Do you want to have a bank account in the U.S.A?
Do you know if you are earning money in US dollars, having a U.S. bank account may help you save huge money.
Furthermore, if you incorporate a company in the U.S. (anybody in the world can do this without physically being in the U.S.), you will remove the biggest headaches of restrictions imposed by many online services that exist in developing countries.
Feb 2020 update: If your purpose is just to get a Stripe account, they recently started accepting Indian businesses. See here
You might not know any of this, so let me first give you a little background of what I’m talking about. After that, what you are about to learn might change the way you do business online.
Having a registered company helps you do more global business. If you are someone who lives in a developing country, you are probably aware of certain restrictions and limited opportunities when doing business online.
If your company is registered in a developed country (like the U.S., Singapore, or Japan), you will be able to engage in business activities with anyone around the world, and a lot of the restrictions that exist in developing countries will be lifted.
Recently, I incorporated a company in the United States of America. In this tutorial, I will show you one of the ways that you can do this for yourself. (There are many ways to incorporate in the U.S., and each way comes with its pros and cons.)
Last year, I launched the ShoutMeLoud store . One of the biggest challenges was whether or not I should use an unrestricted PayPal account or a traditional payment gateway like Stripe. I wanted to have both options available so that payment could easily be made by anyone in the world.
But the main problem was that PayPal has a limited function in many countries (including India), and payment gateways like Stripe are not yet available in many countries (including India).
The only way I could get around this problem was by having a bank account in one of the countries where PayPal is not limited & gateways like Stripe are available.
So I decided to incorporate a company in the United States.
It’s actually very easy for anyone around the world to open a company in the U.S.A. You don’t need to physically visit the U.S. to do this; there are many online services that will help you get this done remotely.
However, the biggest limitation of this is that you won’t be able to open a bank account in the U.S. remotely. In order to open a bank account, you have to physically visit the country. And, without a bank account in U.S., opening just a company won’t serve the higher purpose.
Meet Stripe Atlas
A few months back, I got to know about a service started by the popular payment processor company Stripe. The service is named as Atlas by Stripe.
This service lets anyone in the world open a company in the U.S. while also helping businesses open a U.S. bank account without visiting the country. It’s a double win for any startup or individual who wishes to expand their business & needs to become a truly global company.
However, before you apply for Stripe Atlas, you should be clear of the benefits you are getting by doing so.
Earlier opening a maintaining the bank account used to be free. However, now they have added a charge/month if you are not maintaining minimum balance. Here is new rule:
Your business bank account with SVB will cost $25 per month. This fee is waived if you maintain a minimum average balance of $25,000 per month. SVB will share details about your account’s complete fee schedule and functionality as you complete the documents to open your bank account.
Before we get started, you should also read the following guides to help you learn the pros & cons of using Atlas by Stripe:
- 5 Reasons Why Stripe Atlas Will Improve How Entrepreneurs Start Global Businesses
- 6 + 1 Reasons Your Startup Should Not Use Stripe’s Atlas
- Stripe Atlas’ Hidden Benefit: Unlocking US VC Money To Startups Everywhere
Incorporating A Company & Opening A Bank Account In The U.S. From Anywhere In The World
Here is what you will get when using Stripe Atlas:
- An incorporated company in the U.S.
- A U.S. bank account and a U.S. tax ID number.
- A Stripe account to accept payments from around the world.
- Guidance about U.S. law and taxes from Orrick and PwC. (This is optional and costs money. You can also use any 3rd party lawyer or company for this.)
- Access to tools and resources from Amazon Web Services (as well as $15,000 in AWS promotional credits for beta users).
Here is the complete FAQ on getting started with Stripe Atlas.
- Stripe lets anyone open a “C-Corporation” company in Delaware, U.S.A.
Note: Right now they don’t support LLCs.
Here is a good guide that helps you understand the tax benefits of each type of company.
In my country, India, we have three companies who can give a Stripe invite:
Stripe charges $500 for the whole process of setting up your company.
However, there are additional costs for bylaws, actions of incorporator, and notices of stock issuance. Stripe will help you connect with companies who can do this for you & also help you with tax filing. You can also hire any 3rd party CPA or company to help with these things.
If you are in India, you can drop me an email. I will connect you to a team who can help you with everything from documentation to tax submission to post-company incorporation.
When you get the invite, click on the link in the email to start the process. You need to have a Stripe account & if you don’t have one, it will ask you to create one.
Click on “Get started”.
The first step is to add details about your company.
Click on “Next”.
Now it’s time for your company name.
Here you need to assign directors, shares, and all other details for your team. This is an easy step & if you are working alone, you can allocate 100% of the shares to yourself.
Now you need to assign an administrator for your U.S. account. Once that’s done, you need to add your payment details.
Note: You’ll only be charged when your bank account and entity are fully opened.
Once you hit “Pay and Submit”, you will get a confirmation email from the Stripe Atlas team.
Here are the main highlights of the email:
- We’re currently generating documents to incorporate your company and open your bank account. We will share an e-signature link with you in the next couple of days, so you can review these documents and sign them when you’re ready.
- After you sign the documents, you will be able to enroll in the Amazon Web Services Activate Portfolio Package, with access to $15,000 in AWS credits.
- Your company and bank account will typically be set up within a week of signing the documents, and your Employer Identification Number a week after that.
Now, the next few days will pass quickly or slowly, depending upon your desperation to get your U.S.A bank account & company incorporation!
Review & Sign
It took about nine days for me to get an email from the Stripe team.
The process is a little time-consuming as you should thoroughly review the document before signing it. You just need to sign in one place (use your initials or scribble your actual signature using the mouse).
Once you have signed and submitted the document (all done automatically & online), you have the option to either download the document in .pdf format or print it for your records.
Receiving Incorporation & Bank Account
For me, it took about ten days after submitting for them to complete the process.
Then, ten days later, they sent me a certificate of incorporation.
They also applied for my EIN number (i.e. registered with the IRS). It took less than 2 weeks to receive my newly incorporated company EIN number.
At the same time, they also opened a bank account under my company name in Silicon Valley Bank. Once your bank account is opened, they will automatically link your Stripe account with this bank account.
Note: Silicon Valley Bank will waive account maintenance fees for the first 24 months.
The only thing I don’t like about Silicon Valley Bank is they don’t offer debit or credit cards. For me, I will be opening up a bank account with Bank of America or Chase when I visit the U.S. in January 2017 to deliver my talk at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas.
Here are things you will be doing post-company incorporation in Delaware:
- File an annual report with Delaware, which costs $50.
- Pay an annual Franchise Tax to the state of Delaware—a minimum of $175 per year.
- Pay federal income tax on income generated in the U.S. A.
These things can be done by hiring your own legal counsel or tax advisor. Stripe Atlas users have access to a legal guide prepared by Orrick, a tax guide prepared by PwC, and a free consultation call with an expert from PwC.
Note: PwC and Orrick will not provide tailored tax advice unless you ask them to represent you directly as a client.
Life After Incorporating & Opening A Bank Account In The U.S.A.
The very first thing I did after all of this is hired a legal counselor and tax advisor. He & his team are now taking care of all tax audits, filings, and everything else that needs to be done.
I also opened a PayPal account in the U.S. that allows me to receive payment from anywhere in the world & without restrictions.
However, I’m still in the learning phase & trying to figure everything out.
If you are from India like me, you also need to know about double taxation. Your Indian CA or legal counselor will be able to advise you better on this. But this is definitely something you should be aware of.
I will be sharing more tips & tricks as we move further ahead with our newly incorporated business.
I hope this guide has given you a new perspective & vision for your future. If you know of more countries or places which are tax heavens or business-friendly, do let us know about them in the comments section below. Also, I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences with this and related endeavors.
See you in the comments!
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