Opening bank account for US business -my experience

This could be very tricky and there is no general advice. At first, I will tell you the story of how I successfully opened bank account for my US LLC and at the end of the article some summary. In 2017-2018 I was in Toronto on Working holiday visa in Canada. I decided to establish my first US company and because of tax benefits, I formed LLC fully online in Wyoming. After receiving ITIN number I wanted to open bank account. Without bank account, it’s hard to start any business especially today in the modern world when you need somehow receive payments from your customers right. I remember I wanted to open a bank account in some Wyoming’s bank so I called some banks and sent many emails and thought they would be able to open by phone or online. Every call or email started similarly: We can open a bank account for your company if you have SSN. If you don’t know what SSN is read this. Of course, I did not have SSN as a foreigner.

Okay, what now? I had Wyoming LLC but cannot open bank account from Toronto. I considered the option I would fly to Wyoming and try to open a bank account in person. Flights were very expensive so I decided to rent a car and go to Niagara Falls in state of New York. It’s only 1.5 hours by car. That day I visited over 5 different banks and they had usually two requirements.

  1. The company is officially registered in NY state as a domestic or foreign LLC
  2. You as a person can prove your personal US address
  3. Sometimes they wanted SSN

I was desperate because in less than a week I was going back to Europe and definitely wanted to have prepared US company for some business including bank account.

Finally, I visited Key Bank and talked to the nice bank clerk and she told me that they only want to that the company is registered in NY. I was happy and tell her I’ll be back when my LLC is registered in NY. During the way back to Toronto I checked Niagara Falls.

niagara-falls
Niagara Falls - February 2018

After arriving I immediately registered my WY LLC in state NY as a foreign LLC. We will talk about this topic, what is domestic and what is a foreign LLC in a different post. A few days later I visited that bank branch again and successfully opened checking bank account and apply for my first debit business card!

This story might sound crazy and it is. But trust me I heard many similar crazy stories from other entrepreneurs that it wasn’t easy for them to open bank account.

Summary:

Before you want to open bank for you US business have prepared this:

  • form business entity such a LLC or another different type of company
  • have physical address for your company in US
  • have already ITIN number for your company
  • visit banks in person in the same state where your company is registered
  • bring personal IDs such a passport or driver’s licence
  • bring articles of organization

I hope this article will help you to avoid the same struggle that I had!

I also found this company. They should be able to open a bank account for your US company when you are not US resident. They claim it is possible online and you don’t have to be even in person in the US. However, I don’t have personal experience with them so search more by yourself.

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