How Foreigners Can Open a Checking Account in the U.S.
Are you interested in opening a checking account in the U.S. but you aren’t sure if it’s possible? Maybe you’ve become discouraged and confused after researching it without finding a clear answer.
Can a foreigner open a bank account in the U.S.?
Yes, it’s definitely possible to open a checking account in the U.S. as a non-citizen. However, not every bank or credit union will permit you to do so. Also, although the process is not complicated, you will most likely be required to visit the financial institution in person to verify your identity and complete the account setup process.
Why Would a Foreigner Need a Checking Account in the U.S.?
We now live in a global economy. Technological innovations have opened new markets for many that were previously inaccessible. With many people now working remotely and doing their shopping across international borders, having a checking account in the U.S. makes it easier to receive payments and make purchases.
You Do Business in the U.S.
As many international service providers and other merchants have discovered, doing business in the U.S. can be very lucrative. Receiving payment from international clients, however, can be difficult. Many online payment processors, for example, only work with people who live in certain countries.
If you have a checking account with a bank or credit union in the U.S., receiving payment from U.S. clients is much easier. You can then periodically transfer the funds to a bank account in your home country.
You Plan on Visiting the U.S. on a Long-Term Visa
If you have acquired a student visa, work visa, or some other visa that permits you to stay in the U.S. long-term, you will want a checking account with a U.S. bank or credit union to simplify receiving money and making payments.
If you have a checking account in the U.S., you will also receive a debit card that you can use to make purchases. These cards are accepted by most retailers, restaurants, and other places.
If you are living and working in the U.S., your employer may also prefer to pay you by direct deposit. You will need a checking account from a bank or credit union in the U.S. to receive payments this way.
Your Country’s Economy and Currency Are Unstable
Not all countries enjoy stable economies. Due to political unrest, weak central governments, corruption, and other factors, many international currencies experience extreme fluctuations in their purchasing power.
A checking account in the U.S. gives you a place to protect your money from theft or the declining value of a local currency due to inflation or other factors. The U.S. dollar is the most commonly used currency in the world, and it makes up over 60% of all central banks’ reserves. The dollar is stable, and it is used often in international business transactions.
Unlike banks in many countries, checking accounts in the U.S. are insured for up to $250,000. This is an important consideration if you are concerned about a bank failure in your country. In the U.S., insurance protects checking account deposits in the unlikely event of a bank or credit union failure.
Banks are insured by a government agency known as the Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Credit Unions are insured by a government agency known as the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
How Does a Foreigner Open a Checking Account in the U.S.?
A common problem that many foreigners encounter when trying to open a checking account in the U.S. is the lack of a social security number. Most financial institutions require this information to open an account. There are some banks and credit unions, however, that will permit foreigners to open checking accounts with alternate forms of identification.
1. Contact Banks and Credit Unions
If you will be living in the U.S. for an extended period, it’s best to choose a bank or credit union that will be as close to you as possible. The best way to do this is to contact the financial institutions in the community you will be living in and ask if they offer foreign checking accounts. If so, ask them what forms of identification they will accept.
Identification requirements will vary. A passport is the most common form of identification requested for foreigners, although some will have additional requirements like proof of a physical address in the U.S.
If you are unable to find a financial institution that offers special checking accounts for foreigners, another option to consider is to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Foreigners who work in the U.S. are required to pay income taxes to the U.S. government, and the ITIN is used in place of a social security number for these individuals when filing their taxes. Many banks and credit unions will allow foreigners to open a checking account with an ITIN.
2. Apply for an Account
Some banks and credit unions give you the option to apply for a foreign checking account online. You can then verify your identification in person at one of their branches. Information you will need to provide when applying includes:
- Your full name
- Date of birth
- Other information as requested
Depending on the financial institution, you may be required to apply in person. Be sure you find out what identification and other information you will need to provide before you arrive to make sure you don’t encounter any problems.
3. Verify Your Documents
To complete the process of opening a checking account in the U.S., you will need to verify your identification and other requested documentation in person. If a bank or credit union permits you to apply for an account online, a representative will be able to pull your application up when you arrive and quickly verify your information to complete the process.
Sign Up for a Non-Resident Checking Account
Red River Credit Union’s non-resident checking account can be established with either a passport or Matricula Consular. There are no minimum balance requirements, and there are also no monthly fees when you sign up for eStatements. Enjoy online and mobile banking with the account and a free Visa debit card.
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