How can I open an account in the U.S. without having to visit? Especially given the many travel restrictions at this time, it’s a question we are asked very frequently.
If you are not a U.S. citizen and live abroad but would like to know whether you have a chance of opening a bank account in the United States, this article offers detailed advice on how to accomplish it.
Who needs to open a U.S. Bank Account?
First, we have to admit that it is not easy to open an account in the U.S.A.
Some of the toughest banking laws in the world are in effect there. They require any bank or payment system to strictly comply with the Know Your Customer (KYC) policy and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation.
Therefore, you need to be clear and upfront from the beginning about the reasons for which you need an account in the U.S.A. Be ready to give a direct reply to this question in the application forms for opening an account, as well as when interviewed by bank managers.
In general, opening a bank account in the U.S.A. for foreign nationals is quite a complicated task due to the above-mentioned banking requirements. But don’t let it get you down, because applications from some categories of overseas citizens are accepted.
It will be quite easy for you to give the right answers if you frequently travel and have plans to move to the United States to study, work, or start your own business somehow connected with this jurisdiction. If you are from Latin America, you will also find that makes it easier as most banks focus on the LatAm markets. Europe is so-so, while Russia, Africa, Middle East and Asian passports or addresses will make the onboarding task more complicated.
It takes, though, a good deal of patience to break through all formalities. On the plus side, you’ll find that paperwork for US banks is relatively simple and straightforward compared to that of European or Caribbean banks. Also, scans are usually accepted so you don’t have to courier original documents (there may be exceptions of course).
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What can you do with your U.S. bank account?
With a U.S. bank account, you will have free access to your money and may avoid enormous international transfer fees if you do business in the U.S.A.
If you plan to work for a U.S. company as an employee or freelancer, you’ll have no problem having your income transferred directly from your employer to your account.
U.S. bank accounts generally offer somewhat higher returns on deposits than European or Asian credit organizations do.
It’s also much more convenient, faster, and secure to shop or get paid online from around the world by using a U.S. bank account.
Requirements set for individuals opening bank accounts in the U.S.A.
It should be noted that the requirements are not the same across all banks in the United States.. Nonetheless, here are the typical and most common requirements of U.S. banks:
- passport or another primary ID
- proof of address (e.g. paid utility bill)
- a startup deposit – the higher the better.
Besides, other relevant documents may be required by the bank:
- secondary identification document (for example, a driver’s license, a work permit, a student ID from a U.S. college or university)
- immigration documents
- bank reference statement from your local bank
- certificate of employment from your employer, U.S. or overseas
Apart from all the above, it is best if you have an address in the United States, where you will be able to receive correspondence from the bank. Please note: not all banks insist on this, but it will make things easier. It’s OK to use a friend’s address or one of the many virtual mailbox services that are available.
Is a physical address required to open a U.S. Bank Account?
Yes. As part of the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Program, banks require every account holder to have a physical address, which can be one’s permanent address, temporary residence, or business address.
So, how can you open a U.S. bank account if you don’t have a physical address in this country? There are several options:
- use the address of relatives, friends, or business associates who agree to provide you with such an address
- use a registered agent’s address if you are applying for a corporation or LLC
- use the address of a mail delivery service or virtual mailbox.
This list is given in descending order according to the degree of probability of their acceptance by the banks. That is, the most appropriate for remote opening of an account in the United States would be the address of an individual who is your relative, friend, or acquaintance.
We recommend that you contact our partners who provide for such purposes actual addresses that are not used by other legal entities and activities.
The procedure of opening a U.S. Bank Account by non-residents
This is what you need to do:
- find a bank or payment system in the U.S.A. that is flexible about opening accounts to foreigners remotely (not all banks or payment systems are)
- contact the bank or the payment system of your choice to learn more about the procedure and the required documents for opening an account; this should be done also because some banks do not allow online or e-mail submission of documents, but require you to hand in the documents in-person
- mail all required documents or deliver them in person
- arrange an interview with the bank manager (face to face or via the Internet), during which you will sign the necessary documents
- place the initial deposit into your account to activate it.
Requirements for opening a corporate account in the U.S.A.
To open a U.S. account for a company, first of all it should be a U.S. company.
In theory, yes it is possible to open accounts in the US for non-resident (foreign) companies. We have done it, even opening accounts for say Nevis or Panama companies. However in practise, it is very difficult and very high deposit levels are required. This works better at the private banking level if you have northwards of a few million.
It is much more straightforward to set up a new LLC, in Wyoming or Delaware for example, specially for the purposes of US banking. Don’t worry as passthrough taxation applies to LLCs so the tax accounting for this company will be very simple. It will simply serve as your U.S. “nominee” for bank account opening purposes.
You will need to provide the same list of documents as for opening a private account. But the papers need to refer to the shareholders and the people who will manage the account (if they are not the same person). Additionally, the following documents will be required:
- your company’s Articles of Incorporation and its Memorandum, if any
- proof of address
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) – this is a US tax ID number, equivalent to a Social Security number but for companies.
- business address, i.e. the address where the company’s office will be located, where any information from state authorities will be received
- initial deposit
- description of the type and amount of expected cash flows.
In summary, then, here are three simple tips for opening a U.S. corporate account:
- Register your own company in the U.S.A. to open a U.S. corporate account. This will be easier and more appropriate from the standpoint of U.S. law than finding a bank that will open an account for a foreign company without any tax number.
- Open a local full-fledged company office in the U.S. for your already existing overseas business. Essentially, your representative office will be a separate legal entity (LLC) in this country. In this case, you will not have difficulties with opening an account in one of the banks in the U.S.A.
- Consider opening a merchant account with one of the U.S. payment systems if you need e-commerce services.
As you can see, it is possible to open an account in the United States remotely – either for an individual or for a legal entity. Needless to say, it is important that applicants are not subject to sanctions, have not been previously charged criminally, and meet all the requirements described above.
InternationalWealth’s longstanding cousins stateside are constantly working for foreign entities and individuals seeking to remotely open accounts with banks and payment systems in the United States. This is done both remotely and in person. The ultimate success is a matter of their professional skills, proper paperwork, and profound knowledge of the local financial market.
So, you are welcome to contact us for FREE advice after you get a clear vision of your goals for opening an account in the United States. We will advise you on the best the state, bank, or payment system matching specifically your aims and objectives. You will get the most out of your time and money and will not have to worry about the challenges of opening an account in the U.S.A. on your own.
To book a free one-on-one consultation about your selection of a bank or a payment system and account opening in the U.S.A., please contact us. at email@example.com or by any convenient way indicated on this page.
We guarantee our professionalism and confidentiality regarding the information we receive from you.
Do I have to visit the U.S. to open a bank account?
No, it’s not necessary. International Wealth professionals can help you open US bank accounts without having to leave your own country.
To simplify the account opening procedure, we recommend opening an account in the U.S. through professional agents. This will expedite the procedure and improve your chances of success.
What documents do I need to submit to open a U.S. account remotely?
First and foremost, a passport or primary ID, and proof of your address. Other documents may be requested as well and should be promptly submitted. All documents should normally be issued in English, although many U.S. banks also accept documents in Spanish.
Why do I need a U.S. account?
First, for transactions in USD, because it is cheaper and faster to do it from such an account. This is usually a useful tip for those who often travel to the U.S. on business, intend to settle there (for permanent or temporary residence), and/or take some permanent or temporary job.
It is also essential for students who are going to study in the U.S.A., as well as freelancers who have a lot of orders in the U.S.A. or like to work with U.S. payment systems like Stripe, PayPal, Square etc.
Entrepreneurs who work in the U.S.A. also need to open their U.S. private or corporate accounts.