Establishing a business bank account is a crucial step for any entrepreneur. It is not just a formality but a fundamental aspect of your business’s financial health and legal compliance. Whether you are a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, a member of an LLC, or running a corporation, having a clear understanding of the process of setting up a business bank account can streamline your business operations and ensure compliance with regulations.

Reasons for Starting a Business Bank Account

There are several reasons to start a business bank account:

  1. Financial Organization: A dedicated business account helps in neatly segregating business transactions from personal ones. This separation is essential for clear and efficient financial record-keeping, making it easier to track business income and expenses.
  2. Legal and Tax Compliance: For incorporated businesses, a separate business bank account is often legally required to maintain the corporate veil. It also simplifies tax preparation by clearly delineating personal and business finances, aiding in accurate tax filings and potentially making audits less complicated.
  3. Credit History Building: A business bank account is the first step toward building a credit history for your business. This is vital for future business credit or loan applications, as it demonstrates financial responsibility and stability to lenders.
  4. Access to Additional Services: Business banking often provides access to other valuable services, such as business loans, lines of credit, and business credit cards, which can be instrumental in financing your business’s growth and operations.
  5. Convenience and Efficiency: Business banking services often include online banking, mobile banking, and other technological conveniences that can save time and improve the efficiency of financial management.
  6. Professionalism: Having a business bank account enhances the professionalism of your transactions. It allows you to accept payments and issue checks in your business’s name, which can significantly boost your business’s credibility with customers, vendors, and partners.
  7. Increased Spending Control: Business accounts frequently provide better tools and analytics for tracking and controlling spending, helping business owners make informed financial decisions.
  8. Preparation for Growth: Establishing a business account is a step towards scalability. As your business grows, having a solid financial foundation with a dedicated business banking relationship becomes increasingly important.

What Do I Need to Open a Business Bank Account?

When opening a business bank account in Ontario, the required documents and procedures vary based on business structure and institution. Here are some of the typical requirements:

Sole Proprietorship

For a sole proprietorship in Ontario, the process is relatively straightforward as this business structure is not legally separate from the owner.

  • Personal Identification: Valid government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, is required to confirm your identity.
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN): In Canada, the SIN is used instead of the SSN for tax and identification purposes.
  • Business Name Registration: If operating under a trade name (DBA – “Doing Business As”), you need to provide the registered business name document. In Ontario, this is obtained from the provincial government if you’re operating under a name other than your personal name.
  • Additional Documentation: Some banks may also request proof of your business, like recent invoices or a business plan, especially if the business is newly established.
  • Trade Name Registration (if applicable) 

Corporations

Corporations are legally separate entities and require more documentation.

  • Business Number (BN): Issued by the CRA for tax purposes.
  • Articles of Incorporation: These are your corporation’s founding documents, outlining basic details like the corporate name, structure, and purpose.
  • Government Identification: Piece of original, valid and current government-issued photo ID.
  • Business Owners: It may be required to provide name, address and occupation of all those owning your business.
  • Trade Name Registration (if applicable) 

Partnerships

For partnerships, banks require documents that prove the existence and structure of the partnership.

  • Business Number (BN): For tax purposes, as partnerships are required to file an annual information return.
  • Partnership Agreement: A legal document that outlines the nature of the business, the contributions of each partner, profit-sharing, and management responsibilities. Partnership/ownership information, including full ownership structure with names, addresses, occupations including employer names and addresses
  • Government Identification: Piece of original, valid and current government-issued photo ID.
  • Trade Name Registration (if applicable) 

In all cases, it’s advisable to contact the bank beforehand to confirm their specific requirements, as they can vary between institutions. Additionally, having your business and personal documentation organized will facilitate a smoother account opening process.

Choosing the Type of Business Bank Account You Want

Choosing the right type of business bank account is crucial as it can significantly impact your financial management and business operations. Here are some common types of business bank accounts and factors to consider when selecting the one that best suits your needs:

  1. Business Checking Account:
    • Primary Use: Ideal for handling day-to-day transactions such as paying bills, depositing sales revenue, and managing cash flow.
    • Key Features: Typically offers a significant number of transactions, easy access via checks, debit cards, and online banking. Some might offer interest on balances.
    • Considerations: Look for accounts with low or no monthly fees, a high number of free monthly transactions, and low charges for additional transactions.
  2. Business Savings Account:
    • Primary Use: Suitable for setting aside a portion of business income and earning interest on it.
    • Key Features: Generally offers higher interest rates compared to checking accounts but might have limited transaction capabilities.
    • Considerations: Ideal for businesses looking to build a reserve for future expenses or investments. Check for any minimum balance requirements and the ease of transferring funds between your checking and savings accounts.
  3. Merchant Services Account:
    • Primary Use: Necessary if your business accepts credit and debit card payments.
    • Key Features: Allows you to process card transactions; typically includes online payment processing and point-of-sale systems.
    • Considerations: Assess transaction fees, setup costs, and equipment requirements. Some banks offer bundled services with checking accounts.
  4. Business Credit Account:
    • Primary Use: Useful for managing business expenses, accessing short-term credit, and improving cash flow.
    • Key Features: Includes business credit cards and lines of credit.
    • Considerations: Look at interest rates, credit limits, rewards programs, and annual fees. A good option for businesses that need flexible spending options.

Which Bank is Best for Business Accounts?

Determining the best bank for business accounts depends on various factors related to your specific business needs, preferences, and goals. Here are some general criteria to consider when choosing a bank for your business account:

  1. Fees and Charges: Look for a bank that offers reasonable fees. Consider monthly maintenance fees, transaction fees, ATM fees, and any other potential charges.
  2. Account Types and Features: Assess if the bank offers the type of business account that suits your business – from basic checking accounts to more complex accounts with additional features like merchant services, payroll management, or high transaction limits.
  3. Online and Mobile Banking: A bank with robust online and mobile banking platforms can save you time and effort in managing your finances, especially if you handle most transactions digitally.
  4. Lending and Credit Options: Consider whether the bank offers business loans, lines of credit, and credit cards. Access to credit can be crucial for business growth and cash flow management.
  5. Customer Service and Support: Good customer service can be invaluable, especially if you run into issues with your account. Consider a bank that is known for its customer support, including the availability of a dedicated business banking manager.
  6. Branch and ATM Accessibility: If you prefer in-person banking or regularly deal with cash, consider a bank with convenient branch locations and a wide network of ATMs.
  7. Additional Business Services: Some banks offer additional services like business consulting, tax advice, and investment services. These can be valuable as your business grows.
  8. Reputation and Reliability: Research the bank’s reputation, particularly in handling business accounts. Stability and a good track record can be indicative of reliable service.
  9. Specialization in Your Industry: Some banks specialize in certain industries and understand specific business needs and challenges. This could be beneficial if your business falls into a niche market.
  10. Introductory Offers and Rewards: Look out for banks that offer introductory bonuses, rewards programs, or other incentives that can benefit your business.
  11. Scalability: Consider whether the bank can support your business as it grows. The ability to easily upgrade or add services as your business evolves.
  12. Ease of Integration: Check if the bank’s systems integrate smoothly with your existing accounting software or financial management tools.

Ultimately, the best bank for your business is one that aligns closely with your specific business requirements and offers the right balance of fees, services, and convenience. It’s often beneficial to consult with a financial advisor to help determine the best banking partner for your business’s unique needs.

Summary

Choosing the right bank and account type for your business needs careful consideration of your business’s size, structure, and transaction needs. It’s essential to consult with a financial advisor or accountant to ensure that you meet all legal requirements and make the best financial decision for your business. Setting up the right business bank account is not just about financial management but also about laying the groundwork for your business’s future growth and success.

If you are in search of guidance from a Toronto Incorporation Lawyer, contact us and see how our firm can help you.


The information provided above is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice. Every transaction or circumstance is unique, and obtaining specific legal advice is necessary to address your particular requirements. Therefore, if you have any legal questions, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer.