What Do You Need To Open a Bank Account?

A cheerful female banker explains the different types of banking accounts to a new customer.
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If you’re looking to open a bank account, you might be wondering what documents and information you’ll need to apply for one. Here’s what you need to know about the requirements for opening a new bank account.

What Documents Do You Need To Open a Bank Account?

Here’s a list of what you’ll generally need to open a bank account:

  • Full legal name and date of birth
  • Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
  • A valid government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport
  • Contact information, such as your current phone number and email address
  • An official document displaying your name and address — not a P.O. box. Accepted documents may include a lease agreement, utility bill, mortgage statement, bank statement or credit card statement.
  • Money for an opening deposit

Whether you’re opening an account in person at a branch or online from the comfort of your home, the documentation you’ll need is generally the same. If you go to a bank or credit union branch, take hard copies of your documentation.

Can I Open a Bank Account Without a Social Security Number?

You are not always required to have a government-issued Social Security number or ITIN to open a bank account. Some financial institutions will accept a foreign passport number or other government-issued ID number.

What Are the Requirements for Opening a Bank Account?

To open a new bank account, you must meet certain qualifications. Factors that banks and credit unions consider include:

  • Age: Typically, you must be at least 18 years old to open an account of your own. Minors may open a bank account with a co-owner who is a parent or guardian. 
  • Banking history: Banks don’t check your credit score when you open a checking or savings account, but they may screen your banking history for unpaid negative balances, overdraft fees or bounced checks. If you owe money to another bank or credit union, you may not be able to open a new account.
  • Fraud: If a consumer is flagged for potentially fraudulent activity, they may not be able to open a new bank account elsewhere. Banks and credit unions want to protect themselves from financial loss.
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How To Open a Bank Account

It’s relatively easy to open a bank account if you fulfill the necessary requirements. Simply follow these steps to get started:

1. Decide Which Bank Is Best for You

Some banks may offer features that fit your personal preferences and financial needs. Take the time to research different banks and compare their various benefits, types of accounts, physical locations, mobile apps and service fees.

You’ll also need to choose which account to open. If you need quick access to your money, a checking account is a good option. If you’re planning to tuck it away to grow, consider a savings account or certificate of deposit instead. Some banks and credit unions require you to open a specific account first, like having a checking account before you can open a savings account.

2. Confirm Your Eligibility

Once you’ve settled on a bank, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for opening an account. Many people will have no trouble with this step, but you may run into difficulties if you have a poor financial track record at previous banks.

If you’re under 18 years old, you may need a parent or guardian to help open your account.

3. Apply

Nowadays, many banks offer the ability to open an account on their website or through their mobile app. However, some banks still require you to submit documents in person. Before starting the application, make sure you have all of the required documents on hand.

To apply, simply follow the directions on your preferred bank’s website or visit a physical branch, where a bank employee can walk you through the process.

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4. Set Up Your Account

If your application is approved, get started by transferring money to your new account. Most banks offer easy-to-use online banking tools or mobile applications for you to manage your account.

How Much Do You Need To Open a Bank Account?

When you open your bank account, you’ll need to fund it before you can start using it. Some banks require a minimum initial deposit varying from $25 to $100 when you open an account. There are also accounts that don’t require a minimum opening deposit. Ask your financial institution if there are any minimum deposit requirements you’ll need to meet.

If your bank requires a minimum deposit, there are a few ways you can deposit the money. You can write a check or transfer funds from another bank account you already have, or you can provide cash

Keep in mind that some banks charge monthly fees for their account services. You can typically avoid the fees by meeting certain requirements, like maintaining a minimum balance or receiving your paycheck via direct deposit. Ask your bank about any fees it charges and how you can minimize them.

How Do I Open a Bank Account for the First Time?

The rules for opening a bank account for the first time are no different than those for people who already have bank accounts. Ensure you have the proper identification documents and the money needed to meet the bank’s minimum initial deposit requirements. You will need to select the type of account you wish to open and submit an application. If you’re approved for a bank account, you can usually start using it immediately.

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Final Take

Today, there are more options than ever for people looking to open a new bank account. Whether you’re looking to bank with a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment or an up-and-coming online bank, you’ll be sure to find a bank that suits your needs.

Be sure to research several potential options and read reviews from existing customers. Once you’ve settled on the perfect fit, prepare to apply by collecting any required documents. Opening a bank account should be relatively straightforward and can take just a few minutes online or at a branch.

Virginia Anderson and Katy Hebebrand contributed to the reporting for this article.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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