You’ve taken the big step and decided to open up your own business. For many of you, you’ve just filed the articles of incorporation or formed your limited liability company. Some of you have decided that a sole proprietorship is the easiest way to run your business as you don’t have serious liability issues. It’s time to open a bank account for your business.

First, you should shop around to find a bank that offers business accounts without a lot of fees. Some banks charge for every deposit you make, for every check you write, or every time you go below a certain balance. Some banks charge all of these fees. You may want to investigate which banks offer “merchant services" which are the acceptance of credit cards and how much each bank charges you for each credit card transaction as well as other fees.

Once you have found a bank that you want to do business with, you need to open your business account. Each bank has its own rules for the documentation it wants to see. You should call the bank at which you want to open your business account to find out what documentation they want you to bring. If you are a corporation, you need a copy of your articles of incorporation and your taxpayer identification number, which is also known as an employer identification number (all corporations need one). If you are a corporation that is using an assumed business name (also known as a d/b/a), bring proof that you have legally filed for use of that name. Many banks will want to see a corporate resolution showing the name of the person who is allowed to open the bank account and be a signatory on the account. For limited liability companies, usually you need to bring your Certificate of Formation, your taxpayer identification number, and sometimes, your Operating Agreement (which will state who can open a bank account and be a signatory on the account). If you are a sole proprietor who is using an assumed business name, bring proof of the legal filing for use of that name. Additionally, you must bring proof of your identity (driver’s license, passport, etc.).

If your business is a corporation or a limited liability company, it is very important to open a bank account for your business that is separate and apart from your personal accounts. This keeps your business “veil" over your business assets and keeps the limited liability aspect of your business intact. Never commingle your business and personal banking.