Can a foreigner open a bank account in the US?

Panna Kemenes

Most US banks only allow residents to open an account. However, with a bit of research you’ll still be able to find a US bank account for non-residents, whether that’s in a branch or online.

There are several viable options to open a US bank account as a non-resident. This post will cover every option and the most pressing questions on the topic, to give you a clear idea of what each one entails.

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional banks, you can get a Wise account. Wise offers US details for residents and non-residents alike⁹.

Avoid bank appointments, and start spending as soon as you arrive!


Can a non citizen open a bank account in the US?

It can be tough to open a bank account in the US as a non-resident.

It’s not impossible, though, so don’t get discouraged!

Many US banks ask for proof of address and a Social Security number to set up an account. Given that you won’t have these as a non-resident, you’ll need to consider alternatives.

There are a few options, and you can learn about them throughout this post.

Can a nonresident alien open a US bank account?

If you’re a non-resident alien you can still open a non US resident bank account, although your choices may be limited. For example, you may still need to provide a US address for correspondence, even if you’re not living here full time.

If what’s important is to open an account which can hold and exchange USD there are other solutions, though — such as expat and international banking services from mainstream banks, or low cost online alternatives like Wise. More on that later.

Is it possible for non-residents to open a US bank account online?

It’s common to be asked to open your account in person when dealing with a traditional bank — even if it’s an account specifically aimed at non-residents. This can mean you’re able to start your application online but you’ll still need to visit a branch to show your ID and get your account fully up and running.

If opening your account online is the most important consideration, you might be better off choosing a specialist account which can hold, exchange and receive USD alongside other currencies.

These multi-currency accounts often come from online and digital providers which are set up with an onboarding process you can do from home — no matter where that happens to be.

How to open a US bank account as a foreigner: main options

There are several ways to set up a bank account, even if you don’t have resident status yet.

Get an account in a traditional bank

If you’re already living in the US and have proof of address, but do not have the resident status yet, you can apply for a bank account in person.

To open a bank account as a non-resident, you’ll usually need the following documents¹:

  • Proof of address with contact information and personal details

  • Two forms of ID — Passport and government-issued ID or valid driver's license

  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number

How to apply without a Social Security number

Usually, the bank will ask for a Social Security number. Fortunately, there’s an alternative called the ITIN.

With an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) you can set up a bank account. To get your hands on one, fill out the IRS Form W-7, IRS Application for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. You can find this on the IRS website².

See if your current (non-US) bank can help

If you already have a bank account outside of the US it’s worth asking if that provider has a relationship with a US-based bank.

Sometimes banks work in partnership to help customers open accounts overseas — or you may find your own local bank has an operation in the US through a subsidiary.

To confirm whether this is a possibility for you, reach out to your bank and submit a query.

Open an international account

One of the advantages of living in a globalized world is that it’s simple to access international services.

One option is an account with the international or expat banking arm of a global bank. However, you’ll need to invest a lot of cash to get the ball rolling.

Depending on the bank in question, the initial deposit sum can be as much as 100,000 USD³, or even more if you want relationship management services.

There’s also usually a condition that requires you to keep a significant balance as a minimum.

Get a Wise account

Meet Wise

As a financially-savvy individual, you’ll know you have limited options for setting up a US bank account as a non-resident.

With that in mind, why not consider something different?

The Wise account helps you manage your money wherever you are. You can get a US routing number and account number, and anyone can use these to pay you — just like a local⁹.

If you travel or do business internationally, you’ll know how important it is to convert money at a reasonable exchange rate.

With the Wise account you convert at the mid-market exchange rate, the same one you find on Google, this way you know how much it will cost you, with no hidden fees⁷ or surprises in the end.

Get a Wise account

Can you open a US bank account from overseas??

It is possible in theory to set up a US bank account online from abroad — but in practice it’s usually hard to find a traditional bank which will let foreigners get full access to an account online.

That may mean you can start your application remotely, but need to attend a branch to get verified, for example.

Check out dedicated digital account providers as an alternative, as these offer ways to get set up with accounts online or through apps, which often means you can get started wherever in the world you may be.

Types of US bank accounts

There are two main types of US bank accounts, and each one serves a different kind of client. The first type of account focuses on the individual and the other targets businesses.

Personal account

The first type of bank account is a personal account.

A personal account is for reaching your individual financial goals. Both checking and savings accounts fall into this category.

The checking account is the most common bank account, and it’s the first one you’ll want to set up. This should be the account for your main income and expenses.

You can deposit money with a savings account that you don’t plan on spending right away. The money in this account gains interest over time, though it isn’t free money since interest is taxable income.

Corporate account

The other main type of account is a corporate account.

As the name suggests, the corporate account is for businesses. Opening a business bank account in the US typically involves more documents — and more formalities — compared to opening a personal account.

You can read this post on how to open a business bank account in the US to find out more, or check out our comparison of the best business checking accounts to find the right one for you.

💡 Did you know that Wise also offers a business account?

Some key features of Wise Business include:
  • Better visibility and organization of business finances. This is helpful for account reconciliations and audits
  • Major local account details for a simple one-off fee to receive international payments with ease
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Receive payments from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or via Stripe
  • Create invoices using the free Wise invoice generator or invoice templates
  • Accounting integrations, including a QuickBooks Bill Pay connection
  • Batch payment options. Fast payment of up to 1,000 people

Discover the difference between
Wise Business vs Personal

Which US banks offer bank accounts for non-residents?

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular US banks and the non-resident accounts for foreigners on offer.

JPMorgan Chase⁴

As the biggest bank in the USA, Chase, as it’s known to its customers, has bank accounts for every need and every customer. Whether it’s a checking account without fees you want, or a corporate account for your business, you can find it with Chase.

As a non-resident you’ll be pointed towards their international business which has a focus on high wealth individuals looking for investment and account management support.

Bank of America⁵

Bank of America is an interesting option with accounts which cover everything from everyday banking to company checking accounts. Bank of America accounts for non-residents do also exist, but you may need a US address to apply, making this more of a solution for people living between the US and another country.


Citibank is a global banking giant with a huge network and full range of accounts on offer for individuals and business customers.

If you’re not a US resident — either as a US citizen moving overseas, or a foreigner coming to the US — there are options from the Citi international personal banking arm, which may suit.

What will you need to open a US bank account?

Setting up a bank account once you are a US resident is easy, provided you have the necessary documents.

📄 The documents you’ll need can vary, but make sure you have the following:
  • Your full US address, with contact information and personal details

  • Two forms of ID, such as a passport or driver’s license

  • A valid visa or Green Card

  • ITIN or Social Security Number (SSN)

It’s also worth having some cash handy since you might need to make an initial deposit to set up the account.

Can you open a bank account without a US address?

If you’re wondering how to open a bank account in the USA from overseas, without a US proof of address, you have a couple of options.

You may be able to open a non-resident account from a traditional bank’s international or expat banking arm — although this may involve a high minimum deposit requirement.

Or you could find you’re better off with a flexible online account from a modern digital provider which offers multi-currency accounts including USD bank details.

💡 You can also check out this guide on how to open a bank account in the USA for more information on the process.

Wise — an easy way to get USD account details for non-residents

Opening a bank account in America can be a bit of a nightmare for non-residents. Visiting in person may not be possible, and international bank accounts require a hefty financial commitment.

If your local bank has a correspondent banking relationship, this could be a good solution for you — but it could take some time to set up. It’s worth calling your bank and seeing how they can help.

If you need a fast and low-cost way to send and receive USD, then try Wise. After the fast registration, all you need to verify your identity is your government ID.⁸. You can then top-up your account and start spending around the world!

Get started with Wise 🚀


  1. Chase Bank - documents
  2. IRS - ITIN number
  3. Barclays
  4. Chase - non-US clients
  5. Bank of America - international banking
  6. Citibank - international personal bank
  7. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: only pay for what you use for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  8. Wise may request additional documents to verify a customer's identity
  9. Eligibility is subject to verification of customers identity

Sources checked on 08.26.2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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