How to open a bank account will ultimately depend on a few key factors related to you and the type of account you’re looking to open.
These factors include where you want to open, your residency status, how much you’re planning on depositing, and the method of opening you prefer.
In this article, we’re breaking down all of these factors for you. This will include insights for local residents and foreign non-residents. Plus, we’ll also discuss opening local and non-resident business accounts.
So, whether you’re looking for a personal, business, private, or even an offshore bank account, keep reading to learn how you can start opening today.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- How to Open a Bank Account
- Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in the US?
- When Should I Open Multiple Bank Accounts?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Ready to Explore Your Options?
How to Open a Bank Account
To open a bank account you first need to determine your requirements and decide which type of account you need. You can then narrow down the specific banks that meet your requirements, and begin the application process. Applying for an account involves completing standard onboarding forms, providing valid identification, and supporting documentation.
Not surprisingly, the specific requirements that you will be asked to provide will vary depending on the type of account you decide to open and where you choose to apply. In fact, each bank has their own onboarding policies set by its internal compliance teams. So, two banks sitting next to one another in the same location may have slightly different requirements.
One mistake that many first-time account openers make is not comparing fees. Depending on where you decide to apply (and the type of account you apply for), bank fees can be very high. So, before selecting the bank you want to apply to, it’s best to compare each bank’s fees side by side. In doing so, you’ll be better informed than the vast majority of customers at most banks.
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If you’d like to get a head start on account opening as a non-resident then download our FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide right now!
Requirements for Opening an Account in the US?
Requirements for opening an account in the US will vary by bank, customer, and account type. In most cases, applicants need to provide a completed application, valid government-issued identification, proof of address, proof of income, tax identification number, and a qualifying deposit.
That said, if you are looking to open a business bank account, there will be additional requirements you need to meet. Likewise, if you are opening an account as a foreigner, non-resident, or without a US SSN or ITIN, the requirements that apply to you will vary slightly.
Here’s a closer look at the requirements for opening a business and personal checking account.
Requirements for Opening Business Bank Accounts
The requirements for opening business bank accounts typically include a completed application form, government-issued identification of the shareholders and directors, proof of address for the shareholders and directors, corporate documents from the jurisdiction of registration, and proof of address for the business.
However, it’s important to note that most banks will also ask for proof of business activities, which may include contracts, invoices, etc. Depending on the jurisdiction where you are opening, you may also be asked for letters of recommendation or even a visit to your place of business.
Not surprisingly, most banks will want to see your business’ website. Importantly, a business website is not as simple as having a landing page with your logo. Instead, there is very specific information that you need to have on your website in order to satisfy both banks and payment processors. We provide a complete checklist for business owners on how to create a website that meets bank requirements in GlobalBanks IQ.
Requirements for Opening a Personal Checking Account
The requirements for opening a personal checking account typically include a completed application form, government-issued identification, proof of address, proof of income, tax identification number, and a qualifying deposit.
Of course, different banks have different requirements. In certain instances, you may be able to open an account with an initial deposit of only $100 while other banks may require a deposit of up to $25,000. When you start to look at international banking options, these deposit requirements can increase even further.
Residents vs Non-Residents
If you’re a local looking to open a bank account in your hometown, this section won’t apply to you. But if you’re a foreign non-resident looking to open an account abroad, you may have already encountered this problem. Many banks do not accept applications from non-residents. Those that do, likely require you to show up in person.
Of course, there are many banks that accept foreign non-residents in most countries (including major hubs like the United States, Europe, Singapore, etc), which we share with the members of GlobalBanks IQ. But they can be hard to identify and difficult to open unless you have the right information.
With this in mind, if you are a foreign non-resident, make sure you do your homework and carefully select banks that actually want you as a customer. Otherwise, you may end up wasting significant amounts of time applying to banks that will only deny you.
When Should I Open Multiple Bank Accounts?
You should open multiple bank accounts when an account closure or freeze could negatively impact your ability to meet financial obligations. This is true for both personal and business banking and is the most basic form of risk management.
Benefits of Opening More Than One Account
By opening multiple accounts, you’re ensuring that you can continue to meet your most basic financial obligations like continuing to pay rent, purchase food, and even pay your employees.
That said, if you choose not to open multiple bank accounts in the scenario outlined above, you should most certainly open multiple accounts after your deposits exceed any applicable deposit insurance thresholds. In doing so, you’re ensuring that your money is protected by the central government in the country where you have chosen to bank.
Of course, we do not suggest relying on deposit insurance. While it provides a theoretical backstop, you should instead focus on banking with sound banks that do not engage in high-risk investing or lending and maintain conservative solvency and liquidity.
You could also consider taking an additional step and looking at international diversification by opening accounts in some of the best banking jurisdictions in the world. This includes opening both personal, business, and private bank accounts in jurisdictions like Singapore, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and elsewhere.
If you’re interested in exploring diversifying your banking abroad, we share the step-by-step process to open accounts with banks in these countries (and more) in the GlobalBanks IQ international bank database.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are three of the most common questions that we receive from people asking how to open a bank account. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.
What Banks Allow You to Open an Account Online?
Most banks allow you to open an account online through their website or via a mobile application. However, certain client profiles may still need to visit the bank in person. Likewise, even low-risk profiles can still trigger an in-person account opening requirement by applying from outside of their home country or by not having the correct form of identification or tax id.
How Much Money Do You Need to Open an Account?
How much money you need to open an account will ultimately depend on the specific bank and account type you are looking to open. That said, most individuals can find retail accounts with starting deposits between $0 and $100 or business accounts with starting deposits between $500 and $1,500. If you are looking to open accounts as a non-resident or for a non-resident business, you should usually expect the required deposit to increase by 10 to 50 times the local requirement.
How Long Does it Take to Open a Bank Account?
How long it takes to open a bank account will depend on where you are applying, the type of account you are applying for, and your client profile. That said, if you are applying as a resident you can typically open an account in five to ten business days. As a non-resident individual or business, you can typically expect to open an account in ten to fifteen business days as it can take banks longer to verify your international documents or confirm foreign language translations.
Ready to Explore Your Options?
If you would like assistance navigating your banking options at home or abroad, we can help.
You can access GlobalBanks IQ, our international banking intelligence platform, in just a few clicks. Unlock our bank database, individual bank profiles, account opening strategies and reports, banker scripts, and more.
But, if you want a 100% personalized account opening service that taps into our team’s expertise and provides direct banker introductions, you can get started with GlobalBanks Insider.
Of course, if you have any questions, please contact us directly.