What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

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Updated on Thursday, December 31, 2020

The basics you need to open a bank account include a government-issued ID and personal information like your Social Security number and date of birth. Other requirements depend on the type of account you plan to open.

Make the process of opening a bank account as easy as possible by consulting our guide below.

What do you need to open a bank account?

Before applying to open a bank account — either in person at a branch or online — make sure you have the following items ready:

  • A government-issued photo ID: This can include a state-issued driver’s license, a state-issued identification card (an alternative ID for people who don’t drive), a U.S. passport or a military identification card. If you do not have U.S. government-issued identification, some banks and credit unions accept foreign passports and consular IDs.
  • A second form of ID: This can include your Social Security card, a bill with your name and address on it or a birth certificate.
  • Basic personal information: You will need to supply your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), address, birth date and phone number.
  • Proof of address: You will need to prove your physical street address, providing a utility bill or lease that shows your name and address. Many banks do not accept P.O. boxes as a valid form of address.
  • Initial deposit: Some banks require a minimum deposit to open an account, while others will allow you to open an account with a zero balance. You can make an initial deposit by ACH transfer from another account using the bank’s routing and account numbers, by entering a credit card or debit card number or by making a cash deposit.

What do you need to open a joint bank account

In addition to the documentation listed above, if you are opening a joint bank account, you should also prepare to bring the following:

  • Information of joint owner: You will need the paperwork and information outlined above for each of the named owners on the joint bank account.

What do you need to open a bank account if you are under 18

If you are a minor opening a bank account, you should also come with the following:

  • A parent or legal guardian: Minors under 18 years of age are typically required to have an account co-owner who is over 18. This can be a parent or legal guardian who signs the legal documents.

What do you need to open a bank account at a credit union

When opening an account at a credit union, as opposed to a bank, you should be prepared to bring additional information including:

  • Proof of eligibility: Many credit unions require you to become a member when you open an account. Some credit unions limit membership to people who work in a certain industry or live in a certain city or state. Other credit unions open their membership rolls to anyone, although often you are required to make a one-time charitable donation to join. Check with your credit union of choice before applying to open an account, and be sure to come with documentation that supports your eligibility (such as a payroll statement from your eligible employer).

What do you need to open a business bank account

If you’re opening a business bank account — as opposed to a personal bank account — you typically will be required to provide the following documentation:

  • Ownership documents: You will need to prove the structure of your business, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. If your business is owned by more than one person, you will need to provide a partnership agreement that outlines each owner’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Social Security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN): You will need to provide a bank with proof of your EIN. If your business is structured as a sole proprietorship, you can use your Social Security number.
  • Personal identification: The officer of the business will need to provide valid forms of personal identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or passport.
  • Business license: Depending on your local government regulations, you may be required to show a business license. Each state and city or township has different guidelines, so check with your area to determine local rules.
  • Assumed name certificate: If your business operates under a name that is different than its legal name, you will need to provide documentation. This is typically called a DBA, or “Doing Business As.” For example, your legal business name might be Sam Smith, LLC, but you do business under the name “Smith Accounting Services.”

What kind of bank account do you need to open?

While everyone can benefit from having a checking and savings account, you may have a greater variety of accounts to meet your financial goals. Here are some account types to consider when you go to open your bank account:

Type of accountChecking account Savings account Cash management account Money market account Certificate of deposit (CD)
Best for...Everyday spending needs Stashing an emergency fund or saving for short-term goalsSaving for mid- to longer-term goalsTransferring money to and from checking and savings accountsSaving for long-term goals
ProsOffers unlimited transactions and withdrawals, easy access to funds

Low or no monthly fees

FDIC insurance
Offers higher APYs (annual percentage yields) than checking accounts

Low or no monthly fees

FDIC insurance
Typically has higher APYs than savings accounts

Low or no monthly fees

FDIC insurance
Offers liquidity of a checking account through unlimited withdrawals and transfers

Competitive APYs

Low or no monthly fees

FDIC insurance
Typically has higher APYs than other deposit accounts

Offers a locked-in rate for a set period of time

Low or no monthly fees

FDIC insurance
ConsMinimal interest earnedMonthly withdrawal limitsOften requires higher account minimums than savings accountsTypically only offered by online financial institutionsTypically requires higher minimums

Hefty penalties for early withdrawal

Opening a bank account: FAQ

Yes, many financial institutions allow you to open a bank account online, via their website or sometimes through their mobile app. However, some banks may require certain individuals to visit a branch in-person in order to open a bank account, such as minors.

You can often open a bank account online by visiting your financial institution’s website and filling out an online application. You will typically need to provide the materials listed above to do so.

Yes, there are an array of bank accounts that you can open that do not require an opening deposit. These are our top picks for free checking accounts.

If you have a history of too many overdrafts, bounced checks or closed accounts, you may need to open a second-chance bank account. Second-chance accounts let you reestablish your banking bona fides, although they also come with certain limitations or extra fees.

When you apply to open an account, financial institutions check your past banking history to assess how much of a risk it might be to do business with you. ChexSystems provides banking background reports that track your closed checking and savings accounts. The bank will look at your history of overdrawn accounts, negative balances or closed accounts. ChexSystems information typically stays on your report for five years.