A U.S. business bank account allows you to receive money from your customers and pay for any services or goods that you purchase in the United States. Companies or individuals located outside the U.S. that want to do business in the U.S. may need to set up a U.S. business bank account, though it's significantly easier to do so if you've set up your business in the U.S.

Advantages of Having a U.S. Business Bank Account

With your U.S. bank account, you can pay U.S. suppliers via wire transfer or check. Your U.S.-based clients and customers can also pay you via wire transfer, direct deposit, or check. You can move funds from your U.S. account to your local bank account in your home country via an international wire transfer.

Roadblocks to Getting a U.S. Bank Account

It's important to note that the U.S. has passed laws that place restrictions on nonresidents and non-U.S. businesses opening U.S bank accounts. These laws were passed to block criminal activity and international money laundering.

The Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, makes it difficult for certain non-U.S. residents to open bank accounts in the U.S.

The Patriot Act calls for any person opening a bank account to pass the required anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism checks. The Patriot Act makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to open a U.S. bank account for people from Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, North Korea, Sudan, Western Balkans, and Zimbabwe. It is also near impossible for people whose names are on the Office of Foreign Assets Control's list of blocked companies or people.

Information Needed to Open a U.S. Business Bank Account

Non-U.S. business entities trying to open a bank account in the U.S. must provide the required information and documents:

  • The U.S. entity's Articles of Incorporation or the sole proprietorship or general partnership's name.
  • The business's EIN.
  • The lease agreement for your business's physical office.
  • Your business's physical address in your home country.
  • Color copies of the driver's licenses and passports of each person on the account.
  • A reference letter from your home country's bank manager that verifies:
    • How long you've been a bank customer.
    • Your home and business addresses.
    • Your phone number(s) — home, business, and cell phone.
    • Your employment information and occupation.

Some elements that are crucial to building a credible business presence in the U.S. are:

  • A U.S. corporation or LLC, which carries tax benefits and ensures compliance.
  • A physical U.S. address, which builds banking credibility and trust from consumers.
  • A U.S. bank account, which allows you to process payments and carries merchant fee advantages.

Best U.S. Checking Account Options for Small Businesses

If you're running a small business, you shouldn't have to pay a fee for a small business checking account. Larger bank chains are more likely to offer free business checking, though you should still be mindful of fees charged for overdraft and excess deposits or transactions.

As of 2018, here are some of the best U.S. small business checking accounts on the market:

  1. Chase Bank: Perhaps the best overall choice for a small business checking account. Chase Bank is one of the most popular for small businesses, with over 16,000 ATMs and over 5,100 branches across the U.S. Chase Total Checking is one of the best complete business checking account options in the U.S.
  2. Capital One: For unlimited transactions, Capital One offers one of the best business checking account options, offering a solution which functions entirely online. Because it is online-focused, Capital One has the best fee structure on the market. It has a massive network of 39,000 ATMs across the U.S. However, it only has about 700 brick-and-mortar locations. This could pose problems if your business makes routine cash deposits.
  3. Bank of America: If you need a checking account to make cash deposits, Bank of America is the best option for your small business. Bank of America has more than 5,000 locations and over 16,000 ATMs. One unique advantage of using Bank of America is that you can make cash deposits at any of their ATMs.
  4. U.S. Bank: U.S. Bank has a free checking account for businesses that have balances under $1,500. Its silver business package is designed for small businesses that don't have very many monthly transactions or cash deposits. It has a large network of over 3,200 locations and over 5,000 ATMs, making it a great option for small businesses that want free checking and access to a physical branch.

If you need help with a U.S. business bank account, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.