3 Documents You Need to Open a Business Bank Account

When you start a new business, you will almost always open a bank account. And to help streamline the process, here are three documents the bank will almost certainly ask you to provide.

INCORPORATION DOCUMENTS

The exact title of these documents will differ based on the type of entity you form and the state in which your form your business:

  1. For LLCs, they are usually called Articles of Organization. They are typically just a page or two and will include information about your LLC such as the name, it’s registered agent, the name of the organizer, and sometimes more.
  2. For corporations, they are usually called Articles of Incorporation. These are usually a bit longer than the documents for an LLC (usually about three to six pages). They will contain the same information as an LLC’s forms, but may also include information on your board of directors, indemnification, and more.

Regardless, be sure to save these documents when you form your business. If you can’t find your documents, you can obtain certified copies from your Secretary of State’s office. And luckily, you can do that online in many states today.

IRS EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER

Even if you don’t have employees, you still need an EIN. In many ways, an EIN is like a Social Security Number in that the government and other parties will use it as a unique number to identify your business.

You can file an SS4 to obtain an EIN by mail or fax. Alternatively, you can use the IRS’ online tool available here. Note that they have “hours of operation” for that website, so it isn’t available 24/7. If you use the online form, you should receive a copy of the IRS’ letter when you are done. If you don’t, you’ll get it in the mail a few weeks after you apply (but you should still get the number itself at the end of the online process).

Most banks will accept a screenshot of the online confirmation page, but some will require the letter itself.

CORPORATE DOCUMENTS

This is the one item that varies quite a bit from bank to bank. Some banks will require an entire copy of your governing documents (such as a corporation’s bylaws or an LLC’s operating agreement). Other banks will require just the cover page and signature page. And still others might not require this at all.

However, most banks will require some kind of business resolutions or meeting minutes. You (or your lawyer) can prepare your own or you can use a copy provided by the bank. In short, it is a written document authorizing the company to open a business bank account.

ONE MORE TIP…

You should always do your research before selecting which bank to use for your business. The key is to find one that operates the way you operate. If you like in-person relationships, find one that excels in that. If you like online banking, ask them for a demo of their website. If mobile apps are important, inquire about that.

NEED HELP STARTING YOUR NEW BUSINESS?

You can learn a lot about starting a new business from successful entrepreneurs that have come before you. One of the best programs to complete is the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac program. You can learn more about the free program and enroll at www.fasttrac.org.

CONTRIBUTOR: Chris Brown, Venture Legal