Business account opening

In principle, a business account is recommended for all self-employed persons in order to cleanly separate business and private payment transactions. This also applies to part-time workers, whose business may still have a manageable size. The offers for business accounts are as varied as for private current accounts. Before you open an account, you should therefore compare the conditions very closely.

Who needs a business account?

Especially for self-employed people who are still at the very beginning of their professional development, it is often not clear why they should open a separate account for their business payment transactions. If you don’t have regular income yet, you can book occasional incoming payments very well through your private account. Especially part-timers like to use the private account to save themselves the effort of opening a company account, if they don’t know yet whether their business idea is crowned with success in the long run and if they expand their independence.

Nevertheless, regardless of the extent of their self-employment, tradespeople and freelancers should pay attention from the outset to separating the business and private deposits and withdrawals. This will make it easier for you to settle your own accounts, as it will give you a better overview of the development of your business. It is also easier for the tax office to check your accounts.

As a self-employed person, you can in principle open a company account or use an additional private checking account. This is particularly useful if the scope of your business activities is still manageable. A company account may open freelancers and tradesmen as well as enterprises. These include above all the civil-law partnership, the limited liability company, the limited liability company, the public limited company, the general partnership and the limited partnership.

Who is obliged to open a business account?

There are some legal forms that are legally obliged to open a separate company account for their operational payment transactions. These include, in particular, the legal forms with a limitation of liability such as the entrepreneurial company with a limited liability, the limited liability company or the stock corporation. For all other legal forms this legal regulation does not exist.

The limited liability company forms are corporations. They have their own legal personality and are only legally capable of acting as a company if the founding capital has been paid into the company account and if the payment has been confirmed by the notary. In addition, the entry in the commercial register must be completed. Against this background, the opening of a company account is of particular importance in these legal forms, as it is in principle part of the establishment.

What should I pay attention to when choosing a business account?

Before you decide on a bank, you should take a close look at the conditions. As you are likely to want to use your business account for a long time, it should fit your needs. Therefore, first consider what services your account should provide. Most self-employed people, for example, attach great importance to online banking and an EC card. A credit card can be dispensable, a overdraft facility or an overdraft facility does not have to be granted to self-employed persons at the outset. On the other hand, a branch of the bank near your place of residence can be very interesting if you occasionally want personal advice.

Once you have determined what is important to you with your business account, look at the conditions of the providers near you or on the Internet. Pay particular attention to the charges for maintaining the account and for making transfers with and without a receipt. Check the interest rate on the overdraft facility if you want to set up a credit line for your account. Take a close look at whether your preferred bank offers corporate accounts for any legal form or whether there are exceptions. Analyze the terms and conditions of corporate financing so that you are well prepared when needed.

Based on this information, it should be quite easy to find the right corporate account. In an online comparison, these data are, by the way, compiled quite clearly and easily understandable, so that you can see at a glance which bank requires which conditions.

What documents do you need to open an account?

You will need some documents to open your business account. They vary slightly from bank to bank. It also depends on the legal form of your business which documents you need to present. It is best to ask your bank for the required documents in advance. This will save you two ways if you do not have all the necessary information at your first appointment with your bank advisor. The actual application for opening an account is made online at most banks. If this is not desired, arrange a personal appointment with a bank advisor.

One of the most important documents for opening an account is your identity card. It serves to establish your identity. As an alternative to an identity card, a passport is usually also recognised. Your identity card contains all the important personal data that the bank needs from you. This includes your surname and first name, address, place of birth, size, eye colour and nationality.

The second important document is the Schufa information. The Schufa documents all incidents about you that are of any relevance for loans and other payment obligations. At best, your Schufa is flawless, that is, there are no negative entries. Such negative data includes, above all, reminder and enforcement notices or other information that suggests that you have not fulfilled your payment obligations in accordance with the contract.

Proof of income is also required by some banks. This is especially true if you go into business for yourself on a part-time basis. In most cases, the last three statements of wages or salaries are sufficient. If you are self-employed and already receive income, you should of course also provide proof of this. This may even require a tax assessment. If your company has been on the market for some time, the bank may require the last balance sheets and profit and loss accounts. Under certain circumstances, a surplus income statement can be requested. Together with the latest statements of account at your previous bank, such documents serve to prove your creditworthiness. This is particularly important if you want to apply for a loan or set up an overdraft facility for your account.

As a trader, you must submit your business registration, and the tax number of the tax office may also be requested. If you set up a corporation such as a GmbH or an entrepreneurial company with limited liability, it is essential that you bring the articles of association with you when opening an account.

The most important documents for opening a business account:

  • Identity card/passport
  • Schufa information
  • Proof of income (if applicable)
  • If applicable, balance sheets/profit and loss accounts
  • If applicable, last account statements of the previous bank
  • Business registration, if applicable
  • Tax number of the tax office if applicable
  • Possible articles of association (e.g. for a GmbH or UG (limited liability))

How long does it take to open a business account?

If you submit your application online, you will usually receive a legitimation request a few business days later. This is often done using the PostIdent procedure, some banks also offer the faster VideoIdent procedure. It takes a few more working days for the account to be opened and for you to receive all the access data after authentication. On average, you should expect two weeks before you can use your account to its full extent.

Conclusion: A business account makes sense for all self-employed persons

Even if the volume of your business is still manageable, you should separate your business payment transactions from your private processes. Open a business account for this purpose. If you still generate little income, your company account can be a private current account.

Some banks even offer free business accounts, the services are sufficient for most self-employed people at the beginning of their activity. If you want comprehensive personal advice, a company account with a local branch bank is usually the better choice, even if the costs of account management are somewhat higher.

You should allow up to two weeks for your account to open before it can be fully used. You can speed up the process by submitting all the necessary documents for the bank at the first appointment.

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