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.
- The company is officially registered in NY state as a domestic or foreign LLC
- You as a person can prove your personal US address
- 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.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