Open a Bank Account in the U.S.

Open a Bank Account in the U.S.

To many people around the world, America is still the “land of opportunity”.  A lot of non-US entrepreneurs incorporate a new business here for the many benefits associated with it, including opening a U.S. Bank Account. Whether it is a Corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC), there are many major benefits of opening a business and a bank account in the United States.  

Please contact us to discuss your options.  We recommend a U.S. Corporation if the entrepreneur is not planning on spending a lot of time in the U.S.  We recommend an LLC if all owners of the LLC are going to spend quite a bit of time in the U.S.

Here are five (5) benefits foreign entrepreneurs and investors receive when opening a bank account in the United States.

  1. Your deposits are insured if the bank fails

Most banks in the USA are federally insured and protect their individual depositors to a certain amount of money in case the bank faces financial difficulties.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) ensures the bank’s individual depositors up to $250,000.

  1. Easy international transactions

Many countries around the word are beset with “currency controls”.  When transferring amounts of money from your home country bank account, you may encounter multiple security and currency regulations.  However, with a solid U.S. account and a solid relationship with your banker, such transactions can be made online effortlessly, from anywhere in the world. Even in this environment of additional regulations engendered by money laundering and international financial fraud, the U.S. banking system still makes it relatively easy to move money and conduct business.

  1. Swift easily between currencies

Owning a U.S. dollar account eliminates currency exchange fees at many institutions.  Moreover, a cheque written on a U.S. dollar account is more widely and promptly accepted in the USA.

  1. Eligibility for U.S. government benefits, personal U.S. citizenship is not required

Most foreign citizens that are setting up a business in the USA wonder if not being an American citizen is an issue when completing the company paperwork or for opening a bank account. The legislature allows a U.S. based entity to open a bank account even if it’s owners are not residents of the U.S. Also, banks are not interested in your citizenship whilst you have the necessary funds for an account. All of this is made easier when opening the bank account in your company’s name.

  1. Owning a U.S. bank account gives credibility to your business

In most countries, local consumers remain skeptical of foreign products and services.  Setting up a new business makes local customers less skeptical regarding when transacting business. Therefore, if you need to gain your customer’s trust, a U.S. bank account reinforces the presence of your company and makes it more reliable and creditable to its customers and/or future local business partners.

Top Ten Open a Bank Account in the U.S. Questions

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Open A Bank Accounts In The U.S

If you’re a new arrival to the U.S., it may seem a little more difficult for you to open a bank account at any specified bank. You’ll have to provide a government-issued ID and a Social Security number as well as proof of your creditworthiness.

If you are a foreign citizen legally in the U.S., I suggest that you establish a relationship with a banker at the bank at which you hope to open an account.  Online banking is considered as an option but it is always better to have a face to face interaction with a representative at a bank. Also, current laws which are in place to protect against crimes such as money laundering might prevent you from successfully opening an account online.

Depending on the bank, you may need a minimum deposit or certain fee to open an account. Also make sure that you enquire about annual fees, minimum balances and other financial requirements to hold a bank account so that you can plan to meet them once you’re settled.

Once you open your account, make a money transfer from your home bank account to your new one and you’ll begin the journey to start making purchases.

Banking regulations differ from state to state in the U.S., which means that specific requirements will vary depending on your new location. Most banks require that you provide:

  • Government-issued ID, including a passport or other photo ID.
  • Social Security number.
  • Proof of your physical address, such as a utility bill.
  • Any immigration forms.

Banks vary on the type of documents they accept. So it is always better to contact customer care before hand so that you have all the information handy. For example, you may be able to use a utility bill to establish proof of your address.

The type of account completely falls in line with your personal situation, your reasons for being in the US and how much you’re planning on investing on additional services and add-ons. Below are few of the account types available to foreigners.

  • Checking accounts

Also known as a current transaction account in some countries, a checking account lets you pay bills, send and receive money and use a linked debit card for everyday purchases.

  • Savings account

A savings account accrues interest, letting your money grow. In the US, you may be penalized if you make more than six withdrawals per month from a savings account, so these are best used for money you don’t need to access regularly.

  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)

It is also known as a fixed deposit or term deposit in some countries, a CD is ideal for people who want to lock away a large amount of money for a fixed period. The length of the fixed period depends on the bank, and terms can last from as little as one month to over five years. At the end of the fixed period, you can either roll over the amount plus interest for another fixed term, withdraw just the interest or make a full withdrawal.

Depending on the bank, international students should be able to open a bank account with the following set of documents:

  • Your full name, home address, local address and phone number.
  • A secondary form of ID, such as your student ID, birth certificate, driver’s license or letter from your university’s international students and scholars office.
  • School enrollment verification.
  • A government-issued passport.
  • Your Form I-94.
  • Form I-20, Form DS-2019 or I-797 approval notice.

I usually never answer a question this broad because each individual has individual needs.  A good start is calling large bank branches in the US that may have a standard procedure for recent arrivals to the US. Ask about the requirements necessary for a new arrival to open a bank account, including any deposits you may be required to make in order to open the account.

Yes, a visitor can easily open a US-based bank account as long as he or she has the required documents. With the help of requisite documentation, a bank account can be established. Documents include two forms of picture IDs, which is your passport and a secondary ID, such as a driver’s license or student picture ID. Possessing the proper identification can make things smoother. Also, you will need to possess an ITIN (International Taxpayer Identification Number). You will need a US address as well. You can easily get a virtual US address with mail-forwarding services.

The initial deposit to open a bank account in the US usually lies between $10 to $500 USD and varies by bank and your particular banking history with the bank.

It is possible for a foreigner to open a US bank account. However, the process is very difficult if you try on opening an account as a non-resident. Some US banks require that you have a US-based address or provide an International Taxpayer Identification Number or ITIN for tax reporting purposes. You also need to provide immigration documents if you live in the US or plan to move to the US and live.

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