Proof of Address Guide: Why Is It Necessary and When Is It Mandatory

Although the legitimacy of the proof of address document is often vaguely defined it is still one of the basic requirements for KYC/AML checks

When a user wants to create an account or make a transaction, in order to get verified they need to submit two most commonly asked documents—proof of identity and proof of address (PoA). Companies request these to establish one’s identity and to comply with the demands of local or global regulations.

However, it is not as easy as it might sound. Over the years, proof of residency falsification has become a serious issue. The document can be easily altered and there are multiple occasions when a temporary address was submitted to imitate the permanent one.

To put doubts to bed, let’s see what documents can and can’t be accepted as proof of address.

What documents count as proof of address

Depending on a particular type of institution or the jurisdiction it is located in, there might be a slight change as to what a company will choose to accept as a document proving residency. 

Common proof of residency examples

First, we want to look at some of the most common examples an organization can accept as a valid proof of address.

  • Bank statement with the date of issue and the name of the person (the document must be not older than 3 months);
  • Utility bill for gas, electricity, water, internet, etc. linked to the property (the document must not be older than 3 months);
  • Lease agreement that is current and has the signatures of the landlord and the tenant;
  • Credit card statement;
  • Letter from a recognized public authority or public servant (any government-issued correspondence not older than 3 months);
  • Employer’s certificate for residence proof;
  • House purchase deed.

Banks, asset management companies, insurers, and other financial companies will probably make a request for one of these. However, there are some more options to be aware about. 

Alternative proof of residency examples

These are the documents that can be accepted as a valid proof of address only if there is the address mentioned on them.

  • Passport;
  • Identity card;
  • Driving license.

Remember that the same document can’t be used to confirm both the user’s identity and the place of residence. By law, if one of the ID documents has an address on it, another supportive document will be required at the identity check stage.

What documents don’t count as proof of address

Some documents are not enough to assure that the address stated by the person is indeed what they say it is.

  • Old government-issued correspondence (older than 3 months);
  • Old bank statement (older than 3 months);
  • Old utility bill linked to the property (older than 3 months);
  • Pension statement;
  • Bank reference;
  • Insurance policy;
  • Transfer receipt.

It is important to gather these documents accurately. Failure to do so might give room for fraud and invite regulatory attention followed by relevant penalties.

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When does one need to request a proof of address

From our experience, it is almost always compulsory to submit a valid proof of address to go through a verification process as stated in most of the jurisdictional laws. At the same time, such requirements are largely outdated as the documents can be easily faked and people are changing their places of residency more and more frequently.

For the mentioned reason, some countries like Hong Kong don’t have proof of residency in their requirements. We believe that all regulations will eventually adopt this practice, although it will take some time.

How to check PoA

First of all, every company that performs proof of address check has to have a comprehensive guide that describes the process and requirements for the user.

If there is no possibility to conduct an automated check, there are a few necessary steps to manually verify the documents proving residency:

  1. Accurately inspect the document for watermarks, security features, common patterns of graphics editing;
  2. Check if the document is of valid issue date (no older than 3 months for bank statements, utility bills, government-issued correspondence);
  3. Make sure that the document has the person’s name on it;
  4. Check if the document has the address (the more specific the better) and confirm it’s existence through a search engine such as Google or Naver. If the applicant submits the address without the apartment number while living in a block of flats, the compliance officer must request them to specify the flat as well.

1000+ businesses and 10 000 000 users trust Sumsub and benefit from the one gate KYC/AML solution. Learn more about our approach here. 

Frequently Asked Questions about proof of address

Which documents count as proof of address?

A bank statement, a utility bill or a lease agreement, to name a few.

What can I use as a proof of address?

You can use any official document where your address is stated. It could be a bank statement, a utility bill or even a passport, if it contains your address.

How can I provide my proof of address?

To provide a proof of address, you need an official document in which the address is stated (a lease agreement, a bank statement, etc.)

Where can I learn about proof of address?

Please read Sumsub's comprehensive guide to learn about proof of address documents and to understand when the checking of those documents is mandatory.

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Proof of Address Guide: Why Is It Necessary and When Is It Mandatory

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