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Personal Loans

Personal Loan Documentation: What Do You Need for a Loan?

Personal loans are one of the fastest forms of financing you can get, making them perfect for unexpected expenses. Many lenders can turn around a loan agreement in as little as one or two business days, but their underwriting processes are quite thorough.

If you want your personal loan funds as soon as possible, it’s important to have your personal loan documents organized before you submit your application. This guide will walk you through what loan documents you should gather.

Documents required for a personal loan

Most lenders require the same basic information and financial documentation to evaluate an applicant. If you’re planning to apply for a personal loan, here’s what you should have on hand.

Most lenders will request the following. Keep reading for more about each item in the tables below.

2 forms of identificationValid driver’s license

U.S. passport

Birth certificate

State-issued ID card

Citizenship certificate

Military ID

Utility bills (with an address matching that on your ID or license)
Proof of addressGarbage, utility, cable, water, gas or electricity bill

Voter registration

Vehicle registration

Bank statements

Rental agreement

Government-issued ID

Change of address form from USPS

Pay stubs

Auto, home, or renter’s insurance card
Proof of incomePay stubs

1099 forms

W-2 statements

Recent bank statements

Retirement disbursements

Alimony statements

Proof of child support

Documentation of rental income

Documentation of dividends

2 years of tax returns

Trust or pension statements

Proof of disability benefits


These sections include multiple examples of documents that work. You’ll only need to provide what your lender requires. (Don’t bring every single utility bill that comes to your home, in other words.) 

Government-issued ID

Your lender will need to verify your identity using some form of government-issued ID. In most cases, you will need at least two forms of identification ready.

We’ve listed several acceptable forms of ID in the table above.

Proof of address

Most lenders will also require proof of your physical address. Sometimes this is due to state laws and residency requirements, or sometimes it may be to determine your overall loan eligibility.

We’ve included ways to prove your address in the table above.

Proof of income

Your lender will want to verify your income to ensure you can make your payments and repay your debt—especially if you’re self-employed. To do this, it will look at your earnings and employment for at least the last two years.

It will also use this data to determine your debt-to-income ratio (DTI)—your current monthly debts relative to your income—to gauge how much debt you should be able to afford. Most lenders want to see a DTI of 43% or lower before approving your loan application.

We’ve listed several documents your lender might accept to prove your income in the table above.

The following are not considered income:

  • Business income 
  • Inconsistent dividend or stock income
  • Equity gains
  • Signing bonus
  • Relocation allotments


The list of acceptable documents might seem overwhelming, but you likely won’t need every document we listed. Keep in mind: The more income you can prove, the better your chances of being approved for the loan you want.

What else do you need to apply for a personal loan?

Most lenders require photo identification, proof of address, and proof of income, regardless of the loan you’re applying for or your financial qualifications. 

In some cases—if you lack a strong credit history, for example—you might also need the following documents to qualify for your loan.

Proof of assetsBank account statements

Investment account statements (e.g., 401(k) or IRA)

Brokerage account statements

Property deeds

Car titles

Stocks and bonds
Proof of financial responsibility Employment contract

Proof of payment of tuition

Documentation of payment for child care

Statement showing payment of medical bills

Record of cell phone payments

Home, auto, life, or renter’s insurance statements

Proof of utility payments

Record of housing payments

Documentation of medical insurance payments

Statement showing bank account deposits

Proof of assets

A lender may want to see evidence of your assets—especially liquid ones you can easily convert to cash in case you fall behind on your loan. 

Proof of assets is more often required on unsecured loans (loans that aren’t backed with collateral, as a mortgage or car loan is).

The table above lists several documents that can help lenders verify your assets.

Proof of financial responsibility

If you don’t yet have a strong credit history, you may need to prove your ability to manage finances responsibly.

To do this, you can provide your lender with the documents listed in the table above.

Questions you’ll need to answer

In addition to requiring various forms of documentation, most personal loan lenders will ask several questions to assess your finances and ability to repay the loan. The following are questions you might need to answer.

What is your credit score?

Your credit score reflects your risk and the likelihood you’ll stay current on your loan payments. It’s helpful to know your score before applying for a personal loan. Knowing your score can help you determine whether you should take steps to improve it and understand what interest rates are fair for your credit score.

Once you’re prequalified, your lender will run a check on your credit report to verify your score before underwriting your loan.

As a general rule, good credit scores qualify you for more loans at lower interest rates. Low credit scores do the opposite.

How do you plan to use the funds?

Your lender might want to know what you plan to use the funds for. You can use personal loans for almost anything, but most lenders have limitations in place to protect themselves from added risk.

For example, many lenders won’t allow borrowers to use personal loan funds to pay off student loan debt. They might have student loan programs for those purposes. Others may use your intended purpose to determine your interest rate, loan amount, and other terms.

Documentation for specific situations

If you have a unique situation that gives the lender pause, it might require additional documentation to support your loan application. These documents will likely go through manual underwriting to determine eligibility for the loan, which results in a longer waiting period to get the funds if you’re approved.

If you lack credit history

When you don’t have any credit history, the lender can’t be sure whether you’re a reliable borrower. 

But certain personal loan lenders specialize in borrowers with poor or little to no credit, and they’ll ask for documents that support the fact that you’re reliable. This may include the examples of proof of financial responsibility we listed in the table above.

If you’re applying with a cosigner

If you apply with a cosigner, both of you might need to supply the documentation we described above, as well as proof of your relationship to the cosigner.

If you’re self-employed

Self-employed borrowers applying for personal loans have additional documentation requirements. The self-employed borrower needs to prove their income. They may be able to do this with the following documentation:

  • Financial statements
  • Bank statements
  • 1099s, if applicable
  • Tax returns
  • Proof of recent income, such as a copy of a deposited check or invoice alongside a bank statement to verify it was deposited. 

Most lenders require income to be earned for more than a full calendar year to take the income into account. 

Have nontraditional or self-employment income? Here’s our expert’s advice

Erin Kinkade


If you’re self-employed, be prepared to provide 1099s from the past two years, employment contacts, tax return statements from the past two years, and bank statements. If you make nontraditional income—e.g., retired folks or those with disabilities that prevent them from working—be prepared to show applicable sources of income, such as IRA withdrawals, pension payments or pay stubs, and Social Security statements. In both cases, you may need to take extra steps for approval. It might take longer to obtain the funds, so be patient and plan for extra time. 

If you’re a visa holder

Visa holders must often provide visa documentation in addition to the typical requirements. You may need to prove the visa doesn’t expire before your loan term ends. 

Get organized before applying

Getting your paperwork in order is critical before applying for a personal loan. It can help ensure your application is successful while speeding up the process.

Here are our tips to do that.

Keep a separate folder for documents

The documentation you need to provide to the lender comes from a variety of sources, so keeping it in a single place can help. Make copies of originals. 

Create digital files 

It’s helpful to have documents in a single online folder. Upload any paper documentation you’ve collected, and download any online files you can find. Having all the digital documents in a single place means you can more easily submit them to the lender together. This can help the lender process your loan faster and disburse the funds sooner. 

Update your budget

Don’t forget to consider how taking out a personal loan will affect your budget. Use our personal loan calculator to determine your monthly payment and interest costs, so you can see how much you can afford to borrow.

How to apply for your personal loan

When you have all your documents together, the application process is a breeze. Here are  the steps—and when you can expect to provide documentation. 

Fill out the application 

You’ll fill out the application with basic information about yourself, including your income, housing payment, and other details the lender asks for. Make sure the information you provide can be verified with the documents you’ve collected.

Our expert advises

Erin Kinkade


Remember: Applying with multiple lenders within a 45-day time frame will count as a single credit inquiry on your credit report. I recommend taking time to shop around for the best terms.

Select your loan 

For many lenders, you may see a decision within minutes. Many online lenders will show you several loan options for your situation. They may have different terms, APRs, and corresponding monthly payments. If you’ve already done your budget, it will be easier to determine which would work best. 

Supply documentation

After you’ve selected the loan that works for you, you’ll upload documentation that supports what you filled out in the application process. If you already have digital files, this is a quick process. 

Sign your loan 

After the lender verifies your information, you’ll sign the promissory note and accept the loan terms. Verifying your documentation can take a few days. 

Get your funds

Once you’ve signed your loan and verified your documentation, let the lender know where to send your funds. Many lenders will deposit funds in your account within 24 hours. 

Applying is often quick and painless, especially if you’ve already prepared your personal loan documentation.