If you’re looking to do business in the United States, one of the most important things you’ll need is a US bank account. If you’re running or plan to run a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you’ll need a dedicated business bank account that meets your needs. A personal account simply won’t cut it.
But just how easy or difficult is it to open a US bank account for LLC as a non-resident? Read on for all the essential info you need, including whether you can open an account online and the documents you’ll need to apply.
If you’re sending money back to the UK from the US, you could save a bundle with a Wise multi-currency account. Banks tend to charge high foreign transaction fees, but you’ll only pay a tiny fee and get the real, mid market exchange rate when you use Wise to send money internationally.
But more on that later. For now, let’s focus on opening your new LLC account in the US.
You don’t need to be a US citizen or permanent resident to open a business account in the US. However, you can’t open a business account for a foreign entity. This means that before you do anything else, you’ll need to officially register your LLC in the US.
You won’t be able to open a US LLC bank account as a non-resident until your LLC has been approved and you’ve been issued with an EIN (Employer Identification Number)¹. This is a unique 9-digit number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to officially identify your business.
With all the formalities out the way, you should be ready to open your new business bank account.
In terms of which bank to choose, one of the major institutions is likely to be the most foreigner friendly option. For example, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase or Citibank. However, you can also look into digital and mobile banks in the US, to see if they have LLC accounts that suit your needs.
If you don’t have a business that is registered in the US and just need a business account to accept and send payments in USD, you can consider quick to open business accounts like Wise for Business.
In most cases, you’ll need to actually visit the US bank in person to open your LLC account. You may be able to start your application online, but you’ll have to present yourself at a US branch of the bank to hand in your documents. For people not already living in the US, this means a special trip - just for an appointment at the bank.
However, there are some US banks that will let foreigners open an LLC account online. For example, Mercury, a relatively new company which offers bank accounts just for startups, lets you open an account online without having to visit in person².
There’s another potential option too. If you already have a personal bank account with a US bank, it may be possible to open a new LLC account remotely as an existing customer.
Ready to open your LLC account? There are a few important things to know. The first crucial point is that the bank you choose must have a presence in the state your LLC was formed in¹.
Secondly, it’s always a good idea to contact the bank in advance to find out about their requirements for opening an account. If you’ll be making a trip over to the US just to open your new account, you don’t want to forget any crucial documents. So, make sure you get in touch to find out the requirements, documents and processes for opening an account as a non-resident at that particular bank.
The requirements can vary from bank to bank, but generally you’ll need the following documents to open a US LLC bank account as a non-resident¹:
- LLC approval documents, such as your Certificate and Articles of Organization
- Your EIN verification or confirmation letter from the IRS
- Two forms of identification, such as your UK passport and UK driving licence
- Your LLC Operating Agreement
- Proof of address for your LLC - such as a lease agreement or utility bill
- A US phone number for your LLC (not always required - but it can potentially help the bank feel more comfortable doing business with you).
At this point, a quick note on the Employer Identification Number (EIN). As a non resident, you may struggle to get an EIN without first having a Social Security Number (SSN).
If this is the case but you still need a business bank account, you’ll need to get in touch with your shortlist of banks to see if they will accept applications from foreigners without either an SSN or EIN.
Once you’ve got your US LLC bank account sorted, you’ll be able to use this for all your business transactions within the United States. But if you plan to send money between the US and the UK, or anywhere else in the world, this bank account won’t be the cheapest way to do it.
Use either your US or UK bank for international transfers and you could pay a small fortune in foreign transfer fees. Plus, you’re likely to lose money on unfavourable exchange rates due to an expensive mark-up added on top.
A cheaper way to manage international payments is Wise. Open a multi-currency account with Wise and you can whizz money all over the world for tiny fees and the real, mid-market exchange rate.
You can even spend like a local, in the UK, US and 200+ countries, using the Wise debit Mastercard. You won’t pay any foreign transaction fees for using your card, only a tiny fee to convert currency using the mid-market rate. If you already have the currency in your account, it’s free.
So, after reading this guide, you should be all set to open your new US LLC account. There are of course some hoops to jump through, and paperwork to sort out. But once you’re set up, you’ll have access to all the US banking services you need to run your business over in the States. Good luck!
Sources used for this article:
Sources checked on 22-March-2021.
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