How to Open a US Bank Account as an International Founder | Your Ultimate Guide

Having a US bank account is important for international founders with a US business. See how you can get yours.

Last updated: January 19th, 2021

As soon as your LLC is approved and you have acquired an EIN Number, it is time to open a business account to manage business finances.

However, if you are a foreigner and are launching an LLC in the U.S., you must be asking yourself the question, "Can non-US residents open a U.S. LLC bank account?” If yes, then how? 

This article answers all these questions with a step by step guide to open an LLC bank account in the U.S. for foreigners.


Can Foreigners Open A Business Bank Account in the U.S.?

The United States is known as the largest economy in the world as well as a leading global trader. Many people from around the world set up online and physical business Limited Liable Companies in the U.S.

As a foreign entity, it is not possible to open a business bank account in the United States unless your business is registered in the U.S. as per the requirement. You must also have an EIN (Employer Identification Number), a unique identifier that is issued to the business to make sure that IRS can identify it for tax purposes.

Although as a non-citizen of the United States, it's a little complex to open a business bank account in the U.S., it is totally achievable. 

Here are some essential facts for applying for an LLC business account:

  • There are no residency requirements to open a business bank account. You do not have to be an American citizen or a U.S. resident alien when opening an LLC bank account (more on this below, some banks do have requirements on this)
  • You don't have to personally travel to the bank to open the LLC business account (more on this below, some banks do require you to visit the branch in person)
  • You don't need an SSN (Social Security Number) to open a U.S. LLC bank account (more on this below, some banks do require an SSN)
  • You don’t need an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to open a U.S. LLC bank account
  • Look for a “foreigner-friendly” bank that caters to residents who don’t have an SSN or ITIN. At such a bank, you can easily use your LLC’s Registered Agent address as your LLC's office address, while many banks do not allow that and require proof of an office in the U.S.

Read on to know how to open a business account for your LLC in the U.S. and the related information, residency, and documents required in the process.


What is the Process to Open an LLC Bank Account?

Opening a bank account is not easy or similar to opening your personal bank account. If you have a proper understanding of the process and bring the right documents to the bank, it will not take much of your precious time.

Before heading further, you must know that not all business bank accounts have the same steps to create. Let’s begin with the process;

Decide on Bank Account and Their Services

Every bank’s service options and monthly fee structure differs, and they have different levels of business bank accounts. You need to decide on various things, such as monthly banking fees, initial deposit amount, minimum balance requirements, and overdraft protection.

Do you need several accounts, or just one is enough? Minimum balance requirement will work for you or not; how much is the average monthly charge you can pay? These are some questions you must consider when deciding on a bank or account type for your business.

Moreover, discuss your needs with a range of banks in that State so that you have a better understanding of their fee structure and other services. You can choose from different local and national banks across America. If you have a bank account with an international banking system that operates in the United States, then you can simply transfer the account transversely. It is likely a good idea to stick with one of the below following four big banks:

 

  • Citibank
  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo (Very foreign-friendly)
  • JP Morgan Chase

It is recommended to stay for up to 1 to 2 weeks if there are any delays or extra things you need to get done to open the account.

Bank’s Documentation Requirements

Call your bank once you have finalized the type of business account and ask them about the documentation they require to open a business bank account for your LLC.

Most banks in the United States require the following documents to open the LLC bank account whether you are opening an account personally or online through some agency:

  • Photo ID of the owner or director who is opening an LLC bank account.
  • Proof of the personal address for the owner or director.
  • Proof of the business address to show that your LLC location and State of the bank branch are the same. Some banks may require additional documents like phone bills, lease, or utility bills.
  • A copy of the certificate of formation, articles of organization, or equivalent document of your LLC. These documents differ depending on the State where the LLC is registered. 
  • Employer confirmation letter (CP575) or EIN verification letter (147C) of your LLC from the IRS.
  • Your LLC's operating agreement or any other similar document showing the one authorized to sign on your behalf.
  • U.S. Phone Number, it will make the bank feel more convenient to work with you.
  • Foreign driving license and foreign passport.
  • Fully filled Declaration Of Beneficial Ownership form provided by the bank. It identifies the true business owners before they can open a bank account and is designed to prevent illegal financial activity.

The bank you choose may also require additional documentation, so it is important to call the firm ahead to ensure you do not waste your time going there with incomplete documentation. 

Besides, it’s worth mentioning that many banks also require a minimum deposit amount to open an LLC account. Thus, apart from the required documents, check the minimum deposit amount when you hand in the documents as it also differs from bank to bank.

Open Your LLC Bank Account

Once all the proper documentation has been gathered, now it’s time to meet the banker to open your LLC business account. 

The bank will provide you an LLC banking resolution document to fill describing which LLC Member(s) enjoys the authority to open a bank account. Each bank provides its own resolution form, so you cannot prepare it ahead.

As you have done your research in advance and brought all the documents required for opening the account, now the final step in this process is easy and may take about an hour. 

Also, determine whether you need an ATM or checks. A few bank costs check-system some extra. If you have to make online purchases, then a debit card will be useful, and you do not need to apply for a separate business card.


Opening LLC Bank Account From Abroad

Is it possible to online open a business bank account in the USA?

As it is required by most banks that you must be physically present for document submission, it is not possible to complete the whole process from abroad. You can probably start the process online by getting a bank account opening application online, but you need to visit the bank and hand in the relevant documents in person.

However, there are a few exceptions now; some consultant banks may be willing to help you open a business bank account from overseas by making arrangements for you. Also, agencies like Mercury offer the same services for a fee and open a bank completely online. 

If you are applying through Mercury, it will take 1-2 weeks for application review and approval. You get an email notification from Mercury after that they review the application.

Why Do You Need An LLC Bank Account? 

There are various reasons why opening a business bank account in the United States can help your company. 

  • First, you will get easy access to the leading economy of the world. Despite the recent downturns, U.S. consumption remained high.
  • Also, you no longer need to pay hefty fees in the form of foreign exchanges. You can easily enjoy access to the global market as banks in the United States are known worldwide.
  • Easier time for calculating the taxes that you owe to the federal or State government. Paying business bills, depositing payments, and accounting for the expenses becomes easier.
  • You will get more trust and respect from the suppliers and vendors and develop far better professionalism by paying with the check having your company’s name.
  • In the future, you may require a business loan, and getting that will be easier if you develop a business relationship with your company’s bank.

Can I use my personal bank for my small business?

While this is possible we advise against this. Having separation between personal spending and business spending makes it much easier to reconcile your books each month and makes it much easier to handle/file taxes at the end of the year.

Therefore we recommend opening up a business bank account for your business and using a personal bank account for personal use.

Can a foreigner open a bank account in the USA?

Yes you can! There are certain banks which require you to visit a branch in person to open it but there are banking options you can use which allow you to open an account remotely from anywhere in the world. We'll explain which options are available below

Do I need a US SSN to open a US Business Bank Account?

You do not need a US SSN (Social Security Number) to open a US bank account!

While many banks do require an SSN again, there are a few options which allow you to open an account without one and again we'll explain which options are available below.

What documents do I need to open a US business bank account?

Company's Official Formation Documents

You'll need your company's official formation documents during the application.

For example, if you're an LLC this could be your "Articles of Incorporation!"

To learn more about LLCs vs C Corps, check out this blog post we wrote: LLC vs C Corporation: The Ultimate Guide to Decide Which Is Best For Your Business

EIN (Employer Identification Number)

You'll need an EIN number which is issued by the IRS

To get an EIN:

- Have a US SSN? You can apply online here

- Don't have one? You'll have to fax or mail in form SS-4 (Check out our full guide here on how to get an EIN as a non-US resident without an SSN!)

- You can also have a "responsible third party" apply for you in both of the above cases (StartPack 😄)

Government ID

You'll need some form of government ID.

Some banks require a US Passport if you're a non-US resident.

Most will accept any official form government ID (e.g. passport or US driver's license).

What information do I need to provide to open a US business bank account?

You'll need to provide information on your company and information on your company owners.

Information on your company

- Company name

- Brief description of company

- Formation documents (StartPack can help you get this!)

- EIN (StartPack can help you get this!)

- US Address (StartPack can help you get this!)

- US Phone Number (StartPack can help you get this!)

- Website (StartPack can help you get this!)

Information on your company owners

Banks require the info of anyone who owns 25% of the company and/or has access to company finances.

This typically includes:

- Contact Info (Name, Email, Phone)

- Address (This can be a non-US address)

- Government ID

How do I Apply for a US Business Bank Account?

You have your documents and all your information ready to go. Now what?

It's time to apply!

Many US banks will actually still require you to physically visit a branch to open an account...

However:

- Have a US SSN or TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number)? Certain banks will let you apply online :)

- Don't have one? Few banks will let you apply online :(

Keep on reading to see a full list of options!

Can you guarantee that my US Business Bank Account will be opened?

Banks (and StartPack) can't "guarantee" up-front that your application will 100% be accepted as they have to go through their KYC (know your customer) process

Banks must comply with KYC regulations and anti-money laundering regulations to limit fraud

To learn more about KYC regulations check out this helpful page on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer

If my bank account application is rejected, will the bank tell me why?

Unfortunately, most banks can't share specific reasons why your application was rejected. However, to ensure this doesn't happen, we recommend going through the list of required documents for any bank + ensuring you aren't on a "restricted company type" list before applying!

US Banking Options

Without further ado, here is a list of US Banking Options and their requirements!

Mercury

Mercury lets you open a FDIC-insured bank account that comes with API access, virtual cards, and more.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ✅

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • US Residents: Government ID
  • Non-US Residents: Passport

Transferwise

Transferwise is a business account to send and receive multiple currencies with the real exchange rate. Do business without borders.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ✅

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • US Residents: Government ID
  • Non-US Residents: Passport

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is a provider of banking, mortgage, investing, credit card, and personal, small business, and commercial financial services.

Can I open an account online? ❌

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ❌

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • Must visit the branch in person in the US to open an account
  • Two forms of personal identification, one of which is issued by a government agency (ie passport or drivers license)
  • US SSN

Silicon Valley Bank

Silicon Valley Bank offers services designed to help you accomplish more as you work to grow your business.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ❌

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • US Residents: Government ID
  • Non-US Residents: Passport
  • Must Have Physical US Address
  • Must Have at Least One US Resident on Team

Lili

Lili provides banking, expense management and other tax-saving tools designed to save you time and money.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ❌

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • US Residents: Government ID
  • US Residents: Government ID
  • Non-US Residents: Passport

First Republic

First Republic is a bank offering personal banking, business banking, trust and wealth management services.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ❌

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • US SSN
  • Passport
  • Must Be US Resident in Following Regions: SV, LA, BOS, NYC, Florida, PacNorwest, Austin, Chicago

Novo

Novo is built for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. No hidden fees, no hassle.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ❌

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • Must be US Resident
  • US SSN
  • Must Have Physical US Address
  • US Cell Phone (not a virtual number)

Brex

Brex provides credit cards, bank accounts, payments, expenses, and accounting all in one place keep you in control of your growth.

Can I open an account online? ✅

Can I open an account without a US SSN? ✅

What are the requirements?

  • EIN & Formation Documents (both supplied by StartPack)
  • US Residents: Government ID
  • Non-US Residents: Passport
  • Must Have Physical US Address (A virtual address does not work 😞 )

Any other bank accounts you'd like us to review?

Let us know! You can find email us anytime, live chat us online, or find us on Twitter at StartPackHQ!

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