Non-resident owners of LLCs and Corporations face unique challenges when opening a US business bank account. This is largely because of difficulty verifying their identity with the bank. Fortunately, new banks have developed systems which traditional banks such as Chase refused to do. This means you do not need to visit the US to open a bank account. In fact, if you use our LLC formation service, we will open your business bank account for you.
To open the account, we use Relay. Relay is a no-fee, online business banking and money management platform that helps small businesses take control of their cash flow and get crystal clear on what they’re earning, spending and saving.No travel is required to open an account with Relay, making it the easiest option for non-residents.
Development of these verification processes was partly due to COVID where travel to the US was impossible or too expensive. The result is many non-residents can open an account using an online form, providing a passport, and a photo or video of themselves to verify their identity.
This is a fortunate development as every business should have a bank account for practical reasons. It makes dealing with clients and collecting payments easier, provides asset protection and can help reduce your taxes.
Note: It's important to mention if an owner or manager is based in the United States, then they can visit a bank in person and open the account. This also applies if you can travel to the USA. Many clients use friends or family as well (who they trust).
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Every institution will require the same information from the business, what will differ is how your identity is verified. Here is what's required:
These banking requirements prove the LLC or Corporation is in good standing and who owns and operates it. Gone are the days when nominees and shell corporations could be used to hide the identity of owners. Fortunately, banks have adapted and can open accounts for non-citizens online.
Don't be intimated by the banking process. You can apply yourself using the above institutions and our checklist or our banking service. Every Limited Liability Company and Corporation we form includes our applying for your business bank account online.
As your registered agent we have all the company's information, we only require your identity documents to finalize the online application. We do this as a service since non-residents often became frustrated about having a US business but no bank account to operate with. With our service we provide the answer to can a foreigner open a bank account in the US remotely?
The best account will depend upon the needs of your company. Do you require international wire transfers, will your business be making cash deposits, do you need to receive and send money in foreign currencies, what about obtaining a loan?
If you need to make cash deposits or require a loan from the institution, then a traditional brick and mortar bank will be the best fit. Examples include Bank of America, U.S. Bank or JP Morgan Chase. You can also use international banks which have locations in the USA, such as HSBC and Santander.
The above banks often require an in person visit and may have monthly fees, however. For that reason we generally recommend using an online bank for those who are fee conscious, and cannot travel to the USA.
A nonresident account is simply one where the owners were not US residents or citizens. They do not have Social Security Numbers (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), and must go through additional steps for identity verification.
Each bank has their own list of prohibited countries and industries to help them comply with avoiding sanctions and scams.
Prohibited industries include those involving drugs, payday loans, health supplements and crypto. This is generally due to a high number of chargebacks, issues with customers, and regulatory scrutiny.
The list of prohibited countries is unique to each bank. The banks don't generally give a reason for why they choose a country and another one doesn't, but there are some countries which few or no banks will accept. These are Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Russia and North Korea.
There will also be a check against the list from the office of foreign assets control (OFAC) to ensure owners, managers, officers, and anyone else controlling the account or not on the sanctions list