How to Open a U.S. Bank Account

Just back from a two-week swing through Belfast, Antrim (at a wonderful InvestNI program) Londonderry/Derry, Galway, and Dublin, meeting with companies looking to export to the U.S. One question that came up time and again: how can an Irish or NI company open a U.S. bank account?

Opening U.S. bank accounts has become harder because of the ‘know-your-customer’ requirements on U.S. banks by virtue of U.S. anti-money laundering regulations. In general (and keep in mind that some banks may have other specific requirements), in order to open a U.S. bank account, a bank will want to see (i) a certified copy of your U.S. affiliate’s certificate of incorporation/formation; (ii) your entity’s taxpayer ID number from the IRS; and (iii) a signed copy of your U.S. affiliate’s initial consent in lieu of a board meeting, which consent should include banking authorization language (see the sample consent here). The pain-in-the-neck part is this: you’ll need someone to actually go to the U.S. bank (with his/her passport and another form of ID) to open the account. The banks want to be sure that the account holders are who they say they are. Often, Irish/NI parent companies will open the account when one of their executives travels to the U.S. on other business.