Can a US Citizen Living Abroad Open a Bank Account?

Over the last twelve months, an increasing number of US expats have asked us “can a US citizen living abroad open a bank account in the US?”. Well, here’s the answer…

If you’re a US citizen living abroad you can open a bank account in the US. To do so, you must apply to banks that accept US citizens abroad, maintain the  US-specific ties that the bank requires, and pass the bank’s standard identity verification and compliance procedures.

Unfortunately, most US banks do not fall into this category. In fact, while other articles claim that you can simply apply to any US bank with an online application and get accepted, this is false. US banks are reasonably tech-savvy, have safeguards in place for compliance, and aren’t easily fooled.

Instead, you need to focus on applying to the right US banks (or through experienced bankers), that allow US citizens to open accounts remotely without physically going into the branch for identity verification.

In today’s article, we’re going to help you get started, share some of the challenges (and solutions) that you’ll likely face, and give you insights into the application process.

But before we begin, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, download your free copy of our Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It helps non-residents get started opening accounts around the world, including in the United States.


Now, some readers might be wondering why a US citizen living abroad would ever struggle to open bank accounts in the first place. They are US citizens with SSNs and still pay US taxes! But, bank regulations are changing and getting stricter. And many US banks have adopted stricter internal policies and will flat-out refuse anyone applying from a) outside the US, b) who is not a US resident, or c) who doesn’t meet certain criteria.

These restrictions range from residency status, ties to the US, which state you have an address in, whether or not you intend to make international transfers, and even your physical location at the time of application–more on this below.

Restrictions That Dictate Whether or Not a US Citizen Living Abroad Can Open a Bank Account

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As discussed in past articles, opening bank accounts is not as straightforward as most people think. In fact, account opening is a nuanced procedure where you’re put under the microscope. And, each bank has different requirements and procedures.

Typically,  you’ll get “scored” against the bank’s internal risk matrix, which is either auto-generated or managed by the bank’s compliance department. This then determines whether or not you (or your business) are a suitable client for the bank. And, if so, what type of additional documentation and identity verification procedures you’ll need to jump through.

When it comes to whether a US citizen living abroad can open a bank account in the US, this risk matrix often includes a few unique parameters, such as:

  • Are you located in a foreign country at the time of application?
  • Are you located in a different state from the bank at the time of application?
  • Do you have the right address to apply for an account?
  • Do you have the right supporting documents to open an account?
  • And much more…

These items might seem trivial, but if you don’t navigate them correctly, your application will be denied or the bank will require you to physically come into a branch to apply.

And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Many US citizens living abroad that apply for bank accounts end up being asked to visit the branch in person. This is because the bank needs to verify your identity and their system couldn’t properly cross-reference your particulars.  While that might not seem like a big deal, this can be massively inconvenient if you’re not physically located in the US at the time of application. And, it’s even more annoying if you can’t travel because of a global pandemic, an extenuating circumstance, or the cost to physically fly to the US is too high.

Fortunately, as we’ll share below, as long as you have the right information, a bit of direction, and know which banks to apply to, you can overcome all of these challenges and more. Plus, even if the bank you want to open an account with doesn’t allow for online account opening, you can sometimes overcome this by simply applying through the right banker.

But before opening in the US, you should probably consider all of the available options…

Where Else Can a US Citizen Living Abroad Open a Bank Account?

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If you’re looking to open bank accounts in the US from abroad, you might also be interested in banking in other countries as well.

Fortunately, US citizens living abroad are not restricted to banking in the United States. In fact, US citizens can open accounts in most countries, just like anyone else.

But, there are some strings attached…

Of course, following the roll-out of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in 2013, many foreign banks stopped accepting US citizens as clients entirely. This was due to the added costs, complexities, administrative burdens associated with US reporting requirements for US citizens.

In other words, onboarding and servicing a US customer is expensive for foreign banks. This is because of all the extra special reporting that the US government requires under FATCA. So, instead of implementing FATCA, many banks simply opted to not accept US citizens as clients anymore.

But a lot has changed over the last several years since FATCA was implemented. Many foreign banks invested heavily in their internal compliance systems to comply with increasingly strict AML, KYC, CTF, and CRS regulations. As a result, many banks became FATCA-compliant. And, it’s now profitable to accept US clients again.

So, if you’re a US citizen living abroad looking to open a bank account in a foreign country, you’re in luck. Whether you’re interested in private banking, retail banking, or business banking, there are plenty of options available. Granted, you’ll still have a more difficult time finding a bank and opening an account than the average non-US citizen or resident.

How to Open a US Bank Account When Living Abroad

Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in the US?

As mentioned, the question of “can a US citizen living abroad open a bank account?” has been coming up frequently over the past year. So, we had an idea…

Our team set out to not only answer this question but also to create the most comprehensive report that exists on the topic.

This report includes detailed instructions, US bank recommendations, strategies for specific client groups, and gives you specific suggestions on how to overcome just about every possible challenge that could trip you up along the way.

This report explains how to open accounts with some of the top brick and mortar banks in the US. But, it also covers account opening at credit unions and discusses which US fintech options are worth exploring for US citizens living abroad. In all, we cover more than 25 different banking options.

To access this report, all you need to do is join GlobalBanks Insider. You will then receive immediate access to all of our reports, including US Remote Bank Account Opening for US Citizens. More on this below.

How a US Citizen Living Abroad Can Open a Bank Account Now…

If you need help sorting out your banking options, want to know which banks will open a bank account for you, or just aren’t sure where to turn–we can help.

When you join GlobalBanks, you’ll get instant access to our entire archive of Banking Intelligence Reports. These include proven strategies for opening accounts. We also share contact information for specific banks and bankers. And to make sure you don’t waste time, we’ll also provide details on each bank’s preferences, sensitivities, and more.

You’ll also get access to the GlobalBanks Database which includes easy-to-digest bank profiles, analyst insights, account opening contacts, and unique opportunities for the top banks in 50+ countries.

Plus, you’ll get real-time analyst support through chat and email, and get answers to your most pressing banking questions.

GlobalBanks Insider is the most comprehensive international banking resource you’ll find anywhere. Click through below to learn more…

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