How to open a bank account in the US as a non-resident
Whether you are an international student, expat, relocating to the US, or simply want to take advantage of the benefits of an American bank account, there are plenty of reasons why non-residents want to open US bank accounts. A US bank account allows you to pay bills, receive direct payments, and access ATMs, all the while avoiding expensive conversion rates from foreign banks.
Unfortunately, many US financial institutions do not allow non-residents to open US bank accounts. However, that doesn’t mean foreigners aren’t able to open a US bank account without a US address.
In this guide, we’ll look at how to open a US bank account as a non-resident, as well as the benefits of a US bank account and the documents needed to open a US bank account as a foreigner.
Can a foreigner open a bank account in the US?
Yes, a foreigner can open a bank account in the US without needing a US address. However, not all banking institutions allow for it. Even traditional banks that do offer accounts to non-residents often have requirements – like opening the account in person – that make it difficult for non-residents to apply.
As such, many foreigners find it challenging to gain access to the local US banking system, which can cause them to rely on cash in a digital economy or force them to turn to foreign banks, which typically charge excessive foreign exchange fees.
Since not all foreigners are able to travel to the US to open a bank account, they need online solutions that enable them to leverage all the benefits of a US bank without having to physically be present in the United States.
Benefits of opening a US bank account
There are many benefits to opening a US bank account as a non-resident. These include:
- Pay bills
- Receive direct payments
- Access ATMs without incurring high conversion rates
- Build a financial history
- Leverage the stability of the US dollar
Additionally, having a USD-denominated bank account offers distinct advantages. The stability of the US dollar as the global reserve currency ensures the safety of your funds against market shifts. You can avoid currency volatility and hyperinflation seen in some local currencies. Plus, transacting directly in dollars eliminates foreign exchange fees, benefitting freelancers, digital nomads, and businesses with cross-border operations. It’s a secure and efficient choice for financial stability and seamless international dealings.
How to open a US bank account online
While opening a US bank account online as a non-resident is possible, it might take a few more steps than opening an account with a local bank. As a non-resident, you will need to provide certain documents to apply for a non-resident US bank account.
Documents needed to apply
To apply for a US bank account as a non-resident, you will need to provide the following documents:
Passport – a government-issued passport serves as your proof of identification. You may be asked to provide a second form of identification, as well. In this case, a state-issued ID card or driver’s license will work.
Proof of address – this document must include the applicant’s name and the address being used on the application. Ideally, this address should also match the address on the provided passport. Documents that can serve as proof of address include:
- Utility bill, no more than three months old
- Bank statement, no more than three months old
- Valid driver’s license
- Lease/mortgage agreement
- Property tax receipt
- College enrolment papers
- Insurance card
- Voter registration card
- Valid government-issued document
While just your passport and proof of address are needed for the application process, you will need to provide additional documents afterwards. These include:
Taxpayer document – for non-US citizens, you need to submit a completed W-8 BEN form. US citizens must submit a completed W-9 form. If you do not have a Social Security number, you will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS.
Proof of income – this can include the following documents:
- Copy of your employment contract
- Employment verification letter
- Tax returns or forms from previous financial year
- A bank statement showing direct deposit into your account
- Unemployment benefit statement
- Pension distribution statement
How much does it cost to open a US bank account?
The cost of opening a US bank account depends on the type of bank you use. Since most traditional banking institutions make money from lending out money, they often do not charge a fee to open a bank account. However, they may charge small monthly fees or transfer fees depending on the account.
Other banking institutions that do not lend money may charge an application fee and monthly fees to cover costs. Therefore, the cost to open and operate a US bank account depends on the account type and the banking institution you use.
Steps to open a US bank account online as a non-resident with Zenus Bank
Zenus Bank makes opening a US bank account online as a non-resident easy and hassle-free for people from 180+ countries and territories. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Prepare the required documents
- Install the Zenus Bank app and complete the application form
- Upon approval of your account, we will promptly notify you.
If you are a non-resident looking for a US bank account, Zenus Bank’s accounts for non-residents are the perfect way to enjoy the benefits of a US bank account without having to be a resident of the country. Get started today with the application process and begin leveraging all the benefits a US bank account has to offer!
How to open a US bank account FAQ
Can a non-resident alien open a US bank account?
Yes, non-resident aliens are able to open US bank accounts. They still need to provide the required documentation to prove their identity, address, and employment as well as a US Taxpayer document.
Do you need a Social Security number to open a US bank account?
While having an SSN is useful for opening a US bank account, it is not necessary. However, if you do not have an SSN, you will need to obtain an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS. Individuals who reside in a foreign country and are subject to that country's tax regulations must obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) or equivalent from their own country.
How long does it take to open a US bank account?
If you are a non-resident applying for a US bank account online, you will need to wait until all your documents have been reviewed and approved before you are able to access the bank account. Given the heightened compliance requirements, an account can be opened on the same day provided there are no discrepancies with your documents, or it might take longer.
In conclusion, opening a US bank account as a non-resident is indeed possible, though it may present certain challenges. While not all banking institutions allow for it, Zenus Bank offers a convenient and accessible solution for those seeking to enjoy the advantages of a US bank account without the need for residency. Apply for a Zenus account today from more than 180 countries and territories and tap into the benefits that a US bank account has to offer!