Having an international business and operating in different countries can often be complicated. Different time-zones, language barriers and setting up...
The US is a world leader in global trade, with the largest economy on the planet. So it’s easy to see why businesses from other countries are keen to establish a presence there.
If you’re planning to branch out and start trading in the US, one of the first things you’ll need is a business bank account.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about opening a business bank account in the US. This includes the documentation you’ll need, how to choose the right account type and crucially the costs involved.
We’ll also show you how to save time and money using a quick to open, 100% online multi-currency account with Wise Business.
|📝 Table of contents:|
Although there are thousands of banks operating in the US, not all are willing to offer business bank accounts to non-residents and non-citizens.
Your best chances of success are with what is known as the ‘Big Four’ banks. These are JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America. As these banks are so huge, they have less exposure and so are often more willing to take a risk on a foreigner wanting to open a US business bank account¹.
As for business account types, it all depends on the type and size of your business. Many banks offer flexible, low-fee options for small businesses and start-ups, moving all the way up to premium corporate accounts for large companies with a high number of monthly transactions.
Here are just a handful of the main account types that non-resident business owners can choose from²:
Business checking account – this is the equivalent of a current account in the UK, from which you can send and receive funds and manage your cash flow. Most can be managed online and via mobile banking. Some business checking accounts come with additional features such as card payment acceptance, account alerts and customised checks.
Business savings account – if you need a rainy day or contingency fund, many of the big US banks also offer savings accounts for business customers. This can help you to build your savings and reach your goals, although there may be fees involved for maintaining the account.
Business credit account – some banks offer eligible businesses a Line of Credit, which can give you access to cash for short-term capital or inventory purchases. However, whether or not you’re accepted for a credit account is likely to depend heavily on your credit history. If you’re new to the country, you’re not likely to have much of a credit history in the US, so a credit account may be out of reach just for now.
First things first, in order to open a business bank account in the US, you’ll need to register your company's branch there. You’ll also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which identifies your company to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)³.
When you’re ready to apply for your new business bank account, here’s what you’ll need:
- Proof of ID and personal address for the director opening the account
- Articles of incorporation for the company
- Proof that your business is officially registered in the US
- Proof of business address – depending on the bank, the address may need to be in the same area and state as the branch you’re applying at
- EIN (Employer Identification Number) confirmation
- An initial opening deposit – the minimum deposit varies from bank to bank.
|💡 If your company isn't already registered in the US, you can most definitely use a more flexible alternative like Wise Business and open a multi-currency account. Once you open your business account with Wise you will have access to bank details for 10 countries, including routing number and account number for the US Dollar, so you can pay and get paid like a local.|
It’s always a smart idea to contact the bank in advance to find out exactly what documents you’ll need. This may vary from bank to bank, and different requirements may apply depending on your business type (i.e. LLC, sole trader).
For example, if your business legal type is LLC and you have co-owners who hold 10% or more of the business, you’d need to provide their personal details as well as identification documents.
Luckily, most banks display the list of information and documents needed when you open the account online.
Ready to start shopping around for US business accounts? Follow these steps to get up and running³:
Do your research. Look on the websites for all the major US banks to see which business account types and services they offer. Next, get in touch with each bank to discuss your specific situation and find the right solution for you, including account features and costs.
Register your business in the US and get an EIN. To prevent any delays in getting your account open, it’s best to do these steps as early as possible.
Get your documentation in order. Double-check what you’ll need with the bank, then get everything ready. This includes the minimum required deposit.
Get your new account set up. When you go online to open your account, have a customer service representative to guide you through the process and help you set up your account in a way that suits your business. It’s a chance to ask any questions about fees or features, and to customise your account if this option is available.
If you hope for a simpler way to pay and get paid when doing business in the US, Wise can be a better option. You can open Wise Business account online, however you and your company will need to submit documents and go through a verification process.
Wise is not a bank, but is regulated by numerous financial authorities, so your finances and your business are in safe hands.
See below Wise Business account requirements:
- Register to Wise Business - the first step in order to start your verification process.
- Share documents of the company - like business registration, where the company is located, which industry are you in, the company's online and social presence, and some personal information for all stakeholders.
- Share some personal information - details to verify your identity as owner of the account. If you are not a director of the company you will also need to share additional information to prove you are authorised to act on behalf of the business.
- Set up and pay a one-time fee- for UK-based businesses, there is a 45 GBP one-time registration fee before you opening account details.
- Wise process the documents - you'll be informed if there is any extra information needed to verify you or your business. The process usually takes 10 working days.
- Verification done - you will receive a confirmation email once your account is verified.
|⚠️ Important: some countries have specific requirements. You can check all the details on our Help Page|
To give you an idea of how much a business bank account in the US will cost you, let’s take a look at the fees and charges for checking accounts at JPMorgan Chase – the largest bank in the US.
|Types of fee||Charge/amount|
|Monthly service fee⁴||$0 to $95 – depending on account type and whether you meet the conditions for waiving the service fee|
|Accepting card payments⁵||2.6% to 3.5% + $0.10 per transaction|
|International payment charges||$5 to $50 per transfer depending on method used|
|ATM withdrawal fees||$0 if using a Chase ATM |
$3 to $5 if using a non-Chase ATM
As you can see, opening and using a US-based bank account from the UK can be complex and transactions are quite expensive. A far cheaper and simpler option is available though.
- Send money for more than 80 countries;
- Receive international payments;
- Hold and convert money in more than 50 currencies;
- Provide expense cards for your employees;
- Connect other managements tools like Xero or Quickbooks to automatically sync your activity;
- And use some more features to help you save time and money while growing your business internationally.
After reading this guide, you should have a good idea of the requirements for opening a business bank account in the US. Most importantly – make sure you have all your documentation in order, to prevent any delays.
Sources checked on 02/11/2022.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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