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- How non-US Residents can Apply For a Bank Account For an LLC – All You Need To Know
How non-US Residents can Apply For a Bank Account For an LLC – All You Need To Know
Getting the opportunity to do business overseas is always great. However, when you work as a non-resident, especially in the US, you may face some difficulties while trying to open a bank account for a Limited Liability Company (or LLC for short). Before we get into the details, opening a bank account for an LLC means that you need a business account. This is because a personal account will not meet your needs. For example, a business account has higher limits and more rewards.
But, as a non-resident, there are some challenges you might face while trying to open a business account in the US. Some banks in the US may deny you service on account that you are a non-resident (even if their policy says otherwise). Usually, to dodge inconveniences like this, make sure that you have all your documents in order to get the service you deserve! You can also fix this problem by going to a different branch or different branch manager. But, if you’re confused about what bank to pick, what documents you need, and where to start, you’re at the right place. In this blog, we cover all the whys, hows, and whats of what it takes to open a bank account for an LLC in the US for foreigners.
Picking The Right Bank
Choosing a bank account is probably the most important part when you want to start an LLC as a non-resident. Your first priority should be getting your LLC registered so that you can open a bank account for it.
Now, there are tons of bank options in the US for opening a business account. So, how do you pick the best one for you? Well, let’s go over some of the most popular US banks and what you can expect from them as a non-resident. Typically, it is better to stick with one of the big four while opening an account for an LLC in the US. These big four include:
- Wells Fargo
- Citi Bank
- Bank of America
- JP Morgan Chase
These are the most reliable banks in the US that offer the best services for non-residents. Of course, there are additional factors you need to consider before opening an account. Prior to this, do your research on which bank has the lowest fees, exchange rates, and account features. Now, all of them will differ, this is up to you as a business to decide which bank works best for you. Usually, you should go for the one with the lowest fee and the highest exchange rates to maximize your profits. However, bank features are also an incredibly important factor because if you run into issues or want to have flexibility with your account, your bank features and service will be your best friend.
Now, when it comes to opening a bank account for your LLC, you typically have two options. This means that there are two types of banks you can pick from.
The first type of bank you can open a business account with is a brick-and-mortar bank. These are more traditional types of banks that have a physical presence in a certain location. To open a bank account in one of these banks, you need to be physically present to do so. However, you can open a bank remotely if you know the right person to talk to. Some brick-and-mortar banks like Chase, Citi Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or HSBC, have an advantage as you can speak to a representative in person and would generally have a better idea of the banking features, fees, etc. than you would with Internet-only banks.
Can foreigners open a US LLC bank account?
The good news is – Foreigners can easily open a bank account in the US for an LLC, provided they have the proper documentation and meet all the requirements of the bank and the state laws (more on this, later).
Opening a US LLC Bank Account Online – Is It an Option?
Let’s say that for some reasons such as Covid and other travel restrictions, you are not able to travel to the US – What do you do in that case?
Luckily, technology is now advanced enough for you to open a bank account for an LLC easily right from the comfort of your home. If the local bank in your country has a relationship with their US branch, you can easily open a bank account in the US by consulting a representative from your local branch. Although, keep in mind that the minimum deposit plays a huge role when you are opening a bank account in the US remotely. The minimum deposit amount differs for every bank, so you can pick the one that works best for you.
Alternatively, you can also try out neo-banks or challenger banks. These are up-and-coming types of banks that only operate digitally and typically do not have a physical branch. If you have any doubts about challenger banks, they work the same as traditional banks in the US and have the same amount of security. To elaborate, the money deposited in challenger banks is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC so you never have to worry about your funds.
Challenger banks are usually more flexible with accepting applications from non-residents but you need to have a social security number to open one.
Requirements to Open a US Bank Account LLC as a Non-resident
To make sure that you are approved for opening a bank account for an LLC in the USA, you need a few documents. Once you have all your documents in order, you can go ahead and apply to open a business bank account as a non-resident.
1. LLC Approval Document
Since you are opening a bank account for your LLC, you need to show the bank that your LLC is legitimate. You will need Articles of Organization, a Certificate of Organization, and a Certificate of Formation depending on where you are from. You need to send a copy of your stamped and approved documents to the bank you want to open an account with. These documents can be uploaded during the online registration process.
To open a bank account, you will need to provide proper identification. So, be ready with your passport, your proof of residence, and other contact information that the bank will need to open an account for you. Typically, you will need two forms of identification: It can be your driver's license, your government-issued ID card, etc.
3. LLC Location
Of course, you also need to provide the bank with your LLC address – the office location of your LLC and the address of your registered agent. Think of this as an identification but for your LLC. The proof of address for your LLC can be in the form of utility bills or a lease agreement.
4. Employer Identification Number (EIN)
You will need your Employer Identification Number or confirmation letter from the IRS to open a business bank account in the US. EIN is also known as the federal tax ID number and it can be difficult to obtain one without having a social security number. However, it is not impossible. You can get in touch with your bank to see if they accept business bank account applications for people with no EIN or social security number.
5. LLC Operating Agreement
Different from the LLC approval document, your LLC operating agreement states that your business is now approved to start its operations in the US. On the other hand, the LLC approval document only legitimizes the existence of your LLC and has nothing to do with operations. Regardless, make sure you have both before you apply to open a bank account.
6. A US Phone Number For Your LLC
Lastly, it’s always an advantage to have a US phone number for your LLC as it helps banks feel more comfortable doing business with you. Keep in mind that this might not be a strict requirement in every bank, but it is still good to have.
7. Beneficial Ownership
According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN, banks need to identify the real owner of the business before opening any business bank accounts. This applies to both residents and non-residents. The rule was made to avoid any illegal financial activities.
Usually, you should be able to provide all these documents online but in case you are not, contact your bank’s branch manager to figure out an alternative route. You can also send your registered local agent to do the same. However, you should always confirm with the bank beforehand.
Online vs In-Person Banking
As discussed above, you have options when it comes to opening a bank account for your LLC in the US as a non-resident. You can go with traditional and challenger banks and both have their pros and cons.
Some of the pros of having a traditional bank account for your LLC are that these banks have bonafide regulations, are experienced in dealing with non-residents, and typically have a lower minimum balance limit when you are opening an account.
Similarly, challenger banks also have some advantages over traditional banks – the biggest one being the flexibility they provide. They are more open to accepting applications from foreigners and you don’t need to travel thousands of miles just to open a bank account. These banks also have low fees and high conversion rates.
Now, there are a few cons with both banking options. However, don’t let these discourage you from opening a bank account in the US. For traditional banks, you might have to visit different branches of the same bank as chances are that they will have different requirements for opening a bank account. For example, a JP Morgan branch might not let you open a bank account till you have a social security number but if you visit another branch, they will easily open your account without these documents.
When it comes to neo or challenger banks, the minimum balance requirements are typically much higher than in traditional banks. Additionally, you cannot open a challenger bank account till you have a social security number.
You can open a challenger business account in minutes in the US. As a non-resident, you won’t face any problems while opening an online business account. Typically, all you need to do is go to your chosen challenger bank and sign up on the site which typically just needs your email.
From there, you need to provide your business details from a pre-determined list of businesses and services. Then, you provide your identification (ridver’s license, passport, government issued ID card) and connect your local bank account. Now, you only have to wait for 3-5 business days to get your account verified and up and running. The best part about having a challenger bank is the no-minimum balance requirements and the flexibility that comes with it.
Compliance and Regulations
While opening a business bank account as a non-resident is possible, there is a list of regulations that your business must work under to ensure smooth operation. If you have all your documents in order and are not involved in any illegal activities, your business should be fine.
Make sure that you have your business licenses in order, are recording daily operations properly, and are in compliance with your state laws. In the US, compliance and regulations requirements are often different in every state. So, make sure that you are not only aware of this, but also keep yourself updated with any changes in the compliance and regulations requirements.
If you are worried about being non-compliant, you can always get a local agent and have your EIN ready so that you are always compliant.
OFAC Restricted Countries
Because of U.S. sanctions, you won’t be able to open a bank account if you reside in:
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- North Korea
- South Sudan
- Ukraine/Russia (Crimea)
The U.S.-sanctioned countries list changes from time to time, so you will need to check the Sanctions Programs and Country Information issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Now that you know all about how to open a US bank account for your LLC as a non-resident, you can go ahead and pick a bank of your choice. Make sure that the bank services are in line with your business needs, meaning–check the banking features, fees, minimum balance requirements, etc. before opening an account.
Additionally, have all your documents in order to avoid any inconveniences at a later stage. Once you are confident that you have everything you need, you can go ahead and open a bank account for your business in the US.
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