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.
In the past, high street banks often required you to meet in person before allowing you to open a business bank account, so online banks challenged the status quo with innovations such as remote account opening. In recent years, online business bank account applications have been offered by both online-only banks and, increasingly, by traditional high street banks.
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 (e.g. a passport or photocard driving licence)
- proof of address (e.g. a utility bill or bank statement)
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).
- your tax identification number (TIN) – this may be your National Insurance number if you’re a sole trader or your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) if you run a limited company
- your business’s estimated annual turnover
- details of company directors and signatories to the account
If you don’t have 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 banks may check your personal credit score when reviewing your application –for example, if your business is fairly new and doesn’t have its own credit history.
On the other hand, some providers may accept you for a business account without doing a credit check. You can compare business bank accounts that don’t require credit checks on NerdWallet.
How quickly can I set up a business bank account online?
Depending on the bank you choose and your personal circumstances, wait times for opening a business bank account online can range from minutes to days.
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, you may be able to apply for your bank account online but the process may take longer.
Why can it be faster to use an online business bank?
Many online banks have been set up specifically to cut down on paperwork and wait times that can be associated with traditional banks. They don’t have physical bank branches, so there’s no need to attend in person, which means they are able to devote their resources to speeding up their processes.
How safe is it to set up a business bank account online?
Online business bank accounts are safe, provided they are regulated banks or e-money accounts approved for trading in the UK. You can usually find this out by looking at the bottom of any page on a provider’s website.
For an additional layer of safety, check that your business bank account is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS is a scheme set up to insure bank balances of up to £85,000 (or up to £170,000 for joint accounts) in the event of a bank failure. You can check if your money is protected on the FSCS website.
Some providers are not regulated banks, but instead offer electronic money (e-money) accounts. These are not protected by FSCS rules. However, they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so providers must safeguard any deposits you have with them. If a bank or e-money account is regulated by the FCA, it will appear on the FCA register.
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 in a password manager system.
- Log out of your account and clear browsing history after using a shared computer.
- Monitor the account for unusual transactions.
What happens if I need to deposit cash or a cheque?
Some online business banks are set up to accept cash via the Post Office or a PayPoint location – sometimes in convenience stores and corner shops. Some online business bank accounts allow you to process cheques via their app (though there may be a limit on the value of the cheque that can be accepted). Cheque deposits may also be accepted by post.
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.
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
Kristina is a writer at NerdWallet. A recent graduate trading French for finance, she has experience creating content for student newspaper Cherwell and an edtech company. Read more