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What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?

What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarcoUpdated February 25, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
A bank account is one of the best tools for protecting and managing your money. To open an account, you generally fill out an application, provide some identifying documentation, and deposit a sum of money. You can do this online or at your local bank branch. The bank may have additional requirements for opening a business, student, or joint account. Keep reading to learn more about what is needed to open a bank account. 

Opening a Bank Account

The first step is to decide whether you want a checking or savings account. A checking account keeps your money accessible, while a savings account can help you set money aside for emergencies.Once you’ve picked the account type and the bank you prefer, there are two ways you can open the account. You can apply in person at a bank branch or, in most cases, you can apply online at the bank’s website. 


If you’ve chosen a web-only bank, you need to open the bank account online, naturally. But traditional brick-and-mortar banks generally offer this convenient option as well. Either way, the information and documents you need to open a bank account will be the same. 

In Person

Applying for an account in person could be preferable if you want assistance with the paperwork, or if there are additional requirements you have to fulfill (to set up a shared account with minors, for example). At the same time, relying on in-person visits may limit your selection of banks to those with branches in your area.

What Documents Do I Need to Open a Bank Account?

If you’re wondering “what do I need to open a bank account?” you may be worried about whether you have all the required documents for your application. Consider calling the bank or searching its website to get a list of necessary items. Especially for in-person appointments, this can save time: You’ll be able to complete your application in one visit without having to go fetch any missing papers. 

Two Forms of ID

In general, banks will require two forms of valid identification. You have several options.


If you have a passport, you can use that as one form of identification. People without passports can use their birth certificate instead. 

Driver's License

A driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID is a standard requirement.

Other Forms of ID

Common examples include U.S. military identification cards and student ID cards. Call or email your prospective bank to confirm it will accept these forms of ID, as what you need to open a bank account can differ between institutions. 

Social Security Number or Taxpayer ID Number

As government-issued credentials, your Social Security card or individual Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) are acceptable identification. 

Proof of Address

You’ll need to show documents sent to you at your current address. This shows that the address you’re using for the account is the one where mail reaches you. All proof-of-address documents must be up-to-date and valid. These documents can include:
  • Lease document
  • Mortgage document
  • Utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Credit card statement

Contact Information

Understandably, the bank needs to know how to get in touch with account holders. In addition to your street address, it may require you to provide a phone number, an email address, or both.Recommended: Opening a Savings Account in 2022

Do You Need a Minimum Deposit?

Many banks require that you make a minimum deposit to open the account. The amount commonly ranges from $25 to $100. Meanwhile, some banks require as little as $1 or no opening deposit at all.  The minimum-deposit figure should appear alongside other account details on the bank’s website. If not, you can always make a quick phone call to inquire. 

How Old Do You Need to Be to Open a Bank Account?

People who are 18 or older can open a checking or savings account on their own. Minors can open one with a parent or guardian who will have joint ownership of the account. 

Documentation Specific to Certain Types of Accounts

You may need additional documentation if you’re applying to open a specialty account such as a business bank account or student account. 

Proof of Enrollment

To open a student checking account, you may have to present documents that confirm you’re enrolled in an eligible school. Depending on your bank, proof documents could be something as simple as an acceptance letter or a student ID. 

Co-Owner Information

With a joint bank account—one account shared by two adults, such as a married couple—both people are co-owners and can deposit or withdraw money. As a result, the bank will want documentation for each of them. Both applicants will need to provide valid forms of identification, proof of address, personal information like birth dates and contact information, and possibly more, if the bank requires it. Also, they may be required to make an opening deposit. 

Power of Attorney

The application process can be complicated when you want to open a bank account and simultaneously give another person power of attorney over it. Each bank handles this process differently, and states also have their own rules. It’s probably most efficient to schedule an in-person appointment with the bank to go over everything that needs to be done.

The Takeaway

To open a bank account, applicants generally need to provide two valid forms of identification, proof of current address, and additional contact information. They may also need to make a small initial deposit. For specialized accounts, banks may request extra documentation. Bank accounts come in all shapes and sizes, so before you open one it’s smart to identify what your needs are. If you want to hang on to your cash in inflationary times, for example, a high-yield savings account can be a good bet. Lantern can help you compare online savings accounts and find today’s best rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What documentation do you need to open a bank account?
Do all banks allow you to open an account online?
Are minimum deposits required for all bank accounts?
Photo credit: iStock/AsiaVision

About the Author

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco is a personal finance writer and editor based in Southern California. While she spends the bulk of her time writing about complex financial issues, she also tackles a variety of subjects ranging from food to fashion to travel. Her work can be found across dozens of publications such as Credit Karma, LendingTree, Northwestern Mutual, The Everygirl, and Apartment Therapy.
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