Key takeaways

  • Unsecured loans don't require collateral but still have an underwriting process and documentation requirements
  • You should have business documents on hand, like a current balance sheet and tax returns
  • You'll also need proof of identity and personal tax returns

When you apply for any loan, the lender needs information to figure out if you’re likely to repay the loan. When applying for an unsecured business loan, the lender will want details about both your business and you personally.

Unsecured business loans, especially from online lenders, usually have faster application processes than secured loans because you don’t have to deal with collateral. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t need paperwork. Having the right documents ready can help the process go smoothly.

Information about yourself

To get an unsecured loan or line of credit for your business, you’ll first need to prove that you’re the company’s owner and authorized to borrow on its behalf.

If you’re getting an unsecured loan, the lender will also likely check your personal credit and finances, especially if it’s demanding a personal guarantee for the loan.

Be ready to provide:

  • Proof of identity: A driver’s license or similar that also lists your birthdate. Every lender will want this to make sure you’re who you say you are.
  • Personal bank statements: This is less common, but they may ask if you’re offering a personal guarantee. It backs up your promise to pay the loan if your business can’t.
  • Tax returns: Few lenders will ask for these unless you have an unusual financial situation. But it doesn’t hurt to have them handy.
  • Social Security number: Banks will need your SSN to confirm your identity and link your loan with your credit report.  
  • Contact information: You may need to provide both home and business addresses as well as phone numbers.

Usually, the lender will check your credit, so you don’t have to have a report ready yourself. Almost every lender will check your personal credit, especially if you’re offering a personal guarantee. But since your personal credit is an important factor in determining your eligibility for small business loans, check your score yourself before applying.

Bankrate insight
A personal guarantee is a legally binding promise to use your personal assets to repay a loan if your business defaults on it. They’re common on both secured and unsecured loans.

Documents about your business

When you apply for unsecured business loans, lenders will want to take a look at your company’s financial situation and history. You’ll need to have these documents ready.

  • Business formation information: Details like your company’s employer identification number, ownership and business structure are required for every loan. This ensures your company is legitimate and you’re representing it properly.
  • Credit report: Like your personal credit report, the lender will obtain this on their own, but it’s worth checking your business credit before applying to see if there’s anything you can improve.
  • Financial statements: Lenders will commonly ask for the most recent bank and loan statements for your business to make sure you can afford the new loan. Most lenders want to see statements from a business bank account.
  • Balance sheet: Lenders usually ask for this document to make sure your company isn’t deep underwater in debt.
  • Tax returns: If you’ve been running your business for a while, lenders will ask for these to check long-term performance. A history of steady or rising revenue and profit is good.
  • Business plan and projections: Needing these documents is less common, but some lenders will ask, especially if you want a large or long-term loan or your company is quite new. Having a strong business plan and reasonable projections can help give the lender confidence that your company will become or remain profitable.

Bankrate insight
Banks often have stricter loan requirements than alternative lenders who operate exclusively online. You may need more documents to apply for an unsecured bank loan than you would with an alternative lender, so double-check the list of necessary paperwork before applying. Missing or incomplete documents will result in delays or possible rejection.

The bottom line

Though unsecured business loans are usually faster and easier to apply for than a secured loan, you’ll still need some paperwork ready when you apply. Have these documents ready so you can get through the application process quickly. Not meeting application requirements will delay the process. Also, be sure to shop around and compare multiple lenders. Doing so ensures you find the best unsecured business loan for your needs.

Frequently asked questions

  • You won’t need collateral for an unsecured loan, but applicants need to prove business ownership and supply a variety of financial documents. Prepare to present balance sheets, tax returns, bank statements, and more. You’ll also need to present identification documents for the applicant.
  • Yes. Many banks offer unsecured business loans. Keep in mind that they often have more requirements for approval than an alternative lender. The underwriting process is also longer.
  • Each lender has their own requirements, but documents that are typically requested include tax returns, balance sheets, business plan, credit report and financial statements.