Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Please, Sir....

I've been trying to be a little smarter about where I put my money. That is, taking it out of a NatWest savings account that pays something like 0.01% interest and seeking to put it into tax free savings (called ISAs) or higher rate savings accounts.

As most of these accounts tend to be operated either online or by post rather than in person, documentation of your identify and residence is required. Photocopies of suitable documents are acceptable, but only if they have been 'certified'.

Notary publics are not used here in England. In fact I had to drive to Hexham and pay a lawyer a whopping £120 to get him to affix a seal to my signature when I sold one of my houses in Oklahoma City. I still remember his greasy smile as I wrote out the check, feeling I was being pillaged, but without any recourse or alternative.

Instead, a copy of any of the following documents is acceptable as proof of name:

Current signed passport
Current UK driving licence
Blue disabled driver's pass
Benefits book or original notification letter from Benefits Agency confirming the right to benefit
Pension book (less than 6 months old)
Shotgun or firearms certificate
HM Revenue & Customs tax notification in respect of this current tax year or from the previous tax year
Employee identify card with photo and siganture from a well-known business
Birth certificate or medical card -- but only for applicants under 18

For proof of address:

Recent utility bill - within 3 months (excluding mobile phone bills)
Local authority tax bill (valid for the current year)
Current UK driving licence, if not used as proof of name
Bank, building society or credit card statement containing current address (issued or dated within 3 months)
Recent mortgage statement from a recognised lender (less than 6 months old)
Current tenancy agreement
Current Housing Association rent book
Solicitor's letter confirming recent house purchase and previous address

I don't mind producing appropriate documents. The part that gets me is

Certificed copies should be signed, dated, marked 'original seen' and bear the name, address and occupation of the certifier. Copies can be certified by a UK lawyer, banker, accountant, teacher, doctor, minister of religion, postmaster/sub-postmaster, authorised financial intermediary or similar professional.

I can't tell you how much I resent this, as though someone who has been to medical school or had teacher training is therefore more honest and upstanding than I. Bill says it is a little like having to go up to the Big House to the ask the Master to vouch for you. I wonder if Britain will ever enter the 21st Century?

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