How to Verify Proof of Address in 2024? Here’s the Complete Guide

How exactly does the proof of address process look like? Our step-by-step guide will answer all questions related to Address Verification.

Proof of address (PoA) has a vital role in identity verification. Companies request proof of address documents as part of the due diligence procedure and verification obligations regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance. Typically, a customer verifies their identity by taking a photo of their ID document.

Despite that, there are cases when businesses are obliged to dig deeper and ask their clients to provide proof of address information. This is where the challenges begin. So, what documents are accepted as proof of address, and when is it mandatory to proceed with PoA check?

Keep on reading to find out.

What is Proof of Address?

Proof of Address (PoA) is a document that companies use to verify a person’s residential address. Due to Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML requirements, regulated entities, like bans and crypto platforms, are required to ask the users to upload their proof of address during the onboarding process

In simple words, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Proof of address proves that the customer who provided the document lives in the registered location. For instance, financial institutions ask clients to verify their identity and provide proof of address if they want to open a bank account. That’s why PoA measures keep customers’ funds and identities safe. 

Once proof of address documents, such as bank statements or utility bills, are collected, they require manual or semi-manual review. This way, businesses that fall under AML regulations can prevent restricted residents from accessing their services more efficiently – all thanks to Address Verification

Use Cases of Proof of Address Verification

As part of the compliance process specified by AML laws, customers must provide PoA documents as evidence to prove their residential address when:

  • Performing transactions. In cases when customers exceed a specified threshold, which is determined by AML obligations.
  • Registering for financial services. During the onboarding process, the client can be asked to provide an extra proof of address document as part of the AML compliance process. 
  • Restricting account openings. There are regional compliance requirements that determine restrictions for customers living in high-risk regional areas and countries. Checking their proof of address ensures compliance and prevents fraud.

Additionally, there are other benefits to proof of address verification. Finding out where a person lives helps when a company wants to send physical documents, especially in legally challenging situations. For example, when the bank is obliged to contact the customer physically.

How Does Proof of Address Work?

Common proof of address processes work by implementing optical character recognition (OCR) into their systems. This technology enables accurate and fully automated address data collection, extraction and verification. Often, the user’s PoA document is compared with their government-issued ID or personal details in the database or another reputable source, like their utility service provider. 

If the data matches, the system then confirms that the address is genuine and that the user actually resides there. However, partial matches are also common. Sometimes, they require conducting manual checks or asking the user to submit additional info if certain address details are missing.

Examples of Valid Proof of Address Documents

Proof of address practices can differ, and each company has specific requirements. The most common examples of proof of address include:

  • Utility bills (electricity, water, gas, etc.)
  • Tax bills
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • House purchase deeds
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Employment letters

Keep in mind that most organizations will not accept bank statements or utility bills that are not older than 3 months, as it is the general period for relevance.

Statements can be accepted from credit unions, building societies, and banks. Credit card statements are typically considered valid proof of address documents if they are recent.

Other documents also have address verification data specified. They can be accepted as alternative proof of address documents:

  • ID card
  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Residence permit
  • Social security card

Some key facts to remember about PoA:

Bear in mind that some jurisdictions do not allow using the same document for both identity and address verification.

Most PoA documents (ID cards, passports, or driving licenses) hold address data. Despite that, there are some exceptions.

Persons younger than 18 must provide a valid proof of address document in their parent’s name.

Receipts, invoices, pension statements, documents without dates, handwritten letters or documents do not count as PoA

How Can You Verify Proof of Address Manually?

Specialists typically review all submitted proof of address documents manually to ensure accuracy. But it’s not as easy as it sounds since fraudsters tend to forge PoA documents, especially if they don’t have security markings.

Here’s a standard example of reviewing a proof of address document:

  • Step one. Inspect the PoA document’s issuing date and check if it’s valid. 
  • Step two. Check if the document contains the person’s name and surname. 
  • Step three. Look for common fraud patterns to detect fraudulent alterations. For more details, check our guide on how to spot fake documents.
  • Step four. This is the most important part. Carefully examine the document’s address and authenticate its legitimacy using a search engine. If the client doesn’t provide full address data on their PoA document, they must specify it to complete their address.
Example of a failed PoA: apartment building with no unit number provided

iDenfy’s Automated Proof of Address Solutions

As technology evolves, new services come into the market. Proof of address isn’t an exception. To speed up onboarding and simplify compliance, modern businesses tend to switch from complicated manual proof of address methods to swift automated Address Verification services. 

So how does iDenfy verify proof of address? We explain it below.

1. Automated Address Verification

iDenfy’s in-house experts manually extract the address information from the identity document.

Here’s what the Address Verification flow looks like:

  • The client uploads the document.
  • iDenfy’s specialist manually extracts the address.
  • The specialist compares the address with the partner’s provided address via API.

As the fourth step in the proof of address verification, our team can perform an additional Address Lookup procedure to validate the authenticity of the address. 

There are four possible Address Lookup outcomes: VERIFIED – AMBIGUOUS – PARTIAL – NONE.

As an optional step, iDenfy’s specialists can cross-check the address across databases to identify if the address is legitimate. 

Infographic of four address lookup outcomes: verified, ambiguous (more than one address found), partially correct, none.

2. Direct Utility Provider Data Comparison

With the endless capabilities that technology brings us today, you can fake any proof of address document. To combat crime and prevent the misuse of fraudulent, photoshopped documents, iDenfy created a unique feature for proof of address verification.

To maximize security, you can customize the Address Verification flow and ask the user to connect to their utility provider. After the user connects to their utility provider, iDenfy’s team checks the document to ensure that it exists and captures their residential address. 

3. Utility Bill Verification

This feature is particularly designed for smoother and faster utility bill verification, taking 20 seconds on average to approve the user’s address.  With easy API integration, companies can avoid complex coding and quickly get AI-generated utility bill responses without needing to deal with complicated parameters.

The utility bill verification enables you to:

  1. Verify the user’s full name. This means collecting, extracting, and verifying personal information.
  2. Check the user’s address legitimacy. This includes different languages, symbols, and their comparison, ensuring accurate address data comparison and approval. 
  3. Complete the PoA check. The final step means that you verify and confirm that the document isn’t older than three months. In this case, the selected utility bill is valid and can be accepted as a PoA document.

What’s more, this feature can be easily adjusted and added to your standard KYC flow, depending on the user’s risk profile. This is beneficial for use cases like:

  • When you need extra address verification checks. This depends on the user’s profile and your operating industry. Our system can redirect the user to a new window where they’re asked to upload their proof of address (image or PDF), and you can merge the received results with the user’s general onboarding data. 
  • When you need to reverify existing users. This can be done in higher-risk scenarios when the user hasn’t been on their account for a longer period of time or before a large, atypical transaction. 
  • When you want to improve your fraud prevention system. This can be done depending on your internal risk assessment. For example, you might need to add transaction limits and request additional utility bill checks after the user has reached a certain transaction threshold. 

Don’t hesitate. Book a free demo to get a hands-on experience with our address and utility bill verification tool.

This blog post was updated on the 11th of July, 2024, to reflect the latest insights.

Frequently asked questions


Why is Proof of Address Important?


Proof of address is important because it is a regulatory requirement in many industries. Companies collect address information to stay in line with KYC/AML rules, as well as to build a robust customer identification program (CIP). It’s also crucial for organizations with location-based constraints, such as cryptocurrency platforms. Other platforms, such as e-commerce, use PoA checks to minimize unauthorized purchases and account takeovers


What Proof of Address Document Type is the Most Common?


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