How to Set Up Direct Deposit

Direct deposit automatically puts recurring payments into your checking or savings account. You can set up direct deposit for your paychecks or income from investment, retirement and government sources.

Whom to Contact

The payer, or entity making the payments to you, can give you instructions for establishing direct deposit. Banks generally have information for setting up direct deposit on their website. You can also visit or call your bank.

Direct Deposit Form

Your bank may have a direct deposit authorization form that you can fill out and give to the payer. A separate form may apply to setting up direct deposit for paychecks and other income, such as investment and retirement income.

The bank might not require you to fill out an authorization form for direct deposit by government entities. For example, you can sign up online for direct deposit of federal benefits, such as Social Security, via the United States Treasury Go Direct website or by calling the agency's toll-free number. You may be able to sign up for direct deposit of your state unemployment benefits by phone.

If you prefer not to sign up for your federal benefits online or by phone, you can fill out the direct deposit form on Go Direct's website. This option is available for only certain types of federal benefits, such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and railroad retirement. Mail the completed form to the Go Direct processing center printed on the form. For direct deposit of federal benefits that are not handled by Go Direct, such as military and veterans benefits, contact the paying agency for instructions on signing up.

Bank Account Information

Your bank account and routing numbers are essential because they tell the bank in which account to deposit the funds. You can get your bank account and routing numbers from your bank checks or account statements. For a savings account, your routing number might differ from what is shown on your deposit slips, so contact your bank for clarification if necessary.

Voided Check

For direct deposit into your checking account, you must typically attach a voided check to your direct deposit form. The check reveals the correct account and routing numbers. If the payer enters the numbers printed on the check, your direct deposit transaction should go smoothly. Otherwise, there may be payment delays.

Depending on the bank, your direct deposit may take effect within one or two pay periods, because the information has to be verified beforehand.