What Do I Need to Open a Bank Account?

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Updated on Monday, February 18, 2019

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 on opening. 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 — in person at a branch, or online — make sure you have the following things 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 need to prove your physical street address, with 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.

Do you need an initial deposit to open a bank account?

Some bank accounts require an initial deposit, and some do not. How much money do you need to open a bank account? It depends on the financial institution.

Many institutions require a minimum deposit to open a bank account, while others allow you to open an account with a zero balance. You can use cash, checks, a money order, a debit card from another account or an ACH transfer to make an initial deposit.

What do you need to open a joint bank account?

If you plan on opening a joint bank account, you will need the paperwork and information outlined above for each of the named owners of the joint bank account. Two or more people who wish to share a bank account can open a joint account. Married couples or people in a relationship often share a joint bank account, but this form of account is available for anyone, regardless of relationship status.

What do you need to open a credit union account?

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.

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

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 an online bank account?

The requirements to open an online bank account are very similar to the points we’ve outlined above. Before you enter personal information online, be sure you are on a secure site. Look for the lock symbol or “https://” at the beginning of the URL to verify that your connection is secure. Here’s what you’ll need for opening a bank account online:

  • You will need to enter your personal information into online forms. You should be prepared to enter your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), address, birth date, phone number and email address.
  • You will need a U.S. government-issued form of identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card (issued for non-drivers), U.S. passport or military identification card. Online banks generally require you to take a photograph of your ID with a mobile device and upload the picture as part of the application process, to verify your identity.
  • Some banks will require you to print out and sign a signature card that you mail in as part of the account opening process. If you are opening a joint online bank account, all parties will need to provide signatures. Signature cards are used to verify your signature when you write or deposit a check.
  • As noted above, 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, or by entering a credit card or debit card number.

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:

  • Checking account: A checking account is for handling everyday transactions, such as paying bills and depositing your paycheck. It provides easy access to your money via paper check, debit card, ATM or ACH transfer.
  • Savings account: A savings account is for stashing money for longer-term financial goals. Generally you should have a checking account and a savings account, as both types comprise your basic tools for sound management of your personal finances.
  • Money market account: A money market account is a hybrid that combines attributes of both checking and savings accounts. Offering higher yields than many traditional savings accounts, money market accounts allow you to access funds via debit cards or checks. In addition to the identifying documents needed to open a checking and savings account, money market accounts typically require a higher initial deposit.
  • Certificate of deposit (CD): With certificates of deposit, you deposit funds for a set period of time and earn a set rate of interest. Some CDs earn higher interest rates than savings accounts.

Do you need to open a second-chance bank account?

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.

What do you need to open a business bank account?

If you want to open a business bank account, the documentation required depends on your business and your location. Here’s what you may need to open a bank account for your business:

  • 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 business bank account do you need?

The types of bank accounts available for businesses are broadly similar to personal bank accounts. You may need to open some or all of these accounts:

  • Business checking account: To handle day-to-day transactions, your business will need a business checking account. When you open one, you can deposit revenue and use checks to pay bills. Features vary by financial institution, so make sure to shop around.
  • Business savings account: To save for future purchases or upcoming expenses, you may want to open a business savings account. This will allow you to build a balance and earn a little bit of interest, as well.
  • Business money market account: Another option is a business money market account. This type of account often pays higher interest than a traditional business savings account while offering check-writing privileges. It can help provide a safe place for your earnings to grow and allow you to take care of larger business expenses.