If you’re self-employed and you require a personal loan, you may feel a bit let down by some eligibility requirements, especially if you have difficulty proving your income or the assets you may own. However, there are options available from traditional and non-traditional lenders offering personal loans to self-employed individuals.
In fact, some lenders may approve your application in under 48 hours, so there is no reason to feel pessimistic. The more you know about your options, along with how the process works and the documents you need, the better the chance is a lender will approve your application.
How can I get a personal loan if I’m self-employed?
If you are self-employed, you can get a personal loan in one of three ways. The first is through a specialist lender, who provides personal loans for self-employed people. You can also apply for a standard personal loan, if you can meet the documentation requirements as an employed person. If you cannot meet the requirements, you can also apply for a low doc loan, which requires fewer documents, although this type of loan is usually more expensive than a traditional loan.
You can find personal loans with terms ranging from three months to five years or more. You can also make monthly principal and interest repayments on your loan amount. Depending on your lender, you may be required to provide collateral as security for the loan.
Do I need to apply for a low doc loan?
The main reason you should apply for a low doc loan is if you are unable to meet the documentation requirements required by a standard personal loan. Low doc loans normally have higher rates and fees than standard loans, so you don’t want to apply unless it’s your only option. Keep in mind that for a standard personal loan, you usually need to provide at least two years of tax statements to qualify as a self-employed person.
What documentation do I need?
For self-employed applicants, lenders usually require some or all of the following documentation. Applying for a low doc loan may mean you don’t need some of these documents:
Tax returns. Be prepared to show the last two years of your personal and/or company tax returns. These help to prove any income you declare on your application.
Financial statements. These may include profit/loss statements to support the income you declare.
Proof of rental income. If you have income from rental properties, you can declare this with real estate statements or copies of your executed lease agreements.
Individual income return assessment (IR3). Make sure you have on hand your latest, confirmed, IR3 return, provided by the IRD . This shows tax information such as the amount of income tax you owe(d). Depending on the lender, you may need to provide this information for the last two years.
Recent bank statements. This includes statements showing your savings and business transactions, including statements of outstanding loans or credit cards you have with other lenders.
Company-specific information. If you own your own business, be prepared to provide information such as your company’s New Zealand business number (NZBN), address, etc.
Personal identification. Depending on the lender, this may be your New Zealand driver’s licence, passport or 18+ card. You either need to copy your ID and fax it to the lender, or scan it and attach the digital file to your application.
Are self-employed loans more expensive that standard personal loans?
As mentioned, low doc loans are usually more expensive than standard personal loans. This means you should try to meet the qualifications for a standard personal loan before you look at low doc loans.
Low doc loans require less documentation than traditional loans, which means a quicker and easier application process. However, low doc loans have higher rates and fees than standard personal loans, especially if you are dealing with a specialist lender. They also usually have fewer features and less flexibility than traditional loans.
Many banks and alternative lenders may offer loans that aren’t more expensive than standard loans to self-employed individuals. Make sure you compare all options and you are aware of exactly what is available before deciding to apply with a lender.
How can I compare my options?
The following factors play a part when comparing the loans offered by different lenders:
Interest rate. Make sure you know the difference between a fixed and variable interest rate. If you apply for a variable interest rate, check you can make the monthly repayments if the rate spikes upwards at any time.
Turnaround time. Depending on why you are applying for the loan, you may need your money disbursed within a certain timeframe. Make sure the lender you choose can provide your money within the time period you need.
Eligibility. Before applying for any loan, check the eligibility requirements. Avoid applying for too many loans within a short period of time, as lenders often consider you to be an irresponsible, high-risk borrower if you make frequent applications.
Application process. When comparing different lenders, be aware of the application process specific to each, and what difficulties you may face when applying.
Loan cost. Make sure you are aware of all the fees associated with each loan. This includes any one-off or ongoing fees.
Secured vs unsecured. Always check to see if the loan you are considering is secured or unsecured. In other words, check whether the lender requires you to put up any collateral as security for the loan. Security can include assets such as your home or business equity.
Frequently asked questions
This depends on several factors, such as your particular lender; your requested loan amount and how well you meet eligibility requirements. You can find out the minimum and maximum loan amounts offered by a lender by clicking through to the particular lender’s review page, using the table on this page.
Make sure you understand exactly why you need a loan and avoid becoming mired in too much debt. Avoid applying for loans if you don’t actually need them. Also, make sure you never apply for more money than you actually need.
First, check you that meet all eligibility and documentation requirements before applying for a loan. Secondly, consider having a guarantor sign off on your loan, which helps alleviate any hesitation on the part of the lender. Finally, you could file a joint application with another person, where you and the other party are equally responsible for the requested loan.
Elizabeth Barry is Finder's global fintech editor. She has written about finance for over five years and has been featured in a range of publications and media including Seven News, the ABC, Mamamia, Dynamic Business and Financy. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Technology Sydney. In 2017, she received the Highly Commended award for Best New Journalist at The Lizzies. Elizabeth has found writing about innovations in financial services to be her passion (which has surprised no one more than herself).
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