You may be wondering “Can a foreigner open a U.S. bank account?” or “How do I open a bank account in the USA?”…
If you are looking to open a bank account in USA, you’re on the right page.
You don’t have to be an American or a U.S. resident alien to open a business bank account in USA.
As a non-resident, however, you likely won’t be able to open an account online. While you can sometimes open an account remotely if you have the right connections, banks in the U.S. generally want people to open accounts in person, so if you want to open a US bank account, you should start planning your trip now.
You will also need a handful of documents to open a bank account in USA.
Typically you need the following to open a U.S. bank account:
- Company registration paper (Articles of Organization for an LLC or Articles of Incorporation for a Corporation)
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) (if you’re a non-U.S. citizen and don’t have an SSN), and
- Government-issued ID (such as a passport or identity card)
As a foreigner, you have 3 options to open a bank account in USA:
- Visit the local branch of an international bank in your home country
- Open a bank account in person in USA
- Open a TransferWise bank account
If you’re looking to start your business in USA and get your EIN and ITIN to open a bank account in USA, email me at email@example.com to get started.
Let’s get into the details…
Advantages of Banking in USA
Before we talk about HOW you can open a U.S. bank account, let’s talk about the advantages of opening a U.S. bank account
Banking in the U.S. comes with a handful of benefits that make it an appealing place to open a bank account.
The largest benefit of opening a bank account in the US is that it’s an easy country to bank in. Setting up a bank account is rather simple even for non-residents, and sending money to other countries is relatively hassle-free.
First of all, the U.S. is well-connected in the global financial system, and other countries tend to trust money coming in from the U.S.
Further, people tend to ask fewer questions about transfers from the U.S. than, say, Argentina.
When you send money from the U.S., your transfer is usually cleared in the bank the next day.
Another benefit of banking in the U.S. is that you get $250,000 in deposit insurance from the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) – which is more than anywhere else in the world, including Singapore and the EU.
Even non-residents’ U.S. bank accounts are insured by the FDIC.
In fact, the U.S. generally treats foreigners the same as citizens in the world of banking – except when it comes to taxes. If you’re not a U.S. person for tax reasons, then you don’t need to pay tax on any interest you earn (please clarify this with an accountant about this).
Solution #1: Visit the local branch of an international bank in your home country
Your best option is to find a U.S. bank (such as Well Fargo or HSBC) that also has a location locally in your country that will allow you to open up a U.S. bank account.
There are a bunch of banks which are located in both the U.S. and abroad.
It’s always a good idea to have your bank close to you. You can open up a bank account in dollars in your home country, if possible, in a bank where they already know you.
First, you should call the bank ahead of time and determine what documents and personal identification you will need to open a bank account. Keep in mind that they may ask for your EIN or ITIN or both.
Then walk into the local branch in your country. Tell them you’re looking to open a U.S. bank account and that you just need them to identify you with your driver’s license or passport.
If one of the banks listed below is in the country where you live and the state where you formed an LLC or Corporation, you may be able to open a U.S. bank account from your home country.
Below are the banks with international branches as well as the states they are located in within the United States.
Wells Fargo is located in a large number of U.S. states; however, they are not in Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
Note: As a foreigner, Wells Fargo and HSBC may be the easiest to work with. Wells Fargo has the most locations in the U.S. with low minimum deposit and balance requirements and frequently no minimum fees.
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Utah.
Bank of America
Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New York, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia.
Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia.
Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.
If for some reason, you cannot open up your bank account in your country, continue reading…
Solution #2: Open a bank account in person in USA
Your next best option is to book a trip to United States to open a bank account.
You can open a U.S. business bank account by getting on a plane and flying to the U.S. You will need to open the bank account in the same state where you formed your LLC.
TD Bank and Wells Fargo are great choices for foreigners. TD Bank has locations on the east coast of the U.S. and Wells Fargo has locations all throughout the U.S.
However, those are just the larger banks. You can also open an bank account with any mid or small-size bank.
A good trick is that you can google:
“business checking account + [name of town that matches LLC address]”
“personal checking account + [name of town that matches LLC address]”
I definitely recommend calling the bank ahead of time and double-check on all the documents you will need since requirements may vary slightly.
The only difference for foreigners is that you need to bring 2 forms of identification (such as a foreign passport and a foreign driver’s license) and banks often want a “proof of address” for your LLC.
You should to call the bank ahead of time to see what they will accept, but they will usually accept your:
- Company registration paper (Articles of Organization for LLC or Articles of Incorporation for Corporation)
- EIN Confirmation Letter
- Billing statement or utility bill (like a phone bill), lease, or a credit card statement
Please keep in mind that banks are very different from one another. What one bank will accept as a proof of address, another bank may not. You will need to get on the phone, explain the situation about your company, let them know you are a non-US resident, and get specific details about what’s required before flying to the U.S. to open your LLC bank account.
Solution #3: Open a TransferWise bank account
If you don’t want to or can’t fly to the US to open a bank account, your third option is to open a TransferWise business account (called a “Borderless” account).
By having a TransferWise account, you will get a US bank account number and US bank routing number.
You can receive US Dollars (USD) to your LLC bank account, exchange to your currency, and then withdrawal to your local bank account.
Important Note About Needing an EIN
All U.S. banks require an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a bank account.
If you’re a U.S. citizen, you can get your EIN from the IRS website here
If you’re NOT a U.S. citizen and you do NOT have an SSN or ITIN, you get your EIN without SSN here.
What Documents Are Needed to Open a Business Bank Account in USA
You’ll need the following items to open your business bank account in USA
Company Registration Paper
This will be your LLC’s approved Articles of Organization, which might be called something different in your state (Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization).
Make sure you’ve received your EIN from the IRS before heading to the bank. You’ll need to show them a copy of your EIN in order to open your account.
If you’re a non-US citizen and you don’t have an SSN, you can learn how to get your EIN here.
Forms of Identification
You’ll need to bring in two forms of ID. One of these needs to be government-issued (such as a driver’s license). The second ID could be any of the following: credit/debit card, passport, voter’s registration, or utility bill.
Operating Agreement (for LLC) or Bylaws (for Corporation)
Most banks don’t need a copy of your Operating Agreement, but some banks may require it. I recommend bringing all additional LLC or Corporation documentation just to be safe.
Declaration of Beneficial Ownership
A Declaration of Beneficial Ownership form will be provided by the bank. It’s simply a document that discloses who the LLC owners are.
ITIN (If Don’t Have and Don’t Qualify for an ITIN)
Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the IRS used to open a U.S. bank account and file taxes. IRS issues ITIN to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN).
If you don’t have an SSN, you can learn about how to get your ITIN here.
Do All Members of LLC Need to be Present To Open a Bank Account in USA?
Most banks require all LLC members to be present when opening a bank account. I recommend calling the bank ahead of time to double-check.
Types of Bank Accounts Available to Non-Residents
In general, non-residents can open 2 types of bank accounts: personal bank account and business bank account.
Nearly anyone can open a personal bank account, and as a non-resident, you will have more options with a personal account than a business one.
However, if you have a US company, you can open a business account fairly easily as well.
Corporate accounts can be a bit trickier.
If you don’t already have a company in the US, then you will need to set one up before opening a business bank account (you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a business in the US).
Unless you already have an established relationship with a bank or are depositing millions of dollars, then most US banks will not open an account for a foreign company.
Luckily, non-residents can set up US LLCs without much trouble, and once you set up the LLC, you only need to file Form 5472 annually.
Plus, when you set up a US LLC as a non-resident, you can take advantage of different tax benefits, and you can even incorporate US companies with foreign companies.
If you’re interested in using US LLCs and US banking, email me at email@example.com
Once you have a US company, setting up a business bank account is simple as long as you come prepared with the right documentation.
Where Can I Open U.S. Open a Bank Account?
As a foreigner, Wells Fargo and HSBC may be the easiest to work with. Wells Fargo has the most locations in the U.S. with low minimum deposit and balance requirements and frequently no minimum fees.
Your best option is to find a U.S. bank (such as Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America) that also has a location locally in your country that will allow you to open up a U.S. bank account. It’s always a good idea to have your bank close to you.
Also, many international banks have a presence in the US, including Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC. If you already have an account with one of these banks, they can help you set up a bank account.
Your U.S. bank account can be opened anywhere in the world. Typically, U.S. banks will need someone to show up in person, with formation documents, and EIN for the company.
The procedure for opening a US bank account remotely vary from country to country, so I would suggest speaking to a bank representative at your local branch. This will give you a better idea on how the bank account process works and what documents you will need to open a US bank account.
If you intend to travel to the state of incorporation to open up a bank account, make sure to bring all necessary documents detailed below…
What Documents Do I Need to Open a US Bank Account?
Every bank and institution will be different on what exactly they will require.
Ideally, you want to contact the bank where you would like to open a bank account and ask their representative on what documents and information you will need to provide them to open a bank account.
Generally, you will be asked for the following documents:
- 2 forms of ID: your passport, identity card, or driving license
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Documents proving your physical address (typically P.O. boxes will not be acceptable), and
- Relevant immigration documents (if necessary)
Different banks will require different documents.
Keep in mind that your nationality will also play an important role. Typically, it will probably be much easier to open a US bank account if you’re Canadian, Mexican, Australian, British, or from an EU country.
Can I Get a U.S. Credit Card as a Non-U.S. Resident?
I have heard from some of my clients that they were able to apply for a credit card with Capital One.
Be sure to talk to their representative and ask whether you will be able to apply for a credit card.
What To Do Next
If you’re a non-US resident, review the 3 solutions you have above to open your bank account in USA.
All US banks require an EIN to open a business bank account. If you’re a non-US citizen, you can get an EIN here.
Also, if you’re a non-US citizen and you don’t have an SSN, you will also need an ITIN to open a bank account in USA.
Call the bank ahead of time and ask to speak with the person who handles business accounts.
Check on the following:
- what are the required documents?
- what are the minimum monthly balance requirements?
- what are the monthly fees, if any?
- how much is needed for the initial deposit?
- do all LLC members need to be present?
- what’s the best time of day for quickest service?
- what else do I need to bring that I forgot to ask?
While I can’t help you open a bank account remotely, I will prepare and provide you ALL of the documents you need to open your U.S. bank account.
Want to learn about how to get your EIN or ITIN? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org