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Can a Foreign National (non-US-Citizen) Open Up a US-Based Bank Account?

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  5. Can a Foreign National (non-US-Citizen) Open Up a US-Based Bank Account?

The quick answer is “yes,” but US federal law requires that banks “know who they are banking with.” Banks have varying policies on what that means, but in general, most banks want you to come into a branch located in the US to open up a US-based bank account.

Some banks (such as BBVA Compass in the US) are owned by larger foreign-based banks (BBVA outside the US). I’ve heard its possible to open up an account in a foreign country, and have that account be accessible and available in the US, although I am not personally experienced with this.

What a foreign national does NOT WANT TO DO, is hire a US-based resident to open a bank account in the US for them. There are several reasons for this. First, the only way to do this is for the US-based resident to have some sort of ownership or control over the company. Second, because of this ownership or control, such US-based residents can be criminally liable if the account is used for criminal, terrorist or other nefarious activities. Therefore, three, only the very stupid or the criminal will be willing to open up such an account. See our other knowledge-base article about this.

Given all of that, our recommendation is one of the following:

  • Determine which of your local banks also does banking in the US, and consult with them to determine whether they can provide the type of bank account you’re looking for,
  • Make a trip to the US, to open a bank account personally, or
  • See if a reputable “Internet bank” can provide the services you need (i.e. PayPal).

What we cannot do — as lawyers — is open a bank account for you. We can certainly form an Anonymous LLC for you, with foreign ownership, but we cannot open a bank account.

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