What Documents Do You Need to Apply for Business Loans

Applying for business loans can be a stepping stone to taking your business to the next level. However, the process involves presenting the right documents to prove your business’s worthiness and your ability to repay the loan. Understanding which documents you’ll need can streamline the application process and improve your chances of approval.

Business Plan

A comprehensive business plan is the foundation of any business loan. This document should outline your business model, market analysis, financial projections, and how you plan to use the loan. Lenders use your business plan to assess the viability and future profitability of your business. It’s not just about having a plan; it’s about showing that you have a clear direction and a solid strategy for growth.

Your business plan should also include details about your team, your business’s competitive advantage, and a marketing strategy. This depth of information helps lenders understand your industry positioning and how prepared you are to face potential challenges. The more detailed and well-thought-out your plan is, the more confidence lenders will have in your business.

Lantern by SoFi states, “You could receive money as soon as the same day you’re approved.”

Financial Statements and Records

Lenders will want to take a close look at your business’s financial health. This means you’ll need to provide up-to-date financial statements, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. These documents give lenders insight into your business’s revenue, expenses, profitability, and financial stability.

Additionally, providing bank statements for the last few months can offer lenders a snapshot of your day-to-day financial operations. These financial documents must be well-organized and accurate. They not only show your business’s current financial situation but also its financial history and trends over time.

Tax Returns

Both personal and business tax returns for the last two to three years are typically required when applying for business loans. These returns provide a clear picture of your business’s financial history and are used by lenders to verify income and assess your ability to repay the loan.

Make sure that your tax returns are complete and accurately filed. Any discrepancies between your tax returns and your financial statements can raise red flags for lenders, potentially jeopardizing your loan application. It’s also wise to have your accountant review all documents before submission to ensure everything is in order.

Ownership and Affiliations

You’ll need to provide documents that prove the ownership structure of your business. This includes any business licenses, articles of incorporation, and contracts or agreements that demonstrate the business’s legal structure and any partnerships or affiliations. Lenders require this information to understand who is responsible for the business and to ensure that they are entering into a legal agreement with the rightful owner(s).

For businesses with multiple owners or significant shareholders, you may also need to include a list of directors and possibly their personal financial information. This helps lenders assess the overall financial strength and stability of the business and its leadership.


If you’re applying for a secured business loan, you’ll need to provide details about the collateral you’re offering to back the loan. This could include real estate, equipment, inventory, or accounts receivable. Lenders require information on the collateral to evaluate its value and determine if it’s sufficient to cover the loan amount in case of default.

Documentation for collateral might include purchase agreements, appraisals, or financial statements specific to the assets being used as collateral. It’s important to have all the necessary paperwork ready and ensure that the collateral is accurately valued to support your loan application.

When applying for business loans, being prepared with the right documents is crucial. A well-crafted business plan, detailed financial statements, tax returns, proof of ownership, and collateral documents are all key components of a strong loan application. By gathering these documents in advance and ensuring they are accurate and comprehensive, you can streamline the application process and improve your chances of securing the funding your business needs to grow and succeed.

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