When applying for a personal loan, the lender you choose sets the criteria for what documentation you’ll need. But fortunately, the documentation required is usually pretty similar. Being prepared to answer questions and provide the necessary documentation can make the difference between a long and difficult loan process or a quick and easy one. To help ensure you’re prepared, we’ve put together a list of personal loan documents and information your lender may require.

Questions you should be prepared to answer

1. What do you need to borrow this money for?

While most lenders aren’t too concerned with exactly how you’ll use the loan, understanding its purpose may help the lender recommend the best loan product for your needs.

2. How much can you afford to borrow and for how long?

Ultimately, the lender will determine how much they are willing to lend based on an analysis of your financial health and a determination of what you can afford. However, you should go into the loan process with a solid idea of the payment you know you can afford and how long you’ll need to repay it. Don’t borrow more than you need, even if you’re approved to do so. Remember, you’re paying the lender a fee (via interest) on every penny you borrow.

Get pre-qualified

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

3. What is your credit score?

Once you’ve initiated the loan application process with a lender, they will do a hard pull of your credit score. However, before beginning, it is wise to know your credit score. If your credit score is not high enough to qualify, the lender may be able to tell you that up front and avoid another hard credit pull (which could make your score even worse).

Personal loan documents your lender may require

1. Loan application

Each lender will have its own loan application to initiate the loan process.

2. Proof of identity

Aside from obvious reasons like identity theft, lenders must be able to verify your identity to determine if you’re a United States citizen or permanent resident and if you’re at least 18 years of age. You’ll typically need to present two forms of identification, such as:

  • Driver’s liscense
  • Passport
  • State issued ID
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Birth certificate
  • Military ID

3. Employer and income verification

Unsecured personal loans are different than many other types of loans, like mortgages or auto loans, in that there is no collateral backing the loan. This increases the lender’s risk and makes it even more important for them to verify you have a steady source of income to repay the loan. You can usually verify your income with the following documents:

  • Paystubs (usually the last two)
  • Tax returns (usually the last two years)
  • W2s and 1099s (some lenders will ask for the last two years of W2s and 1099s in addition to, or in place of, tax returns)
  • Bank statements (usually at least two months)
  • Some lenders may ask for your employer’s contact information

4. Proof of address

Proof of your living situation can help a lender determine how stable your lifestyle is. You can usually use one of the following:

  • Utility bill
  • Lease or rental agreement
  • Proof of insurance on your home, lease/rental, or vehicle
  • Voter registration card

Get pre-qualified

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

In summary

Applying for a personal loan doesn’t have to be stressful. Be prepared and ready to answer questions, provide the required documentation, and you’ll likely have a smooth and easy experience borrowing the funds you need. But don’t forget, you won’t just owe the lender the amount you borrowed, you’ll also owe all of the interest that accrues during your repayment period, so be sure to shop around for the best lender offering you the best interest rate and the lowest fees.