Illustrated by Chelsea Miller
Last Updated December 14, 2023

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a US-based institution which helps reduce risk to lenders, making it easier for small businesses like yours to get a loan.

Loans backed by the SBA ("SBA loans") provide many benefits to small businesses, including long repayment options with reasonable interest rates. They also help lenders by guaranteeing a portion of the loan. If the business can't pay it back, much of the loan can be covered by the SBA. This allows banks and credit unions to offer loans that could otherwise be considered too risky.

Because there are so many benefits to an SBA loan, there are a lot of requirements that must be met by the business (and its owners) in order to qualify for a loan. Documentation of each of these items is very important. Because loans are offered by individual lenders, your bank or credit union may also have additional requirements to qualify. Your financial institution can give you a complete list of specific requirements.

For now, here's a list of the minimum necessary documentation for any SBA loan.

To Meet the Basic Requirements for SBA Eligibility:

  • Be a for-profit business in an eligible industry.
  • Qualify as a "small business" under SBA guidelines.
  • Anyone who owns 20% or more of the business must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

Needed Documentation

The following is a list of the basic documentation required for SBA loans:

  • For 7(a) loans and microloans, you will need SBA Form 1919 or SBA Form 912. These document your personal background. Financial institutions usually provide their own forms for 504/CDC loans.
  • Anyone in company management will need to submit a resume.
  • A business plan.
  • A statement of how long you've been in business.
  • Your personal tax returns.
  • Your business tax returns.
  • You'll give approval for your bank or credit union to check your personal credit score.
  • Your business credit score, usually reported by FICO Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS).
  • A year's worth of personal bank statements.
  • A year's worth of business bank statements.
  • A Balance Sheet for your business. (Don't have a Balance Sheet? Learn how to make one here: Bookkeeping Coach.)
  • A Profit and Loss Statement for your business. (Don't have a P&L Statement? Learn how to make one here: Bookkeeping Coach.)
  • A copy of your business debt schedule.
  • A signed personal guarantee to pay back the loan with personal assets in the event of a default.
  • Legal documents, such as franchise agreements, business licenses, proof of incorporation or organization (for Corps and LLCs), leases, and third-party contracts.
  • You may also be asked to document the collateral you are willing to offer to help secure the loan.

For 504/CDC loans, there are a few additional requirements:

  • Documentation that at least 51% of the real estate purchased is owner-occupied.
  • Documentation of successfully reaching goals of job creation or public policy.
  • An environmental impact statement.
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