As a business owner, you might consider getting a separate bank account for your business finances - but can you open a business bank account without SSN? What are your alternatives, if you can?
There are various reasons why people may not provide an SSN. In most cases, they may not be eligible for one. In other cases, they may not want to link their personal information to their business structure.
Regardless of the case, there are several alternatives for them. If you are in this situation, as well, read on to find out more on the matter.
Note: if you want to open a hassle-free and virtually guaranteed business bank account, try Bonsai Cash. Bonsai Cash has no hidden fees or monthly minimums and allows you to get paid faster as well as manage your business finances for taxes. Open an account today.
The Social Security Number, also commonly referred to as the SSN, is a number that identifies the citizens of the United States, whether they were born in the U.S. or not. This also includes residents with a temporary visa.
The United States government uses the SSN in order to track income, offer benefits and offer public assistance. It is also important for tax purposes, as the IRS uses it to track your due taxes.
SSNs are used for various other things, such as obtaining financial credit or opening a bank account. The SSN also makes you seem like a more reliable person, which means that you are more likely to get a job as an immigrant if you have one.
SSNs are mostly a form of ID, which is why banks use them in order to open an account. That being said, there are no legal requirements to use exactly the SSN. The bank simply needs to know that the business bank account they open is for a legitimate person.
For the most part, this is up to the bank. And since the bank wants to be covered and not go through extra risks and liability, they choose to make the SSN mandatory.
That being said, not every financial institution believes this, and they allow users to open a business bank account without an SSN. For example, Bonsai offers you various alternatives if you do not want to use your SSN or simply do not have one.
The answer to that is: yes, but not always. In the past, people did not need a social security number in order to get a bank account. However, the Federal Reserve System regulates most of the banks, along with the Deposit Insurance Corporation and their own board of directors.
Most banks get past the first two, but can't get past the third threshold involving the board of directors. As a result, there are still some banks that meet the guidelines on every front and allow you to open a business bank account without an SSN. You just have to look for them.
The SSN is not the only form of documentation that you can use to prove who you are. There are various other alternatives there. This is what most banks request as alternatives:
Alongside this, you may have to provide other pieces of information, such as your address, date of birth, and phone number.
The ITIN is a document that is issued by the IRS and is a form of ID that many banks require in the absence of an SSN.
In order to get an ITIN, you need to obtain Form W-7 from the IRS website and then file it together with your tax return.
You may also discuss matters with an acceptance agent that handles ITIN numbers. They should be able to guide you on how to obtain an ITIN, so that you may open a business bank account without the SSN.
Typically, some banks will require you to provide an EIN (Employer Identification Number) when opening a business bank account. It's like an SSN, but for businesses. This mostly depends on the financial institutions, as not every bank will ask for an EIN. You cannot open an account for business with just an EIN.
The only issue is that if you apply online for the EIN without an SSN, then you still need to get an ITIN. You may also get an EIN by sending to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the completed Form SS-4, either by fax or mail.
Many of the banks out there don't require a social security number, but they're more common in the "side streams." When it comes to mainstream banks, you have a few options in institutions such as Alliant Credit Union or Bank of America, but the choices are limited.
This is why you could go for more accessible banks such as Bonsai. When you open a business bank account, you won't need the SSN, mainly because their rules are less strict.
Instead, you can open it with extra documentation to prove who you are and what your business entails. You may need to offer your business tax ID number, but other than that, you won't be required to bring in an SSN in order to open a bank account.
There are many banks in the United States that offer banking services for those without an SSN. This doesn't mean that you need to choose the first bank you come across. So, how do you choose a business bank account? Here are some criteria you should evaluate:
For the most part, you should be able to obtain this information from their main page. That being said, you can also find out more about the banking institution through reviews.
If you do not have a social security number, then you might have to go through a number of steps to open business bank accounts. Overall, the process is not difficult, but you may need to prepare your homework a bit beforehand. Here's what you need to do.
When opening a business bank account you need to determine which type you want to get. There are many options, depending on the bank, but the most important types you will likely use are these two:
A checking account is the current one that you use for your daily transactions. This is the account where your money gets deposited, where you make your payments, pay bills, and so on.
The money from a checking account is usually linked to a debit card, so you can make transactions for this type of card at any ATM.
Unlike business checking accounts that are used to make payments, savings accounts are there for you to set extra money aside for rainy days.
Most savings accounts will provide an annual percentage yield, which is an interest rate for the sum you have in savings. The more money you set aside, the higher the yield is going to be.
That being said, for you to get the most out of your savings, you need to leave the money untouched. Otherwise, the APY might be affected.
While a savings account won't affect your business credit directly (at least not always), it will still help you lower your interest rate when you try to get California finance lender loans. Since you have assets, you will seem like less of a risk.
Some banks may not need an SSN, but they still can't give you a US bank account without some sort of documentation. You will need to replace the SSN with another form of identification.
Create a list of every other document that you have available. Make sure that all of them are up to date. Once you do that, you should be able to choose a bank where you can open a low-doc business bank account.
Now that you have all your documents in order and you know what kind of business account you want to open, it is time that you make a list of all the potential banks and cross-reference them with the documents you may be able to provide.
Bear in mind that this process may be relatively timely, and you may also need to make a few concessions. For example, big banks that offer this kind of account online are rare, so you may be better off choosing a smaller financial institution for small businesses.
For instance, Bonsai Cash allows you to use your individual taxpayer identification number or your EIN in order to open an online bank account. It allows you to open a bank account without an EIN while offering you almost the same benefits and financial protection that you would get from one of the big banks.
Each bank has its own fees, so once you settled on a couple of banks, you should compare their fees. This way, you will be able to arrange your budget accordingly.
Consider the ARM fees, the monthly fees, annual fees, or any other fees you may be charged with. Some banks may require a minimum deposit, so you should check that as well. Read our list of no minimum business checking accounts.
Now that you've narrowed down the banks that you can apply for, you must make sure that the features are exactly what you need. After all, you are probably paying monthly or annual fees for that bank account, so you'll want it to be worth your money.
Check with the extra features that it offers. For example, aside from the checking and the savings account, you might want to check for features that you would normally find at a credit union nowadays.
Most online banks make it easier for you to get a credit card as well, or accept credit card payments from clients. This should help improve the payment process for the company.
Now that you have found a bank that fits your bill and does not require a social security number, you may proceed to submit your application.
With Bonsai Cash, for example, you may open your account online, so you won't have to wait in any annoying lines. Other banks may need you to visit their brick-and-mortar branches.
Check their requirements and send in your application for a US bank account. Depending on the bank you go for, it may take anything from two seconds to 24 hours to get your approval.
Once you get the confirmation, you may use the bank account and its features in whatever way you see fit.
Every bank is different, so the answers might differ from one bank to another. That being said, here are some common questions along with their answers.
If you are an undocumented citizen living in the United States, then you may still open a bank account without an SSN. You can simply use your ITIN or passport to open the account.
If you have yet to arrive in the United States, you can start the process of opening an account in your own country. You just need to find a bank such as Bonsai that allows you to create an account online.
In most cases, immigration officers cannot gain access to your bank account by themselves, whether you have an SSN or not. You need to offer them explicit access for them to see your information.
Yes, nowadays, numerous banks allow you to open a business bank account online, and the account should be ready right away. With Bonsai Cash, for instance, it only takes a few minutes to create an account. You will need to check the business bank requirements for each institution.
Some banks will offer you the loan themselves, whereas others can connect you with partners that can offer the loan or credit. You may not need an SSN, but you may still be required to provide an ITIN number.
Regardless of the business entities that you go for, you do not always need to provide an SSN. With a number of banks, you can simply get away with your ITIN number. You simply need to do some research and find the bank that fits your needs the most.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?