When you open a bank account, the bank needs you to prove that you are who you say you are. This normally involves providing a few documents, including government-issued photo ID. For most people, a driver’s license is the most obvious choice. However, if you don’t have a driver’s license, a passport — whether issued by the United States or another country — could serve the same purpose.
Indeed, a passport is an official government document that requires a thorough verification process.
But is your passport alone enough to open a bank account? Not enough. While this will allow you to meet the photo ID requirement, you will usually need to present other items to the bank to prove your current address and tax status. Learn more about the requirements for opening a bank account.
What do you need to open a bank account?
“The documentation needed to open an account or register with a bank or credit union can vary,” says Jaspreet Chawla, senior vice president of savings products at Navy Federal Credit Union. Your best bet is to call the financial institution you want to join to verify, or go online and see if there is a list of requirements.
In general, however, most financial institutions have similar requirements. For example, you will still need government-issued photo ID to prove your identity. Some banks even require two pieces of photo ID. Additionally, you may need to meet other requirements such as:
- Proof of address. Showing a utility bill or some type of mail with your name and current physical address is usually another key requirement. Note that banks probably won’t accept documents that use a PO Box address.
- Social Security number. You may need to show a social security card or just provide the number. Some banks or credit unions allow non-nationals to open an account using an individual tax identification number. Banks can use either of these numbers to report any interest earned on accounts to the IRS.
- Contact information. Banks will want to have your phone and email address on file to contact you. They may or may not require proof or some sort of authentication process to confirm.
Is the documentation different for online-only banks?
If you are looking to open an account with a digital-only bank, it’s basically the same process. “When opening an OceanFirst account online, the ID required is the same as that required to open the account in person,” said Christopher Maher, president and CEO of OceanFirst Bank in New York. Jersey.
The main difference is that you fill out electronic forms and upload documents and photos to the bank. You may then be asked to print, sign and send a form with your signature, although some banks allow you to sign digitally.
What other types of IDs could you provide to the bank?
If you don’t have a passport or driver’s license, there are still other forms of acceptable identification. For example, even if you are not a driver, your state Department of Motor Vehicles may issue you photo identification. Just keep in mind that the process involves bringing a birth certificate and/or other documents to the DMV.
Other types of acceptable photo ID may include a military-issued card or state government ID. “If you don’t have a driver’s license or passport, I recommend contacting the financial institution to see what other photo ID options meet their identification requirements,” says Chawla. “They will be best equipped to guide you in the right direction.”
Do you really need a bank account?
While some people get by without a bank account, having one can make your financial life easier. Plus, it can save you from having to pay fees for cashing checks or on prepaid debit cards.
“Having a bank account with a government-insured and regulated financial organization is part of a sound financial plan to safeguard and monitor funds,” Maher says.
Plus, it gives you a place to receive direct deposit paychecks or government payments, provides a debit card to use at ATMs and for shopping, and makes it easy to pay bills.
“Another great benefit of having a bank account is that you can track your expenses and manage your money from anywhere,” says Chawla. “Many banks or credit unions offer a suite of tools through online and mobile banking. This can include mobile check deposits, alerts and notifications, paperless statements, bill payments, and more. “