How to Open a Business Bank Account Online
You can open a business account online quickly— sometimes in only a few minutes. You’ll just need proof of ID, proof of address, and some business details.
If you need to open a bank account for your business or are looking for a new bank that will better suit your business needs, opening one online is often the most hassle-free option. Online business bank account applications are offered by both online-only banks and, increasingly, by traditional high street banks.
In the past, most high street banks required an in-person meeting to grant a business bank account, so online banks have been able to challenge the status quo with innovations like remote account opening.
How quickly can I set up a business bank account online?
Depending on the bank you choose, wait times for opening a business bank account online range from minutes to weeks. Most online banks will offer rapid set up as a selling point; some even offer same-day business bank accounts. Meanwhile, at a traditional bank, while you may be able to apply for your bank account online, the process may take much longer.
Why is it so much faster to use an online business bank?
Online banks are set up specifically to cut down on bureaucracy, paperwork and wait times that are often associated with traditional banks. They don’t have physical bank branches, so there’s no need to attend an in-person meeting, and they are able to devote their resources to speeding up their processes.
What do I need to set up a business bank account online?
To start your business bank account online, you’ll usually need the following documentation:
- Photo ID.
- Proof of address.
You may also need to provide:
- Your business address (this can be your accountant’s address or your home address if you don’t have business premises).
- Contact details.
- Companies House registration number (for limited companies and partnerships).
- Estimated annual turnover.
- Details of your personal banking or credit history.
- Details of company directors and/or signatories to the account.
If you haven’t got a Companies House registration number because you’re just starting your business, some online business bank accounts will help you register as part of the sign-up process.
Some business bank accounts require personal credit history, but many that don’t. It is quick and easy to compare business bank accounts that don’t require credit checks on NerdWallet.
How safe is it to set up a business bank account online?
All the usual online safety precautions should be followed when setting up your online business bank account, for example:
- Use a private, password-protected Wi-Fi network.
- Create a strong, unique password and store it with a password manager.
- Log out if using a shared computer.
- Monitor the account for unusual transactions.
Online business bank accounts are generally safe, provided they are regulated banks approved for trading in the UK. For an additional layer of safety, check that your business bank account is Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protected. The FSCS is a scheme set up to insure bank balances of up to £85,000 in the event of a bank failure. Most UK banks are signed up to this scheme, though not all so do check.
What happens if I need to deposit cash or a cheque?
Most online business banks are set up to accept cash and cheque deposits via the Post Office or a PayPoint location - usually in convenience stores and corner shops. Some online business bank accounts allow you to process cheques via the app though there may be a limit on the value of the cheque that can be accepted). If you deal with a lot of cash in your business, you might need to check if your online bank account has a cash deposit limit, or if they can accept currencies other than sterling.
Before you set up an online business bank account, make sure you’re fully aware of the pros and cons of using an online bank. They all differ slightly in terms of functionality and fees, but it’s quick and easy to compare the features of different business bank accounts.
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Vivienne is a freelance business and finance writer, and the founder of Artists Make Money, a podcast and personal finance resource hub for people who work in the arts industry. Read more