In the past couple of years, ecommerce businesses have experienced massive growth, with the sector now accounting for about 1/5th of all retail sales in the US. This situation has created enormous opportunities for entrepreneurs in the US. But it’s also good news for founders in other countries.
It used to be hard to expand your business into a new region without physically setting up there. However, things have gotten far more accessible thanks to international payment processors like Stripe. These days, you can open up and run a US-based business from places like the UK without setting foot on American soil.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up a Stripe account in the United Kingdom so you can process US dollars and expand into the US market.
Why use Stripe as a payment gateway?
Stripe is an excellent payment gateway. In short, a payment gateway is a way for customers to transfer money from their accounts to your business account securely. These gateways allow you to accept Stripe payments from credit cards, debit cards, mobile wallets, and even buy now, pay later services like Klarna or Afterpay.
Stripe is one of the leading players in the game. It’s an excellent option for online sellers, especially those selling goods and services internationally.
One of the most significant benefits of Stripe is that it’s very user-friendly. It uses an API (application programming interface) that integrates into your website. Instead of having to build an expensive and complex payment processor, Stripe takes care of that for you.
Stripe is the payment processor of choice for some huge businesses. Some of its biggest clients are:
Benefits of Stripe
Stripe has earned a reputation as an innovative and easy-to-use product for local and international payments. Here are some of the big reasons to use the platform.
APIs allow two distinct pieces of software to communicate securely. Stripe makes it easy for founders to integrate their websites with Stripes APIs thanks to simple libraries and customization options.
One of Stripe’s most valuable features is security. Sending customer data over the internet can be risky unless you use a processor with powerful security features. Thankfully, Stripe is SSL-protected and PCI compliant.
It gets better each year
Stripe is known for its innovation. It’s not the type of platform to rest on its laurels. The company is technology-first, so it is constantly finding ways to make its service quicker, more secure, and easier to use.
5 steps to create a Stripe account in the UK
OK, so now that you understand the benefits of using Stripe, let’s explore the first step: how to set up a Stripe account in the UK so that you can process USD.
1. Form a US company remotely (LLC, DAO LLC, or C Corp)
There are many currencies in the world, but many people come to Stripe so they can do business in USD. And if you want to do business in the USD, you must set up a business in the US — which you can do remotely. Starting a US business as a non-citizen is probably easier than you think, especially when you get the help of a specialist service.
The first thing that you need to do is decide what type of company you want to form. Traditionally, there were two main types of US corporations that non-citizens could create. However, more recently, an exciting third option has emerged.
You can choose between a:
- LLC (Limited Liability Company)
- C-corp (C corporation)
- DAO LLC (Decentralized Autonomous Organization)
Which type you choose depends on your specific situation and your business. At doola, we recommend:
How doola works
At doola, our mission is to help founders from all around the world find success and prosperity. We believe that everyone deserves access to wealth creation. As such, we strive to empower founders to set up businesses in the US.
However, founding a business in the US while living abroad can be an administrative headache. There are many forms and paperwork to deal with, alongside local laws and regulations.
doola takes the load off entrepreneurs by taking care of all the big and small things they need to do when forming a US company. We support our customers through the incorporation process so they can focus on what they do best: run their businesses!
We make starting a US business easier and cheaper than the alternatives. Launching any business venture can be stressful. Our expert customer service team is there to help you through the process. However, our help doesn’t stop once the formation has been finalized. We’re here to support you for the long term.
When you choose doola to help you open a US company, we will guide you through the administrative process and take a lot of the stress away.
For a deep dive into our process, click this link.
For now, here are the steps you’ll need to take to form a business entity.
Select your business structure
Once you’ve decided which business type is best for your business, you need to choose which state to register your business.
If you’re forming an LLC, we recommend registering in Delaware or Wyoming.
Register your business
Depending on where you register your business, you will need content with state-specific regulations.
Typically, you’ll need to:
- Come up with a unique business name
- Find a registered agent that can receive legal paperwork on your behalf
- Fill out a certificate of incorporation with
- File a report and pay a franchise tax
However, remember these requirements can vary state by state.
Get an EIN
Many people mistakenly believe you need a Social Security Number (SSN) to start a business in the US. However, SSNs are not something that you can obtain or apply for; they are issued by the Department of Social Security.
However, when you set up a business in the US, you can get an EIN. EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. These numbers — also called Federal Tax Identification Numbers — are used to identify your business identity. EINs are issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
This stage is very important. Without it, you won’t be able to apply for a bank account and accept payments in the US.
2. Get a US bank account as a non-resident
Most US banks will only allow residents to open a bank account. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible. It just takes a bit of work and understanding of how to do it.
Some accounts — even those aimed at non-residents — can require that you are physically present to show an ID. If your plan is just to open a US business but not necessarily jump through the hoops of applying for a visa and entering the country, this can be pretty inconvenient.
Additionally, opening a US bank account as a non-national can involve some hefty financial commitments in the form of a banking deposit.
With doola, we’ve made the process far more streamlined and simple.
In the last step, we talked about how you needed to apply to the IRS for an EIN. All US banks have to comply with KYC (know your customer) regulations. These rules are set up to fight fraud, money laundering, and crime. For a bank to accept your application, they’ll need your:
- Passport and other documents
Once they have these items, they can be sure that you and your business are real entities.
So, once you’ve sent the relevant documents and the bank reviews and approves your paperwork, you’ll be the proud holder of a US bank account.
Doing this step on your own can be pretty tricky. doola is an excellent option for founders who need to set up a US bank account remotely. Our platform helps you launch a US company with a US bank account quickly and easily, especially when compared to the alternatives.
3. Sign up for a Stripe account through your newly formed US company
Next up, you need to set up a Stripe account for your newly formed US company. We recommend Stripe because it is a payment gateway designed for payment processing.
Setting up a Stripe account is relatively straightforward. Go to their registration dashboard and enter your:
- Full name
- Email address
- Current country of residence (i.e., the UK)
With only these details, your account will be available in test mode. This setting is great for letting you get the hang of the platform. However, if you want to use it to accept funds, you need to activate your account.
Again, the process is pretty straightforward, but it requires a few different steps. To activate your account, you need to provide a mix of personal and business information alongside some documents.
- Your full name
- Your telephone number
- Your address
- The country where you are based
- Your date of birth
- Your bank account number
- Business website address
- What type of industry your business operates in
- Your business type (i.e., LLC, C corp, DAO LLC)
- A description of what you sell, your typical client, and when you charge
- Company registration number
- VAT number (where applicable)
Once you have submitted your information, the Stripe platform will ask you to upload your documents. You need to provide:
- A passport or driving license
- Proof of address, such as utility bill
Once your document and all your details are processed, your Stripe account will be active. You’ll now be able to start taking online payments from customers all over the world, including US customers.
Now, of course, if you want to open a Stripe account in the US, you’ll need some other additional details.
- A US EIN Number
- A physical location in the US
- A phone number in the US
- A Government ID from any country
The Government ID is something that you’ll need to provide on your own. And, as we’ve shown in Step #1, we can help you get your EIN from the IRS.
Additionally, when you use doola’s service, we can provide you with the physical location and US phone number needed to open a US Stripe account.
For further details, read How To Create a US Stripe Account – International Founder Guide.
4. Start processing USD and expand to the US market
Once you have your Stripe account up and running, you’re ready to expand into the US market. Stripe allows you to send and receive payments in USD, meaning you can set up your product or service within the US.
Of course, you need to connect your bank account to your payment processor, in this case, Stripe, to complete this step. When you use doola, we can walk you through this straightforward stage and get you ready to accept USD all over the globe.
5. Keep up with annual tax filings
Of course, running a US business or startup means you must comply with US regulations, including tax filings. The US has a unique tax system that differs from what you might be used to in the UK.
Many founders find this stage very complicated and a little stressful. For starters, the IRS has a reputation for being very strict. For foreign owners, failure to file forms can lead to penalties of $25,000.
doola total tax compliance
doola has interviewed and vetted hundreds of tax professionals. We use chartered public accountants (CPAs) to ensure your business stays compliant in the US by ensuring the accuracy of your tax information. Additionally, using these professionals saves you a lot of time.
Working out how to file US taxes correctly can be pretty complex, especially when you’re doing it for the first time. Our service ensures that you always have professional advice at your fingertips, plus access to CPAs who can complete your taxes at the most affordable prices available.
Click here to learn more about how doola can help with your US taxes.
If you’re based in the UK but want to expand your business or start a new venture in the US, it might feel like a monumental task. There is a lot of paperwork and red tape involved, including getting an EIN, bank account, registering a business, and so on. For many founders, this represents an unwelcome level of complexity outside their area of expertise.
We’ve assisted 100k founders from 100+ countries across six continents to set up the business in the US. With doola, you can register your business and open a bank account without an SSN or even setting foot in the country.
If you want to set up a Stripe account in the UK to process US dollars, we can help every step of the way, from formation to keeping up with annual taxes. This process will allow you to send and process USD and do business in the US.
Check out our guide on how to set up a UK LLC.