Utility bills are the gold standard worldwide for verifying the identity and residency of a customer. Banks, credit unions, and financial institutions have been using utility bills since forever to reduce the chances of fraud. But there are instances where a customer who’s trying to sign up for a new service or solution can’t provide utility bills to verify their residency. Does that mean that the person can’t open a bank account or sign up for any other service?
While interviewing for a new job, applying for a mortgage, or signing up for a financial service, verifying the address is crucial. Just showing your Identity card won’t do the trick. Most of the time, those who don’t have a utility bill, rely on driving licenses as proof of residency. However, driving licenses are highly inaccurate when it comes to proof of address verification.
If you don’t have access to utility bills there are other methods to prove your residency. Sometimes, a combination of a license, tax documents, bank statements, home ownership/rental documents, etc, work in your favor. A valid document should have your name and address on it.
What Makes You A Resident?
In most cases, just proving that you live in a certain area qualifies you as a resident. In other cases, you may have to meet some requirements to become a resident. Most colleges in the USA require the students to prove that they’ve lived in the states for at least a year. Each institution has its own set of rules and regulations for providing proof of residency.
How can You Establish a Residency in a New State?
If you’ve recently moved to a new state, it’s vital to establish residency quickly. But what makes a person a resident? Most states in the USA ask you to pay taxes for more than 6 months in a state. You should also have a primary place of living.
Different states have their own rules that you have to follow to become a resident. Some states have a Declaration of Domicile that you have to fill, after that, you’ll be provided with a certain time period to get a new driver’s license.
If you have a vehicle, you must get it registered to the new state. Also, you should register to vote in the new state. It’s also crucial to file your taxes in the new state or to open a new bank account.
What Happens if You Don’t Have Any Utility Bills?
Utility bills are the most commonly accepted document to verify proof of address. There are situations where you may not get utility bills at all. Let’s say that you live with your parents, or rent an apartment that includes utilities in the monthly rent.
Let’s say you wanted to do your part for the world and you went completely paperless. If you pay your bills online, then you should know that most places don’t accept printouts of online bills. If you wish to establish your residency as quickly as possible, the above-mentioned situation may not be ideal for you.
When Do You Need to Prove Residency?
Different situations lead to proof of address verification. Each state is free to make its own set of rules for verifying residency. Although, most places want some kind of paper trail for verification. Some common situations where you may need to prove your residency are:
- Applying for a new job
- Getting a new driver’s license, driver’s permit, or ID card\
- Applying for a loan
- Setting up utilities in a new home
- Applying for a college (residency proof is needed so you can avoid ‘out of state’ tuition fees)
- Registering your children for public schools
- Signing up for specific financial services
In a lot of cases, your photo ID with address may be all you need. In other situations, you’ll need a secondary form of proof for residency verification.
How to Prove Residency Without Utility Bills?
Fortunately for those who don’t have utility bills, there are other ways to prove residency. You need to check your list of acceptable verification documents for different organizations. Let’s keep a driver’s license out of the list of documents that can be used to prove residency.
- Financial Paperwork
Most of the financial papers such as credit card statements, bank statements, and tax-related documents can be used as proof of residency. The simple solution is to print out a PDF from your computer, but most institutions don’t accept printouts. You’ll need to get physical original documents.
Doing so is pretty easy and simple too, visit your bank’s local branch and ask for a printed statement. It’s a good idea to let them know what you need the document for. If you have the time, you can call your credit card provider and ask them to send you a copy of this month’s statement. You can also cancel your online credit statements, this way you’ll get monthly credit statements in the mail.
You can use your W-2s or use copies of your federal/state income taxes. These documents contain both your name and your address. If you don’t have a copy of these documents, your employer will. If your employer fails to provide you with the document, you can contact the IRS and ask for a ‘wage and income transcript’. The transcript won’t have state or local information but it will have the name and address.
If you are willing to pay money for a document that can prove your residency, you can ask for a copy of W-2s from your social security administrator.
- Court or Government Issued Documents
Any document from an official county, city, state, or any other government agency that includes your name and address can be used. These documents can be marital records, documents from social security, and even letters from DMV.
If you haven’t already done it, then visit a post office and fill out a “change-of-address form”. The US postal service will send you physical mail which contains your new name and address. Whatever you’re trying to sign up with, make sure they accept this mail as a valid document.
- Register to Vote
If your voter registration card has your address, it can be used as a proof of address document. If you’ve recently moved to a new city, register to vote with your new address. When you receive your new card, if it contains an address, you can use it as a proof of address verification document. If it doesn’t contain the address, you can use the envelope the document came in.
- House-Related Paperwork
Most homeowner declaration pages or correspondence from your homeowner’s insurance company can be used to prove residency. Other insurance documents like flood insurance or other home protection documents can be used as proof of residency. If you have a mortgage, then you can use a copy of your mortgage. Similarly, you can use a copy of the rental/tenant’s agreement.
If you live with someone else, you can get a residency affidavit form made and the person you live with can complete the documentation. A lot of government agencies and financial institutions may accept these documents. If they don’t, they usually have their forms that help in proving residency.