5 Items You Must Have to Open a Business Bank Account
It doesn't have to be complicated -- here's what you need to know.
It can be tempting to try to find a way around getting a separate business bank account. This is especially true if you're a sole proprietor and your business and your identities are already deeply entwined.
But a dedicated business banking account is one of the best tools for ensuring that your company's finances run smoothly. This kind of account makes keeping track of expenses and deposits for taxes and other purposes straightforward. In larger business formations with multiple owners or executives, it provides security and documentation, protecting your company from unauthorized transactions and theft.
Starting a business bank account is not as daunting and convoluted as it may seem to someone who has never done it before. But it does require special documentation that a regular account would not. Get your information and documents together before setting off for the bank and make sure everyone involved in the process is informed and included.
To start your account without any delays, here are five things you absolutely must have.
1. Your team
If you choose to open your business banking account in person, you'll need to bring along all owners, partners and key executives involved in making banking decisions for your business. Anyone who will be expected to manage and control the account should be present. While opening an account online can be more convenient in some ways, bringing your team together to meet the officials who will be handling your banking transactions can impress upon everyone — including bank officials — how serious and important this is for your company's success and financial integrity.
2. Your taxpayer identification numbers
You should provide a taxpayer identification number for the business and the individuals opening the account. In the case of your team members (or if you are a sole proprietor), this will mean supplying their social security numbers. Connecting your personal information to the account increases security by providing another way for the bank to confirm that only authorized company representatives are managing your money.
3. Two forms of personal identification
One piece of identification from each individual must be issued by a government agency. This most often takes the form of a driver's license or passport. For your second form of ID, a utility bill showing your name and address, a lease or documentation of homeownership, a Social Security card or birth certificate is usually accepted.
4. Original or certified copies of your business documents
Different business formations require different kinds of documents:
- Sole proprietorship: If your business shares your name, you will not need additional documentation. Suppose the business name does not include your legal first and last name. In that case, you will likely need one of the following documents: a fictitious name certificate or statement, a certificate of an assumed name, a business license or a trade name registration.
- Partnerships: For a general partnership, you'll need a certified copy of the partnership; your fictitious name certificate or statement, a certificate of assumed name or your business license. If you don't have any of those items, bring a written statement signed by all partners indicating that no written partnership agreement currently exists. Bring all authorized signers with you to start the account. Bring along a certified copy of your certificate of limited partnership or limited-partnership document for a limited partnership. And for a limited-liability partnership, bring one of the following: articles of organization, your limited-partnership agreement or your company's limited-liability-partnership election.
- Limited-liability company: Bring along a certified copy of one of the following: Your articles of organization, your certificate of organization or your certificate of formation.
- Corporation: Bring a certified copy of your articles of incorporation, certificate of good standing or certificate of formation.
5. Special forms if you're applying online
It's possible to apply over the phone or via the web for an online business bank account. In today's remote-friendly and collaborative economy, this is often the preferred method. However, starting your account without being in the bank physically requires additional paperwork. You'll need to talk with the bank to find out the best and most secure way to submit the business documents required for the type of business you're running. In addition, you'll need to submit extra forms, including business and individual information, authorizing the bank to check your credit and certifying who the owners of the company are.
A business bank account protects your personal finances while also making your business transactions easier to keep track of and manage. This simple step to starting and running a successful company is vital. Prepare for it by ensuring that you have everything necessary in hand before beginning the account-opening process.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor