Is It Possible to Open a Non-Resident Bank in the USA?

If you want to open up a bank account in another country, perhaps the United States of America might not be your top priority. Perhaps there’s the misconception that American banks don’t welcome foreigners or will refuse non-resident accounts altogether. If you think so, you are mistaken, we are afraid. American banks do open accounts for non-residents of the country and having a bank account in the USA would certainly bring you many weighty advantages.

We must say, however, that you wouldn’t be able to set up an account with an American bank in an instant. The bank administration is going to take between 2 and 3 weeks to process your application for services. And a personal visit to the bank office is going to be required in all cases.

What American banks are prepared to open accounts for foreigners?

Some US banks may be unwilling to welcome foreign nationals; but that doesn’t have to be the case! Even if you are neither an American citizen nor green card holder, the selection of banks offers wide choices where non-residents can open accounts – in fact so much that professional advice might even be necessary when making this selection! Here are a few of the best banks in the US for expats and foreigners:

  • Bank of America;
  • Silicon Valley Bank;
  • Preferred Bank;
  • Fremont Bank;
  • US Bank.

The first two banks on the list are especially noteworthy. Bank of America is one of the largest financial institutions in the country. It provides services both to individual and to corporate clients. Currently, over three million companies have accounts with Bank of America.

Silicon Valley Bank is one of the youngest financial institutions in America but it has been in existence long enough to win customers’ trust. The bank will ideally suit IT startups and all kinds of high-tech companies. There they will find all banking services that they need for successful development.

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

It was possible to open a bank account in America from the comfort of your home earlier but the opportunity does not exist any longer. Several countries allow opening non-resident bank accounts remotely and if you have no desire to travel at all, you should choose one of them. On the other hand, we do recommend that you visit America at least once: the country is beautiful and extremely diverse.

You have to realize that American banks would gladly open accounts for you remotely but they are not allowed to do so by the federal authorities. The USA together with many other progressive countries is combating terrorism financing and money laundering.

To facilitate achieving the goal the US authorities have made it mandatory for every bank in the country to have a Customer Identification Program. All banks in America have to meet prospective customers in person.

It is possible to set up a bank account in the USA remotely but it would have to be an account with a payment system rather than a traditional bank. The famous Payoneer payment system, for example, provides such an opportunity. You should realize, however, that the system uses a single account for all customers. An individual customer simply has his or her personal ‘entry point’ so this is not a bank account in the full sense of the word.

An interview with a bank manager is nothing to be afraid of. He or she is not going to interrogate you about intimate aspects of your life. The bank officer will only want to make sure that you are the person that you pretend to be and (extremely important!) that the money you are planning to put in the bank comes from legal sources.

Please note that a personal visit to the bank does not guarantee that an account will be opened for you. Service denial is not a rarity these days, unfortunately.

What can you do if banking services have been denied to you in the USA?

The origin of your money has to be completely transparent if you would like to set up a bank account in the USA. If the bank administration suspects that the applicant might have something to do with money laundering, services will be denied to him/ her in all likelihood. Besides, an existing bank account can be closed (or blocked) in an instant if a certain transaction resembles a money laundering operation in some way.

If your application for banking services has been turned down in America before or if one of your American bank accounts has been closed against your will, you should not despair. There is no single bank client database in the USA, which means that the administration of a particular bank does not know the names of other banks’ clients, including rejected clients. Therefore, if services were denied at your first financial institution, you can seek them elsewhere.

Is a visa required to open a non-resident bank account in the USA?

Most banks do not care if you possess a visa; however, since you must visit them personally for their service and an interview process requires personal meetings with bank officials, legal entry to USA requires having one (please avoid crossing illegally into America from Mexico – too dangerous!). No special permit or tourist visa are needed: just any simple tourist visa will do just fine!
After all, you are not going to spend months in America to open a bank account there.

The fact that a visa is not required does not mean that you cannot make use of your US visa when applying for banking services. Banks often ask for ‘a second ID’ in addition to your passport and your visa can serve this purpose very well.  

Can you open an account without a US Social Security Number?

Every American citizen and legal resident has an SSN. No foreign national has an American SSN. Foreign nationals are entitled to open bank accounts in America. This logical equation suggests that the answer to the question above is affirmative.

Can a non-resident open a corporate bank account in America?

Yes, it is possible but you would have to obtain several additional items to be able to set up a corporate bank account in the USA. Your application document package has to contain the following information, among other things:

  • Your mail address in the USA;
  • Your American telephone number;
  • Mail address in your home country.

Your American address can be a physical address or a P.O. Box. Please note that not all US banks will be satisfied with a P.O. Box address.

As far as your American phone number is concerned, you will need it to manage your account in the future. Many American banks send activation passwords and other information only to phone numbers starting with +1, which is the US phone code. This means that you will have to keep your American phone number functional if you want to continue having access to your American bank account.

Documents confirming your address at home (such as utility bills, for instance) have to be translated into English.  

An additional important consideration when doing business in America for foreign companies is opening a branch or subsidiary (known in America as “Foreign Corporation”).

Establishing a corporate bank account in the USA is unquestionably more challenging than opening personal ones; you would benefit greatly from seeking professional guidance for this latter endeavor while necessary professionals might even need to assist when setting up the former one.

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