What Documents Do You Need To Start Working?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 6, 2022

Published November 2, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While starting a new job is exciting, the process also comes with some requirements you’ll need to take care of before you begin. For example, you might have to fill out new-hire paperwork as well as go through the company's onboarding process. Further, new hires will also have to provide certain documents for various purposes.

In this article, we will take a look at nine documents you might need to produce before you start your brand new job.

Why are documents required to start working?

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Companies need to follow certain rules and regulations when they hire new employees. The company is responsible for withholding and paying taxes on the wages paid, maintaining documentation of your income and handling any legal issues that may arise. Employers are also responsible for ensuring that all employees they hire have legal authorization to work.

When you provide the required documents, the company's HR representative verifies you are who you claim to be and that you're able to work legally in the country. They maintain copies of the documents in case the company ever faces legal action and needs to show proof of proper hiring practices. Required documents may also show how much tax to withhold from an employee's pay and include bank details for direct deposit.

Related: Tips for Your First Day of Work

9 documents you need to start your new job

The required documents can vary by state, industry and employer, but these nine are among the most common required documents:

1. Identification

Employees need to affirm their identity by providing certain documents to employers. Some identification documents verify both identity and eligibility, while others do one or the other. Some of the most commonly used documents that verify both employment eligibility and identity include a U.S. passport and an employment authorization card. Employees from outside the U.S. can also provide a foreign passport that includes an I-551 stamp or form I-94, a permanent resident card or an alien registration receipt card. All documents must be the originals and be current.

Commonly used documents to verify identity include a driver's license or government-issued ID card, military card, Native American tribal document and voter registration card. Students or employees who are under the age of 18 may be able to use school ID cards, health care records and school records to verify their identity. A Social Security card, birth certificate, resident citizen or U.S. citizen ID card and Native American tribal document can all verify employment eligibility for an individual.

Related: 2 Forms of ID for a Job Interview and Documents To Start a Job

2. Form W-4

Form W-4 is an Internal Revenue Service tax form that an employee completes to indicate their individual tax situation, including any applicable exemptions. The form requests that the employee list any allowances or exemptions. Each allowance claimed on the form adjusts the employee's tax status and allows the employer to determine how much of the salary to withhold for tax purposes. Examples of allowances include the employee, their spouse, any dependents and any other miscellaneous options.

Although an employer doesn't supply the Form W-4 to the IRS, the employee fills it out to assist in the proper calculation of tax withholding and requirements. Payroll professionals use the information provided on the form to determine how much tax to withhold and pay on behalf of the employee for each tax year. Employees can file a new W-4 if their life situation changes, such as if they get married or divorced, have a child or obtain another source of income.

Related: Guide to Additional Amount Withheld and Form W-4

3. Form I-9

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires employers to obtain a Form I-9 from every eligible employee they hire. The form and documents must be presented to the employer within three business days of the first day employment begins. If an employee can't present the required information within three days, they can present a receipt for the application of the document and must provide the original documents within 90 days.

Related: Guide to the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form

4. Bank account details

Many employers offer direct deposit of paychecks, which means the employer deposits funds directly into the employee's bank account. Direct deposit can save employers money, reduce the risk of lost or stolen checks, maintain better control over payroll processes and ensure that employees receive their pay on time, even if they aren't at work on payday.

If an employer offers this pay option, one of the required documents when starting a position with that company is the new hire's bank account information. They can provide a voided check that includes the account and routing numbers. Some employers provide a direct deposit form that the new hire can fill in with their bank details.

Related: Direct Deposit: What It Is and How To Use It

5. Work permit

Non-citizens can legally work in the U.S. as long as they hold authorization. If a company hires someone who isn't a U.S. citizen, they must confirm that the individual has a permit to work in the country. The two main types of work permits include Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) and green cards. The EAD shows an individual's qualification to work in the U.S. who does not have a green card or conditional residency status. The green card provides permanent residence in the country.

Related: 10 Types of Work Visas and Eligibility Requirements

6. Criminal record

When completing a job application, you may have answered questions about your criminal history. Some companies won't or can't hire individuals who have committed certain crimes. When legal history is a concern, such as in positions that involve working with children or other vulnerable population groups, an employer may request a candidate's criminal history. You can obtain a copy of your history by working with your local parole or probation office. Reviewing the history before a potential employer requests it can ensure that all the information is accurate or gives you time to get it corrected.

Related: Job Search Guide for People with Convictions

7. Vaccination records

Although medical records are protected by privacy laws, some employers can request that new hires provide vaccination records. Working in certain industries may require employees to be vaccinated to protect themselves and those with whom they interact and serve. For example, many health care companies have vaccination requirements in effect to protect vulnerable patients from contracting illnesses from unvaccinated staff.

Related: The Future of Work During and After COVID-19

8. Credit report

In some states, employers can pull and review credit reports for potential hires. Many companies in the financial industry pull credit reports. You typically have to give consent for an organization to pull your credit history. Before you get to this stage in the hiring process, you may want to review your credit report to ensure that it's accurate. If you find anything incorrect on the report, you can follow the required process to get items removed or resolved.

Related: The Hiring Process: What To Expect at Every Stage

9. Other company-specific documents

A company may also require new hires to fill out organization-specific paperwork, such as:

  • A non-disclosure agreement: This prevents employees from revealing private information about the company during and after employment.

  • Employee handbook: This document includes company policies, such as time off, dress and grooming standards, attendance rules and other related topics.

  • Emergency contact information: This includes information for who the company can reach if something happened to the new hire while at work.

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