How to open a US Stripe account from Australia
In its simplest form, Stripe is a payment processing platform that lets you transfer and receive money directly to your bank account by way of a credit or debit card. It acts as both a third-party payment system and a payment gateway itself.
You can use Stripe payments to accept most major credit cards, virtual cards as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay. It features an embeddable widget that you can add to your website to act as your checkout, and you can even receive a mobile card reader for in-person payments.
Stripe is the platform of choice for big names like Pinterest, Udemy, and Lyft and lets businesses power their e-commerce, providing a secure, reliable portal for their customers.
Normally, Australian Stripe accounts will only allow you to withdraw funds in AUD, regardless of what currency the account collects in. This means you're at the mercy of Stripe's FX rates and conversion fees which easily eat into your profit margin. Opening a US Stripe account allows you to connect a USD bank account and withdraw USD, rather than having to convert it back to AUD before withdrawing.
Now, despite being one of the most popular payment processors in the world, there’s no option (yet) for opening a US Stripe account from Australia. So if you’re keen to try out this platform you’ll need to open a US Stripe account.
Be warned: they don’t make it easy.
But while time-consuming, it can be done. Here are the steps you can take to open a US Stripe account from Australia.
1. The requirements for opening a US Stripe account
You’ll need all these pieces of information before you open your account.
An EIN number
Employee Identification Number is your US Federal Tax ID, which you’ll need when setting up your account. Now, this step can take some time, so we recommend setting aside a morning for this process.
You can read about this process in more detail here, but here’s the run-down:
To set one up, head to the US IRS website, and fill out an SS-4 form to get your EIN details ready.
Then, make an international phone call (267-941-1099) to the IRS, between 6am and 11pm EST (8pm - 1pm, AEST).
Follow the prompts and you’ll be taken to their EIN service. You’ll then speak with someone who will help you fill out your EIN registration over the phone.
Once you’ve finished, they’ll issue you with your EIN, which you can start using immediately. Be sure to write your number down so you don’t forget it.
A physical location in the US
There are a number of services you can use to have a physical US address for your business, rather than simply a PO box.
A US phone number
You can actually use Skype to generate a US phone number. If this doesn’t work, again, you can head to Google where you’ll find a selection of virtual number providers who offer this service.
A government-issued ID, from any country
You can use your Australian passport for this.
A physical US bank account
With Airwallex, you can create a USD Dollar Global Account with US bank account details. When you open your Global Account you’ll receive your account number which you can then use to send and receive money within the US, and link to your Stripe store to receive funds.
A working website that shows what your business sells or the services you provide
As a business, you probably have a working website already. But if you’re only just setting up your e-commerce business, check out our guide to setting up shop as an online business.
2. Completing your Stripe sign-up
Once you’ve got all the information you need, here’s how to actually set up your account.
Head to Stripe to register your account.
Punch in your account details, and create your account. You’ll then be able to log in to your Stripe dashboard.
Once you’ve logged in to your dashboard, look for the Test/Live switch. Hit the switch and a pop up should appear.
Click the ‘Activate account’ button in the pop-up window, and you’ll be able to fill out your business details. You’ll need to enter your business details, including your Airwallex USD Global Account information.
Hit submit, and then Stripe will contact you by email to confirm your account.
When you do receive the email, they’ll likely ask about your Social Security Number (SSN). While you don’t have an SSN, you do have an EIN with a valid ID that you can use as your tax ID instead.
You should then receive a second email with a link where you can verify your ID.
Once your ID has been verified you can start accepting payments with your active US Stripe account. To keep your account active, make sure you receive a payment within seven days.
Fast-track your eCommerce business into the US with Airwallex
While international borders are shrinking, it’s still not easy to set up a bank account in another country.
Airwallex is changing that. An Airwallex USD Foreign Currency Account allows you to create a USD account without the need to even leave your office. With this account, you can send and receive USD directly and keep all your USD in one spot, without the need to exchange any currency.
When it's time to transfer your money to your Australian account, we won’t slug you any transfer fees as the banks do. All you’ll pay is a minimal fee of just 0.3% on top of the interbank FX rate, meaning you get an exchange rate that’s up to 90% cheaper than the big banks or Stripe's own FX rates.
Book a free demo with us today to learn more about how we can help you make your international payment flow easy, even when you’re on the other side of the world.
Related article: The Best Payment Gateways for International eCommerce
Our products and services in Australia are provided by Airwallex Pty Ltd ABN 37 609 653 312 who holds AFSL 487221. Any information provided is for general information purposes only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read and consider the Product Disclosure Statement available on our website before using our service.
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