One of the first steps that foreign companies must take when launching their business in the US market is to open a bank account. This can be complicated when the company does not have employees residing in the country or does not have a permanent physical address, something that happens frequently at the beginning of an internationalization project and even in later phases. Many foreign-owned US companies are permanently managed by non-resident staff, with occasional support from a local representative.
The availability of a US bank account is of great importance for multiple reasons:
- It will make it easier to get local services and be paid for sales. For example, some online markets require the availability of a bank account in the US.
- It is an essential element when trying to provide an image of closeness to customers.
- The account opening will start the process of creating the entity’s credit history, which will facilitate in the future all kinds of financial and business procedures.
- You will avoid commissions and losses in currency exchanges by minimizing the number of international transfers, which can be made on specific occasions using more efficient mechanisms, such as wholesale brokers that give much more competitive exchange rates.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 caused some important reforms in the system, including the law known as the ‘Patriot Act’ which substantially restricts the financial operations of foreign individuals and organizations.
An unavoidable prerequisite to be able to open a company bank account in the US is the creation of a legal entity in this country. It is not possible to open an account in the name of a foreign company. Our free guide gives a detailed description of the necessary steps, available options and costs associated with starting a business in the US.
After having established said entity, you must obtain your federal tax identification number (EIN). The documents associated with these procedures (e.g. ‘Articles of Incorporation’, EIN confirmation letter, etc.) must be provided to the bank when requesting the new bank account.
Another common requirement is the existence of an authorized representative who is a US resident. He or she does not need to be a US national or a ‘Green Card’ holder, but must have an authorization to reside in the country.
Likewise, it will be necessary to have a physical address associated with the company in the US, usually in the same state as the selected bank branch. It can be the address of the authorized representative. Sometimes the address of the registered agent hired when the company was incorporated can also be used, provided that they agree to forward the bank’s letters and that the financial institution has no problem with this approach.
It may be helpful to use the services of US subsidiaries of international banks with which the company or entrepreneur has a strong business relationship. In the event that the bank does not have branches in the target area of operations, it will also be useful to open an operating account with a large American bank (such as JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank or Wells Fargo), for simplicity. It is advisable to check the costs of maintenance and certain transactions that will be used frequently to ensure that a suitable option is chosen.
Most banks require some of the paperwork to be carried out in person, which can be done by the authorized representative who, as we have indicated, must legally reside in the US. A small initial deposit of about $ 100, which can vary depending on the bank, is usually necessary to formalize the opening.
Each bank can define additional conditions and request other documents. For example, some entities require a ‘Certificate of Good Standing’ issued by the state in which the US company was incorporated that demonstrates that it is operating in accordance with applicable regulations. Sometimes the company is also required to provide documents signed by its administrators indicating which persons are authorized to carry out banking operations (‘Banking Resolution’).
Recently, some banks have started offering online business accounts, such as Azlo (from the BBVA group), Novo, Mercury or NBKC, which can partially simplify the process of remote account opening and management, although most of the above requirements will still apply.
How can Markentry USA help?
From Markentry USA, we can assist with all the needs associated with any of the phases of the life cycle of the creation of a business in the USA, including the constitution of a US company and the opening of a bank account. We can also provide the necessary local support for their management and participate in the recruitment of employees for the US subsidiary. Contact us to study your needs and study how we can help you from the USA.