What do I need to open a business bank account?

Opening up a small business bank account can seem like a daunting task — and to some extent, it is more challenging than opening a personal bank account because you’ll have to provide additional details about your business. But there are many ways that a bank account can help your business, so it’s worth the added effort.

The good news: Most financial institutions require the same general documents for each type of business. For example, if you have an LLC, they’ll likely request a copy of the documents you filed with the state to form the LLCs.

The bad news: A lot of the laws that govern how you set up and run your business are unique to your state and local government. That means the exact documents you’ll need will vary from state to state. Your business may also have characteristics (for example, a DBA name, also known as a trade name or fictitious name) that require additional documents.

illustrated checklist

What documents will I need for my business?

To keep it simple, we’ll go over the documents your bank might ask for when you apply for a business account. We’ll be breaking it down by business type, but first, a note on a couple of documents that might be required for more than one type of business:

  1. A DBA (“doing business as”) document. If you do business under a name other than the legal business name, you may need to provide a document showing that your DBA name has been properly registered. DBAs are especially popular with sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Some states require that you register the name with your state, county, or local government, while others don’t. Learn more about the requirements in your state.
  2. An EIN document from the IRS. If you are a sole proprietor or you have a single-member LLC, you aren’t required to have an EIN unless you hire employees. You do have the option of getting one, however, from the IRS. If you have a different business type, however (corporation, partnership, or LLC with multiple members), you will need an EIN. You can apply for an EIN in just a few minutes online; when you get your EIN, be sure to save the EIN assignment document from the IRS.

Document requirements by business type

To open an account for your sole proprietorship

  • EIN document (optional, depending on your business)
  • DBA document (optional, depending on your business)

Opening an account for your sole proprietorships is a lot like opening a personal bank account. Your bank will ask for your Social Security number and other personal information.

Since the legal name for a sole proprietorship is your personal name, you may want to use a “Doing business as” name. If you do, and your state requires that you register a DBA, you’ll likely need a copy of your DBA document.

If you have an EIN, you may also need to provide your EIN document from the IRS.

To open an account for your general partnership

  • EIN Document
  • DBA document (optional, depending on your business)
  • Partnership agreement (this requirement may vary from bank to bank)

General partnerships and sole proprietorships have similar documentation requirements. The main difference is that for a sole proprietorship, you aren’t required to have an EIN and you can simply use your Social Security number. With a partnership, you’re required to have an EIN and you may need to provide an EIN document.

Also, you use a “Doing business as” name for your partnership, your state might require you to register the DBA. If they do, you will need a copy of your DBA registration document.

Finally, some banks will ask for a partnership agreement. This is a document that sets out the terms of the relationship between the partners. It covers things like how much each partner is contributing to the business, the responsibilities of the partners, allocation of authority, use of business assets, what happens when a partner dies, etc. Having these issues worked out in advance provides greater security to the partners — and to outside parties, such as lenders.

To open an account for your LLC

  • Articles of Organization
  • EIN document (optional, depending on your business)
  • Operating agreement (this requirement may vary from bank to bank)

Your Articles of Organization (some states may call this a Certificate of Organization or Certificate of Formation) is a document that includes basic information such as the LLC name, address, registered agent, and the initial members or organizers. You can typically file this document online. Your financial institution will want to see an official copy that is file-marked by the Secretary of State, which may also include a certificate of authenticity.

If your LLC has only one member, you aren’t required to have an EIN (though you can get one if you’d like). If your business has multiple members, however, you are required to have an EIN and your bank may ask for your EIN document from the IRS.

Finally, some banks may also ask for your operating agreement. This is a governing document that sets out the obligations, duties, rights, and roles of the members. Having a good operating agreement can prevent a lot of headaches, so it’s worth making sure this is done right. If you engage an attorney to help form your LLC, he or she will generally help you prepare an operating agreement as well

To open an account for your corporation

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • EIN document
  • Corporate Bylaws (optional, depends on your bank’s requirements)

Your Articles of Incorporation (also called a Certificate of Incorporation) in some states) are the documents you filed with the Secretary of State to form your corporation. You can typically file this document online. Requirements vary from state to state, so it’s usually a good idea to consult with an attorney before filing your Articles. Your financial institution will want to see an official copy that is file-marked by the Secretary of State, which may also include a certificate of authenticity.

You’ll also need a copy of your EIN document from the IRS.

Finally, some banks may ask you to provide your corporate bylaws. This is the governing document for your business; your corporate bylaws will detail the purpose, name, location, and ownership of the business and generally cover all the formalities of forming, operating, and dissolving your corporation.

Do I need different documents to open an account for a C-corporation vs. an S-corporation?

Generally not. Your bank may ask whether your business is a C-corporation or an S-corporation, but they usually won’t ask for different documents based on your answer.


Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.


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