Are You Eligible? The Must-Have Documents for Securing a Business Loan

Obtaining a business loan is an important financial decision for any entrepreneur or business owner. Whether you need funding to start a new venture or expand an existing company, securing financing can be challenging without proper documentation. Lenders want proof that you are creditworthy and that your business idea is viable. While requirements vary by lender, there are key documents needed to increase your chances of qualifying for a business loan.

Having these materials prepared in advance shows you are organized and serious about your business goals. It also demonstrates your ability to manage financial responsibilities. With the right paperwork, you can present a convincing case that will help secure the funding you need to succeed. This guide will walk through the must-have documents and information to have ready when seeking a business loan.

Personal Identification

When applying for a business loan, lenders will require personal identification documents to verify your identity and assess your creditworthiness. The main forms of ID you’ll need include:

  • Driver’s license – This is the most common form of government-issued photo ID. Make sure yours is current and not expired.

  • Passport – A passport can serve as primary proof of identification. Ensure it is not expired and has your legal name matching your other documents.

  • Social Security card – Lenders will need your social security number to pull your credit reports. Provide your signed social security card, not just the number.

  • Permanent resident card – If you are not a U.S. citizen, provide your signed permanent resident card as proof you can legally reside and work in the U.S.

  • Military ID – If you served in the military, official military IDs like a VA card are accepted.

When applying in person, have your original ID documents available for the lender to review and verify. For online applications, you will need to provide scanned or photographed copies. Make sure your ID is clearly visible and zoom in on any fine print. Keep copies of these documents safe as lenders may request them again later in the application process. Valid personal identification is key for qualifying for business financing.

Business Formation Documents

To qualify for a business loan, lenders will want to see documentation that proves your business is legally formed and registered. This provides validity and reassurance that they are lending to an established entity.

The specific business formation documents required depend on your business structure:

Sole Proprietorship

If you are a sole proprietor, you will need to provide:

  • Fictitious business name filing if you use a DBA
  • Business licenses and tax permits


For partnerships, you’ll need:

  • Partnership agreement
  • Fictitious business name filing if you use a DBA
  • Business licenses and tax permits


Corporations must provide:

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Corporate bylaws and meeting minutes
  • Statement of information filing
  • Fictitious business name filing if you use a DBA
  • Business licenses and tax permits

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

If you have an LLC, you’ll need:

  • Articles of organization
  • Operating agreement
  • Statement of information filing
  • Fictitious business name filing if you use a DBA
  • Business licenses and tax permits

Having these official documents proves to lenders that you have legally registered your business and are authorized to operate. It provides them confidence in lending to an established business entity. Be sure to have all applicable formation documents ready when applying.

Business Licenses and Permits

Applying for a business loan often requires that you have the proper licenses and permits for your business. This shows lenders that you have legally registered your business and are authorized to operate. The specific licenses and permits you’ll need vary based on your location and the industry your business is in.

Some of the common licenses and permits you may need when applying for a small business loan include:

  • Business license – Most states and local municipalities require businesses to register and obtain a general business license to legally operate within that jurisdiction. This is sometimes referred to as a tax registration certificate.

  • Fictitious name filing – If you are operating under a name different than your personal name, you’ll need to file for a fictitious business name, also known as a DBA (doing business as). This registers your business name.

  • Sales tax permit – If you will be collecting sales tax, you need a sales tax permit. This is required in most states and some localities.

  • Food service permit – For restaurants, caterers, food trucks and any food service businesses, you’ll need permits from your local health department.

  • Liquor license – If you’ll be serving or selling alcohol, you need the proper liquor licensing.

  • Trade licenses – Certain regulated industries like construction, beauty services and healthcare require trade licenses and certifications to legally operate.

Having all the necessary licenses and permits shows lenders you’ve checked the boxes and met the minimum legal requirements to operate your business. Be sure to have current copies handy when applying for small business financing.

Detailed Business Plan

A comprehensive business plan is one of the most important documents you’ll need when applying for a business loan. This plan should provide a detailed overview of your company and its financial projections, serving as the roadmap for your business’s growth and success.

Your business plan should include the following key sections:

Executive Summary

Provide a high-level overview of your company, products/services, objectives and projected growth. This summary should be about 1-2 pages highlighting the key points of your plan.

Company Description

Give background on your company’s history, location, legal structure, management team and organizational structure. Outline your core products/services.

Market Analysis

Research your industry trends, target customers, and competitive landscape. Identify your competitive advantage. Provide data on market size and growth projections.

Products & Services

Give in-depth descriptions of your product/service offerings. Outline any proprietary features, intellectual property, or patents held. Provide pricing structures.

Marketing Strategy

Detail how you will promote, advertise to and retain customers. Provide sales and distribution methods. Outline online, print and other marketing tactics.

Operations Plan

Describe day-to-day processes and logistics for delivering products/services to customers. Outline business facilities, equipment, and human resources needs.

Management Team

Provide backgrounds on key team members and roles. Highlight experience and skills related to your industry. Identify any gaps needing external support.

Financial Plan

Include past financial statements, detailed projections (profit/loss, cashflow, balance sheet) for the next 1-3 years, and a breakeven analysis. Provide details on key assumptions used.

Milestones & Metrics

Outline key objectives, milestones, and performance metrics to track progress. Set targets for customer acquisition, revenue, costs, and other drivers.

Your lender will want to see a well-researched, detailed plan that instills confidence your business has the ability to repay the loan. Take the time to create a polished, professional business plan. This document can make or break your financing request.

Financial Statements

Financial statements provide lenders with a detailed look at the financial health and performance of your business. These documents help lenders assess your company’s ability to repay the loan.


Preparing the necessary documentation for a business loan application is a crucial step that can make or break your chances of getting approved. By taking the time to gather all of the required personal identification, business formation records, licenses, financial statements, and other supporting materials, you demonstrate to lenders that you have thoroughly thought through your business idea and have planned for success.  

While it may seem tedious to collect and organize these documents, having your paperwork in order gives lenders confidence that you understand the responsibilities and challenges of business ownership. It shows you have the organizational skills necessary to manage the day-to-day operations of a company. Most importantly, a complete application allows lenders to thoroughly evaluate the viability and profit potential of your venture.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to loan documentation. Make sure you cross every “t” and dot every “i”. Having meticulous records and following instructions to the letter will maximize your chances of making it through the selective loan approval process. The effort you put into your application documents will pay dividends by convincing lenders you are truly prepared to take your business to the next level.

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