How to open a US business bank account from the UK
- •The benefits of opening a US business bank account in the UK
- •How to open a US bank account in the US
- •A simpler alternative
- •Expected fees to pay on a US bank account
- •The two big hurdles to opening a US bank account as a non-resident
- •Can I open a US bank account online?
- •Some banks allow what’s known as an International Account
- •An Airwallex USD Global Account is your ticket to banking in the US
We’ll be honest: whether you’re a business or an individual, it can be a challenge to open a business bank account in the US from the UK, particularly not without a flight across the pond to do so in person.
But it’s not impossible.
The benefits of opening a US business bank account in the UK
Opening a US business bank account opens doors to one of the largest free markets in the world. You’re able to use it to sell within the US itself, and easily get paid in USD, a huge selling point for American customers, whilst also avoiding the fees you’d otherwise pay as an international business. You can link your US account to your online sales platforms, allowing you to sell on Amazon US, and link it to your PayPal and Shopify accounts so you can withdraw the money you make, spending less on conversion fees and keeping more of your profit for yourself.
You can even connect it to your virtual cards, which then allows you to pay for software subscriptions in USD, and avoid the exchange fees.
How to open a US bank account in the US
If you’re asking ‘what do I need to open a business bank account in the USA?’ then honestly, the process isn’t as onerous as you may think. To make this as simple as possible, here’s a step-by-step guide outlining how to open a bank account in the USA.
Step 1. Do your research, and choose the bank that’s right for your business needs. Be sure to check their fees, services, and fine print.
Step 2. Head online, or head into your chosen bank branch, and begin the process to open an account.
Step 3. Be sure to bring all the necessary US bank business account requirements. These include:
Photo ID of the business' director that's opening the account—in this case, you.
Documents to prove your business' incorporation.
Your business licence.
Confirmation of your EIN. you can read how to get one here.
Proof of your business' US address. To prove your address, you can use:
Proof of address from a US employer, a university, etc, such as a payslip or official letter.
A simpler alternative
As you can see, opening a US account from the UK can quickly become unobtainable if you do not have a registered US business address or an EIN. There are much easier ways to open a US account internationally, such as an Airwallex business account with gives you instant access to designated USD account details. But more on this later.
Expected fees to pay on a US bank account
When you open a US bank account you can enjoy the luxury of not paying foreign transfer fees on every payment you receive in US dollars.
But it’s still a bank account, so there are other fees you’ve got to take into account.
Monthly fees. Some US banks will charge you a monthly fee just to have an account with them. These can range from $0-fee accounts to $12 or more per month. Some banks will waive these fees if you keep a minimum threshold amount in your account.
ATM fees. Many US banks also still charge ATM fees. These include fees for using the ATM of a different banking provider. These can vary, ranging from low, to $2.50, to $5 or more per transaction
Teller fees. As technology evolves, banks are encouraging their customers to do their day-to-day banking online wherever possible. So, some banks have started charging a fee to interact with a real-life, flesh-and-blood bank teller. This is usually around $3-$5 for daily transactions, with international transactions incurring their own set of fees.
International transfer fees. International transfer fees in America can vary wildly, starting at approximately $15 and going up to as high as $45 per individual transfer.
Account closure fees. Not all banks do this, but you may be charged a fee for closing your account with a US bank. This is typically charged when you close it within a short timeframe, such as 90 or 180 days. The average fee is $25, but some banks can charge up to $50.
Annual card fees. Much the same as your UK-issued card, US card fees are a moving target. Some US card products offer low fees, but with a higher interest rate; others charge a flat annual fee, and some are ‘premium’ cards with higher fees, but rewards point offers.
Poor FX rates when transferring money. When dealing with a US bank, you’ll likely encounter poor FX rates when transferring money from your US account to your UK account, or into another currency.
But the challenge for most is actually opening a US bank account as a non-resident in the first place.
The two big hurdles to opening a US bank account as a non-resident
So here’s the thing. A US bank needs to check that you’re a US resident in order to open a business bank account—so you need the documentation to prove it.
The reason that it’s so hard to open a US bank account as a non-resident harks back to the 2001 Patriot Act that changed the US banking landscape. Provisions were added to the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act that made it a requirement for banks to collect and verify personal information for customers opening a bank account.
These are the two key pieces of information you need to prove your legitimacy.
A Social Security Number
To get a Social Security Number you first need to be eligible to live in the US. You’ll need evidence of a visa or immigration documents to prove it.
A US address
You need to prove to your bank that you’re actively working and living in America. A US postbox address isn’t going to cut it—you need a physical address.
They can enforce this by requesting actual evidence of your address, such as a utility bill or lease agreement.
Can I open a US bank account online?
In short, yes, you can open a US bank account online—but only if you have a US address.
If you don’t have this proof of address it can become quite difficult to open a US bank account from inside the UK.
Some banks allow what’s known as an International Account
This type of account is a relatively rare phenomenon that’s being offered by some US banks to foreigners. It allows you to open a US bank account from the UK and overseas without having to be physically in the country.
But while this may be a glimmer of hope, the issue with these is that they typically have exorbitantly high fees, and often require a big initial deposit and minimum account threshold. And we mean really big, often in the realm of US$150,000.
So in many cases, it’s often not even a feasible option to consider.
While it can be a disheartening process, with lots of confusing documentation and hoops to jump through, there is an alternative that allows you to open a US bank account online, from Australia, as a non-resident.
An Airwallex USD Global Account is your ticket to banking in the US
We make it easy for you to reach the US market with a USD Dollar Global Account. There’s no need to visit a bank branch in the US, no need to supply a US address, and you can use your existing British IDs. You’re able to open your USD account online, without even leaving your home.
When you open a USD Foreign Currency Account you get issued a US account number, ACH routing number and Fedwire routing number. These details allow you to receive, hold and send USD without the need to exchange funds or fork out for exchange fees.
In fact, there are no fees at all. No sign-up fees, no monthly account fees, and absolutely no fees just to speak to a real-life human.
You can keep all your financials and bookkeeping on one spot, too, no matter the currency, as you can link it directly to your Xero account with transaction information logged automatically.
Ready to see where an Airwallex Business Account can take you?
Click Get Started below to open your account online and streamline your expansion into the US.
Joe Romeo is responsible for scaling our Airwallex's product adoption in the UK and the world. An all-around growth enthusiast, Joe's speciality lies in SEO, organic acquisition and making lasagna.
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