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How to open a US bank account

30 Mar 2021 - Category: Blog /
Open a US bank account

People move to the US for different reasons. If you’re considering relocating, whether it’s to Florida’s Sunshine State or New York’s Empire State, you might be wondering how you go about opening a bank account. There are some real benefits of having a US bank account, so it’s definitely worth considering. And, luckily, it’s also straight-forward for a non-resident to open an account. In fact, the banks in the US don’t really make it any harder for non-residents than its own citizens.

On top of that, the US is well-trusted internationally, so having a US bank account can help if you’re going to be investing, saving, or sending money home through international money transfers.

So, let’s take a closer look at the following:

Can I open a US bank account as a non-resident?

Yes, you can.

Most banks will allow you to open a bank account as a non-resident, but if you want to open a bank account before you move to the US, your options are a little more limited.

Can I open a US bank account from abroad?

As a non-resident, you have two options if you want to open a bank account from abroad:

  1. Visit the local branch of an international bank in your home country
  2. Open a Borderless or Passbook account to manage your money until you move

Opening an account by visiting the local branch of an international bank in your home country

Some international banks, like HSBC, provide a service that lets you open an account before you move. In order to do this, you will need to:

  1. Arrange a call back
  2. Complete your overseas account application with a representative of the HSBC International Banking Centre (IBC)
  3. Verify documents (proof of ID and proof of address) at a branch that is local to you.

It should then only take a few days for your international account to be set up.

Opening a Passbook account

If you’d rather go down the online route, you won’t be able to open up an account with an American bank. However, there is an option that allows you to begin spending internationally. This would buy you time while you settle in and get the necessary proof of address to open an account with an American bank.

The new Passbook app is designed specifically for immigrants living and working in the US. It does not require an SSN and allows you to spend internationally without paying foreign transaction fees.

How do I open a bank account in the US?

The best way to open a US bank account is to visit the bank in person, so once you move, you have plenty of options.

Can I open a US bank account online?

Yes. Some, but not all, banks provide a service that enables you to apply for a bank account online. For example, you can apply online for a checking account with the Bank of America if you’re 18 years or older and a legal US resident.

What do I need to open a US bank account?

In general, to open a bank account in the US you will need to visit the bank of your choice and provide the following:

  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • A valid, government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license, passport or state or military ID)
  • A minimum opening deposit (which will vary from bank to bank) to activate your account. This can usually be paid using a credit, debit, or prepaid card, or can be transferred from another account

What’s an SSN and how do I get one?

An SSN is a unique series of digits that are assigned to US citizens in order to track their income. It also helps to determine benefits.

An alternative to an SSN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), which is a number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that is used to process tax. ITINs are issued to people who need a taxpayer ID number but aren’t assigned an SSN.

This could be right for you. If so, you can apply for an ITIN, in person or by post, via the IRS. And that’s everything you need to know about setting up a US bank account, from abroad or in the US.

We know that when many people move abroad, they like to help out friends and family by sending money back home.

At Small World we offer our customers a whole range of ways to send money internationally. If you’re in the US you can send money home as long as you have a bank account; it doesn’t need to be a US account.

And, depending on the country you are sending money to, you can choose from a range of options with us. These include:

  • bank deposit (where you send direct to a bank account)
  • cash pick-up (send actual cash to a convenient location)
  • mobile wallet (where you send to a digital app).

Registering with Small World is easy, you can start sending today.

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