How to Open a Business Checking Account

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Having a business checking account is essential to successfully operating any company. Even sole proprietors and home-based businesses can benefit from having a business checking account, especially when it comes time to file income taxes. It is increasingly rare to be able to fully open business bank accounts online due to the Patriot Act and the bank’s need to validate the existence of a legitimate self-employment or incorporated company. Fortunately, most banks and credit unions make opening a business checking account fairly easy for customers.

Things You'll Need

  • Articles of incorporation (if applicable)
  • Business license
  • Cash, check or money order deposit
  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Personal photo identification

Gather all the business documents you have. Important items usually include articles of incorporation (if your business is incorporated), a business license and your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Visit the local bank or credit union of your choice, with documents in hand. Alternatively, you can also apply online at several major national banks (see Resources below), but likely you will be asked to fax or hand-deliver essential documents proving your business status.

Tell a bank representative (if visiting a bank or credit union in person) that you wish to open a business checking account.

Complete the application with a bank employee. You will be asked for information such as your name, business name, your home address, your business address (if different), home and business telephone numbers, EIN and Social Security Number. (This is in accordance with the Patriot Act, which works to prevent illegal accounts due to September 11, 2001.) If your business is incorporated, you will be asked to provide evidence you are an officer of the corporation, which is usually found in the articles of incorporation.

Tell the bank representative the information for any additional signers you might want on your business checking account.

Deposit cash, check or money order as your business checking account’s required opening deposit. Keep in mind many business accounts require as much as $2,500 to open. If this is not possible for your company or proprietorship to come up with these funds, you may wish to open a second personal checking account to be used only for business affairs.

Order any checks or debit cards while at the bank, unless you plan to print your own checks using programs such as QuickBooks.

Start using your account regularly to pay bills and make deposits. You should receive your new checks and any debit card within 7 to 10 business days.

Tips & Warnings

  • Anyone you authorize as a signer on the account has the authority to close the account and take all the money within it. Be absolutely sure there is a necessary business purpose before allowing someone else onto your business checking account.
  • Do not panic about giving the bank your Social Security Number. Most banks do not run the personal credit of business checking account signers. If you are incorporated, your business is a separate legal entity, and in virtually all cases, your personal assets are safe from bank seizure. However, if you have credit problems and are concerned they might become a factor, consider approaching a small local bank or credit union for your business banking needs.

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