Having a bank account in the United States is highly recommended if you’re an international real estate investor with property in the US. It is considered a solid foundation for any investor dealing with a direct investment in the United States. Despite this, since the 2000s opening a bank account in the United States for non-residents has been becoming more and more difficult.
This is primarily due to more strict regulations which have been added throughout the years. It includes the Patriot Act and more Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Client (AML & KYC) requirements.
Bank Account Requirements For Non-US Residents
Non US residents, foreigners, and international investors can open a bank account in the United States. They should consider targeting large US banks, however. Some smaller banks and credit unions may require that their clients be US citizens, have a social security, or ITIN number. Additionally, many banks will not permit a non-US citizen to open a bank account online. Instead, most banks require a physical visit to a local bank branch if the applicant does not have a social security number or ITIN.
An ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. It is issued by the IRS or tax service. For those who do not have a social security number, sometimes an ITIN can suffice. It is also proof that an individual is paying tax in the United States. To apply for an ITIN, you’ll need to fill out a Form W-7 with the IRS.
Banks & Proof of Identification
Most banks have the following requirements for a primary ID:
- Foreign passport with or without a visa.
- U.S. non-immigrant visa and border crossing card.
- Mexican, Guatemalan, Dominican or Colombian consular ID.
- Canadian citizenship certificate card.
For a secondary ID, they may ask for one of the following:
- Foreign driver’s license (or U.S. driver’s license).
- U.S.-issued work ID card or badge.
- Debit or major credit card bearing a Visa or Mastercard logo.
- Retail credit card from a nationally known company.
- Major retail credit card from a nationally well-known company.
- U.S. State Department ID.
- Mexican voter registration card.
If an international investor is setting up a corporate bank account for an LLC, requirements may vary from bank to bank. Some international property investors set up an LLC to hold their property investments. Generally the process is similar to that of opening a personal account with a few differences. Here is what is usually required for a corporate account:
- Government-issued ID
- Proof of US address
- Proof of business address
- Articles of incorporation
- Federal Employer Identification Number
When opening a bank account, a deposit is usually required. The minimum deposit amount may vary from bank to bank, but it can range between $25 to $1000 on average.
Benefits of a US Bank Account
Having a bank account in the United States can make things a lot easier for international property investors. It can lower bank fees dramatically, as banks tend to charge more for international transactions. Additionally, non-bank check cashing services in the United States tend to charge high fees. It will also allow the investor to establish a credit history in the US, and boost their likelihood of getting a loan approved with US rates. It will also permit the account holder to receive a credit or debit card.
Alternatively, an international property investor can rely on a bank account in their country of residence. An offshore bank account may also be an option, although fees and deposit requirements can be rather high.
A US bank account is usually the most beneficial for international property investors. That being said, it is best to shop around for the best fees and lowest requirements.