standard documentation, including state issued documents, will be accepted as forms of ID when opening an account. I want to congratulate the BPFI for producing this Guide in collaboration with the Banks and the commitment to supporting their implementation through training for bank staff.”

Also speaking at the launch, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “BPFI members very much welcome asylum seekers and refugees as bank customers and recognise that for those trying to make a new life in Ireland, access to a bank account is vitally important to allow them manage their money efficiently and safely and participate in society. Today’s announcement and launch of our new guide aims to make the process of opening an account as easy as possible for asylum seekers and refugees by outlining step by step how the process works, what to expect and the documents required. Crucially it explains that while banks are required to verify the identify and address of all customers, in line with normal legislative requirements, they will accept alternative forms of state ID documents from asylum seekers and refugees, examples of which are outlined in the guide.”

“Throughout this process we have worked very closely with the Department of Justice and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth and we very much welcome the support of both departments for their support for the launch of this Guide and we look forward to working with all stakeholders on this important issue into the future.”

“BPFI is now working with key advocates, including accommodation centre managers, to ensure the guide reaches as many asylum seekers as possible. It will be provided to all accommodation centres in the coming weeks and will be translated into Arabic, French, Somalian, Georgian and Albanian, “Mr Hayes concluded.

The guide is available to download here.

ENDS/

Notes: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, BPFI, 087 9016880 or jillian.heffernan@bpfi.ie

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