The sign up process will be VERY easy to do - and to become a verified user. You will need to provide personal information - and verify it to be able to buy Bitcoin from Coinbase.
Eventually you will be confirming your e-mail address and Bank Account information. Yes - real bank relationships are what are required - if you use your checking account for example - verification happens when you make or confirm or small deposit made to your account.
The entire verification process can take under 15 minutes - or a bit more in periods of massive sign up. And, we are in such a period in 2017....but you will need to show some patience - it will still take you some time to get Bitcoin into your account - even after you are verified.
The reason for this is - once you buy Bitcoin - with your linked bank account - it can take four days to a week before the Bitcoin is deposited into your account. That said, when you sign up you immediately have a Bitcoin wallet - so - a friend could immediately send Bitcoin to you if you choose to do so. But, buying it with your own cash - will take a few days. Normally you will get a message after you buy Bitcoin from Coinbase that says when you can expect the Bitcoin to be deposited into your account.