Loading the player...
A:

A non-U.S. citizen can open a checking or savings account in the United States, but financial institutions reserve the right to deny his or her application to do so.

Business Contract with Non-U.S. Citizen

Private businesses in the U.S. have the right to contract with foreign individuals or groups; this right is explicitly stated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, have made it much more difficult for foreign persons to open accounts or engage in monetary transactions in the U.S. or through American financial institutions.

Due to regulations set forth in the USA Patriot Act, banks and credit unions must now follow strict guidelines to verify an individual's identity when establishing a new savings account. A foreign individual must have a U.S.-based local address to tie to the account.

It is easier to guarantee acceptance with a U.S.-based multinational bank with foreign branches. This provides international applicants with the opportunity to build up a business relationship with the bank before applying to the bank stateside.

Documentation and Identification

Any would-be account-holder must provide a current photo identification card, such as a passport or a state-issued driver's license; in most instances, photocopies are not accepted. In addition to a photo ID, individuals opening a savings account are required to provide their Social Security number, birth date, current and past addresses, and employment information. For non-U.S. citizens, an American Social Security number is not necessary for checking or savings accounts, though the absence of one may require the applicant to jump through extra hoops.

Foreign applicants do need two forms of personal ID; one of these must be a passport, which the bank will make a copy of for its records. Acceptable forms of secondary identification include a driver's license, a debit card, a work visa or a student ID. Depending on the work or study status of the applying party, the bank may require a copy of other documentation as well.

If the foreign applicant is opening an account with a wired transfer, he needs proof of funds. This also applies to large cash deposits. If the applicant has a job or residence, he needs documentation to verify each of those as well.

The majority of banks have a brief application that gathers all identifying information. After submitting an application for a savings account, applicants may be asked by the institution to review the terms and conditions of the account, which may list privacy policies, fees assessed on the account and minimum funding levels.

The applicant is likely to be required to appear in-person at the branch. Heightened security after 2001 led to the near-elimination of online applications for foreign accounts, due to fear of terrorism-related money laundering.

Minimum Funding

Banks and credit unions differ in how much they require an individual to deposit to establish a savings account, but minimum funding ranges from $5 up to $50 for basic accounts. Savings account deposits can be made in cash or check, either in person at a branch location or via the mail. Once the minimum is fulfilled, a savings account is considered open and in good standing.

RELATED FAQS
  1. How can I change the information on my Social Security card?

    Discover the process of filing for a name change on your social security card, the documentation required for the request ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the differences between preference shares and bonds?

    Learn what information banks keep on file for their customers, and understand how this information can be used to deny an ... Read Answer >>
  3. How do I apply for Social Security retirement benefits?

    Understand the process of applying for Social Security benefits, the kinds of information and documentation you need, and ... Read Answer >>
  4. What should you bring to a bank to open a checking account?

    Learn which documents you need to bring to the bank to open a new checking account. Having the right documents saves time ... Read Answer >>
  5. What economic factors affect savings account rates?

    Find out how supply, demand and central bank policy all affect savings account rates offered by banks for extra deposits ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Should You Open A Foreign Savings Account?

    Would opening a savings account in a foreign bank make sense for you? The pros and cons, how to establish one – and alternatives to consider.
  2. Personal Finance

    Handling High-Yield Savings Accounts

    Is this the savings route for you? Read on to find out what these accounts have to offer.
  3. Personal Finance

    Find the Best Savings Account Rates

    You know how to spot the highest interest rate, but how do you really get the best deal on savings accounts?
  4. Personal Finance

    4 Savings Accounts for Investors

    Curious about the best saving accounts and which ones suit investors?
  5. Personal Finance

    The 5 Best Alternatives to Bank Saving Accounts

    Find out about some of the most profitable available alternatives to depositing money in a traditional bank passbook savings account.
  6. Insights

    Tax Implications of Opening a Foreign Bank Account

    Learn about the tax implications of opening a foreign bank account, including accounts that generate earned or unearned income from overseas activity.
  7. Personal Finance

    Which Banks Pay the Highest Interest Rates on Savings Accounts?

    Online banks offer the best savings account interest rates. Not all banks offer the same features, so it pays to read the fine print.
  8. Small Business

    Best Checking Accounts For Small Businesses

    What you need to know to choose the best checking account for your small business – and where to look.
  9. Investing

    Money Market Accounts with the Highest Interest Rates

    Money market savings accounts can offer higher interest rates than regular or even high-yield bank savings accounts – and perks like these.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Savings Account

    A deposit account held at a bank or other financial institution ...
  2. Checking Account

    A checking account is a deposit account at a financial institution ...
  3. Bank Deposits

    Money placed into a banking institution for safekeeping. Bank ...
  4. Foreign Branch Bank

    A type of foreign bank that is obligated to follow the regulations ...
  5. Money Market Account

    An interest-bearing account that typically pays a higher interest ...
  6. Chart Of Accounts

    A listing of each account a company owns, along with the account ...
Trading Center