How to Open a Checking Account

You'll need these documents to open your own personal checking account or business checking account.

To open a new checking account, find out which documents banks require. Generally, you’ll need your ID and Social Security number, plus funds for the account, but some banks require additional documents. Next, follow the bank’s steps online or at a branch for how to open a bank account, such as by filling out an application. Research the best checking accounts and choose one that suits your financial situation.

Many banks allow you to apply for a checking account in any of three ways: in person, over the phone or online. Your bank or credit union’s website should provide the appropriate phone number, a link to an online application or a tool for finding a local branch to visit. Follow the instructions from the financial institution of your choice to apply for and open a checking account.

How to Open a Personal Checking Account

Before you head to the bank, find out the answer to the question, “What do I need to open a bank account?” You’ll be required to provide personal information and sign off on legal disclaimers. Although you don’t always need physical documents, you will need the following information:

  • Current address
  • Identification
  • Social Security number
  • Account information to transfer an initial deposit or a check or cash to make the minimum opening deposit
  • Information for any joint account holder

You’ll need the same information whether you apply in person, over the phone or through the financial institution’s online banking platform. You can fund your opening deposit with money from another account, cash, a check or even a credit card at some banks. Some banks offer promotional bonuses for account holders who set up direct deposit.

Read: 15 Checking Account Bonuses and Promotions Available Today

How to Open a Business Checking Account

Applying for a business checking account can be a lengthier process and requires additional documents. Whether you open a business checking account or business savings account, banks must provide documents to government agencies that verify your business and the people affiliated with it.

Here are the documents you need to open a business bank account:

  • Authorization for information and certificate of authority
  • Certification regarding beneficial owners of legal entity customers
  • Business license
  • Tax ID

You should be prepared to submit supplemental documents, depending on the type of business. Wells Fargo, for example, requires different documentation for:

  • Sole proprietors
  • General partnerships
  • Limited partnerships
  • Limited liability partnerships
  • Limited liability companies
  • Corporations
  • Civic groups

Each bank has different requirements. Here are examples of other documents — in addition to business license and tax ID — required by large U.S. banks.

BankDocuments Needed to Open a Business Checking Account 
Bank of AmericaDepends on type of business
BB&TCurrent bank account number, home address, SSN
Capital OneProof of age 18+, proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
ChaseSupplemental documentation listing the owner, assumed name application or filing receipt application, published newspaper entry
Huntington BankEmployer identification number, assignment letter, assumed name certificate or fictitious name certificate
PNC logo 2017PNCSecondary ID, SSN of owner, fictitious name registration, certificate of assumed name, registration of alternate name or assumed name registration
Wells FargoAuthorization for information, certificate of authority, certification regarding beneficial owners of legal entity customers

See: 10 Best Checking Accounts of 2017

A valid checking account is necessary for every financially healthy business and individual. If you want to open a personal account, gather your documents before you apply. If you need to open a business account, find out exactly what your bank requires for the type of business you run.