· About 2 minutes read

Navigating Convoluted Bureaucracy

I just spent a fair chunk of time trying to open a bank account in England. So far, no success - but I think I'm starting to understand the rules:

  1. You must have a bank account to open a bank account.
  2. You must have a permanent address to open a bank account.
  3. A permanent address is only provable as permanent if you have utilities bills or council tax statements.
  4. Corporate apartments do not issue utilities bills or council tax statements.
  5. You must have a bank account to rent an apartment.
  6. You must have a UK ID card to prove your identity.
  7. If you have no UK ID card, a passport will work, but it will take longer.

I think that's it. If there are any further rules, they were not made known to me during my conversations this morning.

Rules of this sort are there for good reason... in theory. It's all done to try and make fraud harder. If a person isn't real, they can't do banking. Right? Fair enough.

But when people are designing these processes, it would be really nice if they checked their assumptions. Among the assumptions here are that everybody is British, lives in Britain and has done so for a long time. This means that new people attempting to bootstrap into the country are screwed unless they manage to navigate this convoluted bureaucracy.

It seems like the correct way to do this is something like this:

  1. Extract cash from your foreign bank account via ATM to pay rent.
  2. Get utilities put in your name on the basis of your address.
  3. Wait a month.
  4. Take utilities bills to bank. Take your passport with you.
  5. Hope that you don't get declined on the basis of having no credit history.

All of this of course assumes that you will be able to find somebody willing to rent an apartment to somebody who doesn't have a UK bank account. If you can't, you're screwed.

Sometimes I get the impression that the EDL has already won. British bureaucracy, both the state and the corporate bureaucratic elements - much like the bureaucracy in most nation states I've encountered - is nationalistic and xenophobic.