Non-citizen residents in the United States have many reasons to want to open a bank account. Indeed, it can make it easier to manage money when you have a bank account, especially if your visit to the United States will be of a lengthy duration. Realize, though, that non-citizen residents are required to go into the bank in person; you can’t open an online account if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Before you go down to the bank, it’s a good idea to know what you will need, in order to avoid delays and frustrations. Call the bank to make sure you understand the requirements, since different banks have varying requirements for opening an account. You should also contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control. If your home country is on a list of hostile targets, you won’t be able to open a U.S. bank account.

If your country of residence is cleared, you can proceed. You will likely need at least two forms of picture identification. Often, a passport, driver’s license, visa, or other document is acceptable. Call the bank to find out what is required. You might need to bring proof of your current address as well, including a bill in your name. Calling ahead can ensure that you have what that particular bank requires. Also, be ready to deposit the minimum amount of funds to open the account.

There are always forms to fill out, and you will need to fill them in completely, and then sign them. It can take up to two to five business days for the bank to approve your application and open your account.

What If I’m Not Currently in the United States?

Of course, the above only works if you are physically in the United States at the time. If you are not living in the United States, your approach will have to be different. Many non-citizens not currently residing in the United States turn to major international banks. These international banks, such as Bank of America, Chase, and others, have branches around the world. You should be able to open a U.S. dollar account at any of these American banks with branches in various countries.

Additionally, a major bank in your country of residence might offer a U.S. dollar account that can serve your purposes. Many major Canadian, U.K., and European banks offer U.S dollar accounts that make it relatively easy to do your banking and perform business transactions in U.S. dollars. Opening such an account is likely to be easier and faster than trying to jump through all the hoops required since 9/11 to open a bank account in the United States.

Bottom Line

If you want a U.S. bank account, you need to contact your bank of choice to find out exactly what you need to bring in. You should also realize that it might not be possible to open an account, as a non-U.S. citizen, without going to the bank in person. If you can’t make it to the bank in person or you do not qualify for a U.S. bank account, then look at opening a U.S. dollar account with your current bank.