Small-business owners need to separate their business finances from their personal funds. While opening a personal bank account is simple, a bit more effort is required when opening a business bank account. Additional documentation and regulatory requirements must be met before a business checking account can be opened. If you’re asking yourself, “what do I need to open a business bank account?” – we’ve got you covered.
It can be confusing to business owners who are new to this. Before you head into any of the business banks, make sure you take all the necessary documents with you. This will ensure that the process goes smoothly and that you can start doing what you do best quickly. Let’s dive into everything you’ll need to open a business account and how to get set up.
1. Prepare Necessary Documentation
You’ll need to prepare all of the necessary documents before you reach out to the bank. Doing this will ensure that the process goes effortlessly and that you’re not going from pillar to post to collect any of the required documents once you’ve begun the process.
The types of documents you need to submit with your application will vary based on how your business is structured. Certain documents are mandatory regardless of the entity structure. You would typically need to provide the following documents to a bank when opening a business checking or any other type of account.
Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Formation
The articles of incorporation are proof of your business’s legal existence. They’re often referred to as the certificate of formation. It’s issued by the secretary of state in the state where you have incorporated your business.
This document provides information about your business name, address, registered agent, beneficial owners, management structure and the activities it will undertake. Before banks can open your business account, they need to see the articles of incorporation to understand how your business is structured and where it’s legally registered.
Depending on the industry you’re in, you may be required to obtain a business license from a state or other government entity. This permit will allow you to do business in a particular jurisdiction. For example, a business license is required if you’re selling food, alcohol or tobacco.
Banks have strict compliance requirements they must meet. They will not be able to open an account for you if you can’t provide them with a business license that shows you’re legally permitted to conduct business.
Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An EIN is a mandatory document for opening a business bank account. It’s a unique corporate ID that’s issued to entities doing business in the United States. An EIN is used by the IRS and other government departments for identifying businesses and tracking their financial activities for taxation.
You can apply for an EIN directly with the IRS, and it’s typically issued within a few days. Make sure you receive the EIN before you head to the bank, as it won’t process your application for an account without it.
Business Tax Returns
Some banks may also require you to provide business tax returns for the past two years if your business has already been in operation and you require additional services such as a merchant account. Tax returns may not always be required for newly incorporated entities that have yet to start conducting business.
Banks are diligent about risk management, and they may require more assurance about the financial stability of your business before providing services such as a business loan or a business credit card.
If you indicate interest in these products when signing up for a checking or business savings account, chances are that they might ask to see your business plan to understand long-term projections and ascertain your company’s financial health. Take it along with all of the other documents so that it’s readily available should they ask for it.
This is a basic know-your-customer (KYC) requirement for banks. The bank must have a valid form of identification on file for all business owners and authorized signers. A government-issued ID or passport will typically be enough to meet this requirement.
Proof of Address
Proof of address is also a KYC requirement. Banks usually require a rental agreement or a utility bill that’s in the name of the business owner to open a business bank account. Some banks may also ask for a secondary proof of address document.
2. Research Different Types of Business Bank Accounts
Banks provide a variety of options for business owners. You should research several options to find the right bank and option for your business. The terms and documentation may be different for these options so it’s best to do your research so that you can collect all of the required documents.
Consider fees and other charges as well. Most banks will charge an account maintenance fee if the balance falls below a certain threshold every month. There may also be charges for services such as online banking and overdraft protection. Banks often offer signup bonuses as well but these will likely have certain conditions attached to them, such as maintaining a minimum balance for several months.
3. Submit Your Application
Most traditional banks will require you to visit a branch in person to submit your application before you can open a business bank account. This can be difficult, particularly for U.S. business owners based elsewhere in the world. Fortunately, an online bank can be willing to open a business account, which typically takes a couple of days to get up and running.
4. Fund Your Account
Once the account has been opened, all that’s left is to put some money in it. Depending on the bank and the type of account you chose, there may be minimum deposit requirements. The bank will let you know what they are. The first deposit you make into the account must be above that minimum limit.
A monthly minimum balance also may be required or your account may be hit with a maintenance fee. Be sure to ask your bank representative about all of these charges so that you can avoid unnecessary fees.
Opening a Business Bank Account Isn’t Difficult
The entire process might sound daunting to someone who’s doing this for the first time, but it’s not that difficult. As long as you have all of the required documents in order, your business bank account will be up and running in no time.
Don’t forget to conduct your research, look at the various banks and their services to find out which is the best one for you. Provide them with the documents they need and make sure you ask them about any minimum deposit requirements and maintenance fees.
If you’re based outside the United States and don’t have a Social Security number or are a resident business owner who simply wants it all taken care of for you, head over to doola.com for a seamless business bank account setup.
What documents are needed to open a business bank account?
The documents needed to open a business bank account include a form of identity, articles of incorporation, EIN, business license and business tax returns.
How much money do you need to open a business account?
This depends on the bank you choose. Some banks have no minimum deposit requirements while others may ask you to deposit a certain amount the first time.
What is needed to open a business bank account as a sole proprietor?
As a sole proprietor, you need a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number, a business license, an ID and possibly a trade name certificate if you have one to open a business bank account.