I’ll confess, the first time I ever felt a sense of maturity or that adulthood had just begun was when I went to open a new bank account for myself. It was a normal savings account and my parents used to give me pocket money and it was up to me to decide whether I wanted to deposit it or not. That’s when I learnt the basic intricacies of banking.
Taking one step back, when I went to the bank to open a new bank account, I remember filling up some forms with all my details, which were followed by submitting self-attested copies of my id proof, PAN card and other documents. Today, the entire hassle of going to the bank, writing out all your details and signing documents has all been done away with and can now be done on our mobiles with just a few taps.
But to open a new bank account online, some documents are mandatory without which you cannot open one. But, there is an exception to this under special circumstances. Let’s find out.
Here’s a refresher on the current offline process in case you weren’t aware
Step 1 - Visit the official website of the financial institution or download the mobile app.
Step 2 - Select the account you want to open (Savings account, current account etc.)
Step 3 - Upload all your KYC documents in the sections provided
Step 4 - Cross check all your details and click on the “Submit” button
Step 5 - Once the bank approves your details, you will receive an email confirming the opening of your account
Given that you can’t open a new bank account online or offline without KYC documents, there are certain exceptions to this rule. The RBI issued a circular in 2014 addressing these concerns.
For those who do not have official documents can open small accounts. These accounts can be opened on the basis of self-attested photographs and the signature of the holder in the presence of a bank official. But such accounts come with limitations. The account will be valid for 12 months and can be extended for another 12 months only if the account holder can prove that they have applied for official documents within 12 months from the date of opening the small account.
Official documents need not be required if the bank categorises the customer as a low-risk customer to open an account. The following document needs to be furnished at the time of opening.
a. ID card with applicant's photo issued by central/state government, PSU, scheduled commercial banks, public financial institutions and statutory/regulatory authorities
b. Letter issued by a gazetted officer with the attested photo of the person
c. KYC verification of members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) is not required while opening an account of the SHG and only the KYC documents of the SHG official are needed.
Though the KYC documents criteria are relaxed in the case of small accounts, it comes with certain limitations
The RBI has made the process of updating KYC with banks a lot easier especially during the course of the pandemic when visiting a branch was next to impossible
While it is possible to open accounts without KYC documents, these are very rare exceptions that we come across and are more or less converted to a full savings account in due course. In fact, the process to open a new bank account without KYC is more cumbersome. With the facilities and systems in place, It’s better to get your KYC documents done before you open a new bank account online.
In short, yes. You can open a new bank account without any KYC under the following conditions
These accounts can be opened on the basis of self-attested photographs and the signature of the holder in the presence of a bank official. However, they do come with limitations.
Official documents need not be required if the bank categorises the customer as a low-risk customer to open an account. An attested photo of the account holder and approval of a gazetted officer is required
As far as offline banking is concerned, you will have to approach the branch and inform the bank officials about your requirement to open a bank account without any documents. Only under special circumstances and valid reasons will you be allowed to open an account with the condition that you apply for the official documents and produce them in due course. In case of online banking, you will have to get in touch with customer service and inform the officials that you don’t have any documents and on getting a special approval will you be allowed to open an account.