How To Guide On Identity Verification For Property Purchase

Red Check Mark on Box in Close Up View

If you’re purchasing property in the UK, you probably already know that you’re going to be required to provide lots of documentation to make sure the sale of your home can go through. Among that documentation are materials that will help to verify your identification. Identity checks are common at several stages of the property buying process, and understanding how they work, what you’ll be expected to provide, and what you can provide instead of that documentation is an absolute necessity if you’re preparing to buy a home.

How An Identity Check Works When Buying Property

When you begin the property buying process, you will be asked to verify your identity the moment you’re ready to make a bid on a home. For a UK resident, the right ID form means many options. Whatever you choose, though, you will need to provide the original form, not just a copy. A current, signed passport will usually suffice to help verify your identity. So will a current UK or EEA photo-card driving license. Likewise, a full or provisional photo driving license will work. If you are currently on benefits, you can provide your benefits book as proof of your identity. You can also provide your original notification letter from the benefits agency as proof of your ID. If you have an entry in a local or national telephone directory, that will usually help verify your identity. You could also use a building industry sub-contractor certificate or, if you have a CISA photo registration card, you are entitled to use that as well. If you have obtained your firearms certificate from Chief Constable, that is acceptable as well. In most cases, a Freedom Pass will work as will a P60 or P45. An Inland Revenue coding notice works too. Any police or government department ID card will work, as will a residency permit or even a Home Office alien registration card. A UK armed services ID card works too.

In addition to your proof of ID, you will also need to provide proof of your address, and many different documents will work for this, but it can’t be the same document you used to confirm your identity. You can use a Bank or Building Society statement or passbook. Your Benefits book can be used here, too. You can use a Child Support Agency letter. Another good option is to use a Council Tax bill. Your driving license will work, as will an EEA Member State identity card. Your electoral register will work too, as will an Inland Revenue Self-Assessment Statement. Additionally, you can use a Land Registry confirmation of address, a mortgage statement, a current utility bill, or a record of a home visit. If you have known and worked with your solicitor for more than two years, you can also get a signed note from him or her.

Why An ID Check Is Even Required

Why do so many people have to check your ID along the way to your property purchase? In 2007, a new Money Laundering Regulation was passed, and that legislation now means many different parties have to verify your ID along the way. This is because purchasing property used to be a fairly common way organised criminals would launder their money to help ensure no trace of it could ever be found. Thanks to the overall size of the UK property market and the number of incredibly high-value property assets involved in that market, criminals routinely used it to “clean” their funds in a matter of minutes, and it could be done completely legally.

Once the legislation went through, much of that has now changed. These days, estate agents, mortgage lenders, and conveyancers will all ask for proof of ID and even proof of funds. Don’t worry – this has nothing to do with you. Instead, all of these parties are legally required to verify your identity. They can be fined or imprisoned if they don’t routinely do this with every single client they have.

What You Can Do If You Don’t Have The Right Documentation

Even though every property purchasing company involved with the process of helping you buy a home must check your ID there are going to be times when you simply can’t provide that identification. If you’re asking yourself “Who can verify my identity?” you’re not long. A lot of people have trouble with this step.

Your first best option is to use a search engine and type in the terms “solicitor identity verification near me.” That will help put you in touch with either someone who can confirm identity for you or at least someone who can help you better understand what you need to make that happen. Keep in mind that you may have no photo ID for the solicitor in question, but just make it clear that the problem you want to speak to them about is one dealing with identity verification, and they will be happy to help you. How much do solicitors charge to verify ID? It depends a bit on the services they provide and your unique situation. The average cost for a solicitor to verify ID is £150 or less.

Under the HMRC Mortgage Verification Scheme, though, if they can’t verify your identity, HMRC won’t let you purchase a property. Fortunately, though, they can usually guide you in the right direction so that you can eventually find the documentation you need to have your identity verified and move forward with the property purchase itself.

If everything fails, however, and they cannot verify your identity, you will not be allowed to purchase a property in the UK because the legislation around identity checks is incredibly strict, and all of the professionals involved must do their best to verify an individual’s identity before the property can be purchased.

ID Checks May Soon Get Easier

There’s good news on the horizon, though. ID checks are about to get far easier than they ever have been. Because so many people are frustrated with the process of having to continually provide their IDs in this process, the government now has plans to make some forms of virtual ID possible for some stages of the process. This idea originally got started when HM Land Registry introduced a digital ID standard for solicitors who were confirming their client’s identities using biometric and cryptographic checks, and this new power could help to speed things up for almost everyone involved.

The new process will be overseen by the Office for Digital Identities and Attributes, and the goal is to make sure that this method of processing identities becomes the norm in as many situations as possible. It also means that once the proof of ID is verified, it will only have to happen once. That, however, is a bit further down the road than many would like.

Naturally, there are several benefits should the government choose to begin verifying identities this way. Speed is the biggest one. A digital identity can be checked in just a matter of minutes. The old way of doing things, though, meant manual documentation processing, and that could take weeks at a time. What’s more, though, is that this process can happen almost anywhere, and that can be an incredible relief for individuals who struggle to attend the various parts of the process in person, like those who are ill or those who are travelling or live a great distance away.

Value, though, is another real benefit of this process. If clients and those other parties involved like estate agents and conveyancers can save time with the identity verification process, the actual conveyancing process can start far sooner, and that means that clients get more value for their money.

This also makes the entire process far more secure. Because digital identity standards use so many different technologies, it’s easier to catch people who might be gaming the system and hoping that they can fool the individuals who are checking their identity.

Naturally, there is some risk involved. The number of problems might be seriously reduced, but it also means that all of the information that must work its way through the system has to be encrypted and stored digitally, and that means that the information itself could be obtained if it weren’t stored securely enough.

The introduction of digital ID checks could be really powerful to the home-buying market, as it may really help speed things up, and currently, the government is working to make that process as safe as possible.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to make a home purchase, but you’re not quite sure how to get your identity verified in the process either because you don’t know what documents you need to unpack and gather or because you’re not sure you even have access to the specified document, don’t worry. Typically, it’s just a matter of contacting your solicitor to learn more about what you can provide and how he or she can help you get the information you need so that you can proceed with the purchase of a home. A single phone call to a solicitor’s office near you will often put you in touch with the information you need to pass all of the identification checks in purchasing the home of your dreams.

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