How to Open a Business Bank Account Online: A Full Guide 2021

If you’re starting a new business one of your priorities will be to get a business bank account up and running. You need a business bank account to keep your personal finances separate from your business funds, and to make tax reporting and accounting easier.

The good news is that you may be able to open a business bank account online to save admin time and make life easier. That could be an account with a traditional bank which offers an online opening process - or a digital business account with a modern online provider. This guide walks through some of the key options.

business
Best Overall Online Service

Can I open a business bank account online?

You’ve got a couple of alternatives if you want to open your business bank account online in the US:

  • Find a brick and mortar bank which will allow you to open entirely online
  • Choose a digital bank or provider which offers online only services

If you want to stick with a traditional bank for a business bank account - because you’ll be paying in cash to your account, or prefer face to face service in a branch, for example - you’ll need to shop around.

Some major US banks do offer online opening for business bank accounts, but you’ll have to hit certain eligibility criteria. Other banks allow you to do most of the process online, but require you to attend a branch in person to present documents and give signature samples. Find account options which will suit your business and check out how flexible the options for opening are.

The alternative is to go with an online only provider or neobank. These modern services - some of which are no longer all that new - operate without branches, and so have online application processes. You’ll be able to enter your details and upload scanned copies of the documents needed, for an online verification process. This can be quicker and easier than attending a branch, and the fees for these online banks tend to be relatively low, too.

How to open a business bank account online?

Here are the key steps you’re going to want to take to open a business bank account online, no matter which type of account you decide to go for:

Steps to open a business bank account online:

  1. 1

    Research business bank account options and find one that suits you

  2. 2

    Confirm the information and paperwork required, and who is eligible to apply

  3. 3

    Gather your documentation and start the application - you may need to download the bank or providers app to do this

  4. 4

    Upload scanned images of documents following the provider's processes - or visit a branch in person if required

  5. 5

    You may need to transfer a minimum deposit as part of your application and await verification

  6. 6

    Receive your checkbook and card - if you need them - in the mail

  7. 7

    Activate your card, add funds to your account and you’re good to go

It’s worth noting that verifying your documents and details for a business account may take a few days as there are legal checks banks are obliged to carry out on businesses to stop fraud and money laundering. 

Check with your chosen provider how long it’s likely to take, and leave yourself plenty of time to complete the full process end to end.

What do I need to open a business bank account online?

The exact information and documents required to get your business bank account up and running depend on the type of business entity you run, and the bank or other provider you’ve chosen to open with. However, in all cases you’re going to need to enter information about both the business owners, and the business itself.

Information about business owners and applicant

Firstly, you’re going to have to have a set of information about the applicant and typically any partners or business owners including:

  • Full names 
  • Residential addresses
  • Government issued ID documents as reference
  • Dates of birth
  • Social security numbers

You’ll need to check who is eligible to apply for your business account, and who must provide documentation. This varies by bank and by business type so for example you may find that for a partnership, partners with a 10% or more stake must provide details, while for other business types anyone with a 25% stake or more needs to enter their information.

Information about your business

You’ll also need to provide comprehensive information about your business. The paperwork needed will vary depending on the type of legal entity you run, but can include:

  • Business address and contact information
  • Type of business and number of locations
  • Business tax ID or social security number if you’re a sole proprietor
  • Business formation date and relevant documentation such as Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization 
  • State of business formation 
  • Legal business name and DBA (doing business as) name, if applicable

You may also need to give details about your business and the type of work you do, such as your actual or projected annual turnover, the number of transactions you expect to be putting through the account, or the number of employees you have.

Online business bank account for free?

You can find business bank accounts which have no monthly fees if you shop around. There are also some accounts which offer easy ways to waive monthly service fees - by holding a fixed minimum balance for example. 

For free business bank accounts with no minimum balance requirement, start your search with online only providers which tend to offer lower fees overall.

Before you sign up to any business account you’ll want to check out the full range of potential costs. 

Even if a business account comes with no fixed monthly fee, the chances are that you’ll need to pay for some transactions. Make sure that the costs for transactions you’ll make often are reasonable, to avoid running into problems down the line.

Can I open an online business bank account in the US from abroad?

Opening a US based business bank account online from overseas may be a little trickier than getting one as a US resident. Check the eligibility requirements of the banks you’re interested in to see if they can consider applications from non-residents.

One smart approach if you need a business bank account which will work in USD - but you’re not in the US - is to get a multi-currency business account

Multi-currency accounts can be used to hold a range of global currencies - open one based on your place of residence, and use the USD facility to send and receive payments for your business in the US. 

Check out online providers for the best range of multi-currency business accounts. While multi-currency account options are available from traditional banks, there tend to be higher minimum deposit requirements which are designed to suit large established businesses and corporations rather than entrepreneurs and startups.

Information about business owners and applicant

Firstly, you’re going to have to have a set of information about the applicant and typically any partners or business owners including:

  • Full names 
  • Residential addresses
  • Government issued ID documents as reference
  • Dates of birth
  • Social security numbers

You’ll need to check who is eligible to apply for your business account, and who must provide documentation. This varies by bank and by business type so for example you may find that for a partnership, partners with a 10% or more stake must provide details, while for other business types anyone with a 25% stake or more needs to enter their information.

Information about your business

You’ll also need to provide comprehensive information about your business. The paperwork needed will vary depending on the type of legal entity you run, but can include:

  • Business address and contact information
  • Type of business and number of locations
  • Business tax ID or social security number if you’re a sole proprietor
  • Business formation date and relevant documentation such as Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization 
  • State of business formation 
  • Legal business name and DBA (doing business as) name, if applicable

You may also need to give details about your business and the type of work you do, such as your actual or projected annual turnover, the number of transactions you expect to be putting through the account, or the number of employees you have.

In general opening a bank account online can seem like more hassle than it should be. However, traditional banks are expanding their online options, and newer providers have also stepped in to fill the gap in providing online accounts for individuals and businesses around the world. 

Doing some advance research is the best way to find the online business bank account for you - check out traditional banks and modern online services to see which meets your needs.

Sending money abroad? Compare exchange rates and fees

By Ileana Ionescu Updated July 30th, 2021