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How to Open a Bank Account in the U.S. as a Recent Arrival

The benefits of a U.S. bank account are clear to many non-residents, international businesspeople, and international businesses. However, opening a bank account in the U.S. could be a frustrating experience for non-US individuals if they don’t know the exact requirements and procedures.

Can You Open an Account if You Are Not a Resident of the U.S.?

The United States is probably one of the easiest places in the world to open a bank account. It’s one of the few countries where non-residents can open a bank account with minimal hassle. Opening a U.S. bank account shouldn’t be difficult for you if you have the right preparation and documentation.

Many, but not all, United States banks require applicants to apply in person. However, there are some banks that allow you to apply online and avoid this hassle. It is an attractive alternative for non-residents to avoid the hassle of in-person applications. However, an online application can come with a higher chance of disapproval.

Documents Required to Open an Account

Every bank has a different set of requirements. The requirement can vary drastically depending on which state you plan on moving to/residing. Following are some of the most common and usual requirements by most U.S. banks:

  • Your passport
  • A debit/credit card from your country
  • Proof of address
  • Social security number
  • Initial deposit

Following are some other supporting documents you may need:

  • Immigration documents
  • Certification of employment from your U.S. employer
  • Secondary identification card e.g. student ID, work visa, driver’s license, etc.
  • Credit history report
  • Bank statement from your local bank
  • Enrollment form (if you are a student)

It is recommended that you contact the bank via phone call to learn about the documents required before heading to the bank.

How Much Money Do You Need to Open an Account?

When you open a bank account, you will need to make an initial deposit. The amount of minimum initial deposit varies depending on the bank as well as the account type. Fortunately, minimum deposits in the United States are usually fairly low. The minimum initial deposit amount ranges from around $100 to $1,500. There are some savings account that don’t even require a minimum deposit. It is recommended that you reach out to the bank you intend to visit before you go to apply. You can usually fund your initial deposit via money order, debit/credit card, check, or an electronic transfer.

The Takeaway

Opening a bank account in the U.S. as a recent arrival is a pretty quick and easy process. This is particularly true when you come prepared with all the required paperwork and information. Before you choose a United States bank account, it is recommended that you read the small print and learn about all the benefits, features, and fees. Every bank offers a variety of different account options, from basic accounts to premium ones. In addition to proof of address, social security number, forms of ID, etc. you should check with the bank beforehand to learn about any additional requirements.