If you want to accept US payments, open a US merchant account, or open a physical branch office in the US (or for any other purpose), then you’ll need to open a US bank account. Unfortunately, this has become significantly more difficult in recent years due to various US anti-terrorism laws, but there are still several options (depending on your home country) that may make this process easier. The important thing to realize is that it is going to take a bit of research and is highly dependent on variables which are ultimately out of our (and your) control.
You can come to the U.S. or have a very very trusted relative or friend take 1% ownership interest to open the account for you – however, your names should be disclosed on the State filing documents. Contact the local bank branch office (Do Not contact the online or 1-800 customer service contacts; they will often provide incorrect information) that you are interested in working with. Chase Bank in New York City is probably the most accommodating. Once confirmed that your friend can open the account, have your friend make an appointment at the location and with the person your friend speaks to. Your friend might have to be listed as part owner (i.e. 1% Owner) or agent of your Company. Keep in mind this person will have full control of the account & assets.
Tip #1: ALWAYS CALL THE BANK FIRST. Don’t assume you have everything you need to open a bank account with a certain bank. Banks vary wildly on what they require to open an account. For example, some will require a “Certified Copy” of your formation documents, “Banking Resolution” or other documents that other banks will not. It’s good to shop around a bit, call a few banks and find out the specifics before you waste a trip to their office. If the bank requires a US physical address, you’ll want to ask them if the address must be in the state where the company is formed or can it be in any US state – these are important things to know if you need to arrange for a physical US address or virtual office (discussed below).
Tip #2: Form your Company in Delaware, Nevada or Wyoming. Major international banks that operate in these states are far more experienced with international clients due to their existing high volume of international clients and corporate banking in general. This is especially true if you do not intend to have a physical address or have somebody representing the company in the US that can physically walk into a branch. Most banks will require you have some type of physical address based in the United States (discussed below) that is NOT your Registered Agent address. Some banks may accept your Registered Agent address for opening the bank account, but you will need to arrange to have your bank statements, etc. routed through either a mail forwarding service or have them delivered electronically.
Tip #3: Select a bank that also has a branch in your home country. If you select a bank that has both a presence in your US state of formation and your home country, many times you can simply walk into the local branch in your country to open the bank account.
Banks that have a large international presence include (check their website for a local branch):
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