I need a non-US bank that a US citizen can open online, as a non-resident, and without visiting the country

Hey all,

First post here and so excited to be part of this community. I’m a US citizen looking to open a personal non-US bank account that allows ATM withdrawals. I need to be able to open it online, as a non-residents, and without visiting the country. Any suggestions?

I’m currently exploring the options in the community discussions here and here, but I’m having trouble finding one that actually fits my requirements. Ones that seem easy to open online seem to not be available for US citizens and ones that US citizens can open seem to be US banks.

The reason I need a non-US bank is because of some geo-political tension between the country in which I reside and the US. There’s rumors that the country or the US might cease financial network cooperation, and I’d like to still be able to withdrawal cash! My thinking is to transfer from my US bank account to this new non-US account, and then either use an ATM card or transfer into my local bank account from the non-US account.

Any suggestions or ideas?

You probably need to consider account size here. There are many banks that will help if you are willing to put in multiple six figures. Without that it’s probably more problematic.

You might try dukascopy. It’s not ideal and you’ll pay but you’ll probably pay through the nose one way or the other.

That’s a good point on considering the size. Since this is more of a “emergency use” account, I don’t intend on keeping significant resources there; enough & enough activity to keep it open and avoid fees, but it won’t be my primary.

Unfortunately, Dukascopy doesn’t open accounts for US citizens :confused:. Still looking

ok that is just going to make it harder, then.
are you sure you cannot travel? there are banks in panama that will help you. I’ve seen a widge that you can get an account in the netherlands if you can visit. Canadian banks will help you.

Hi Mark,

It is not a full fledged bank account but you could open an account with Transferwise that will give you bank account addresses in many countries that you can send money to and you can order a debit card to take cash withdrawals.
https://transferwise.com/invite/u/callumr38

At present, no, I can’t travel, given COVID restrictions/bans both going to other countries and returning to my own. I hope that eventually I can travel, though! I intend to travel with this in mind and go to a place where I can get a non-resident bank account, but in person. Canada will be a logical choice the next time I return to the US. Definitely will make a visit up there.

Thanks–I have Transferwise already and need to see if it can solve my problem exactly. Trouble is that I don’t just need funds in a different currency to withdraw in my country–I need a bank that wouldn’t utilize SWIFT or be a “US bank.” I need to look into where Transferwise falls on both of those accounts.

Travel restrictions might occur also in the future,it migh be an advantage to choose an intitution which doesnt require personal presence to open an account.Anyway,some kind of electronic identity scan ,which I dont recommend to get in your body,will be necessary to travel freely in the future and use any financial access online.
UN and WEF are working on it,investors put their money into bitcoin to avoid inflation,ECB has registered the term “digital euro”!

You might try HSBC Expat bank. It doesn’t get talked about much. It’s not cheap fee-wise. But they do deal with US citizens who are offshore, they don’t require presence to open an account, it’s jersey/guernsey, they don’t have huge minimums (you probably need 30-50k, been a while since I looked), they operate in USD/EUR/GBP, they offer cards, they’re part of SEPA so they can do EUR6 transfers into EU (and that should survive Brexit because jersey is in that weird legal middle-land of the channel islands). Depending on your country, they might have branches there and maybe you can meet HSBC Premier requirements which might help as well. The one odd thing about them is that they insist that you actually BE an expat - e.g. you can’t open an account with them until you’ve left the country of your citizenship or until it is imminent. I’m sure there’s a reason/logic and I’m sure I don’t entirely get it.

@tkrunning this might be worth noting in one of your broader articles. It won’t meet everyone’s needs but it is a fairly unique niche they fit into and their advertising clearly sucks (like so much else about HSBC) so no one ever mentions them. I tried opening an account but I’m still onshore so they said no but it was otherwise straightforward, just that it required a ton of paper forms.

That’s a great point–the banks that I could open online as a non-resident are gonna be the best kind of banks to maintain service with as an expat. Great point.

Great suggestion, I’ll look into it. Thanks!

You are going to have a hard time finding a Bank that does not use SWIFT. From what I understand Transferwise does not.

I never tried it myself. but I believe you can open an international account entirely online at barclays.

Most everyone uses SWIFT to some extent. Transferwise would use it I’m sure. They mostly don’t move lots via SWIFT because they are just doing balance of payment offsets - if Bob in Greece transfers eur10 to Alice in the US, and Alice transfers eur10 to Joe in Spain, Transferwise doesn’t have to transfer anything at all, which is how it can avoid paying fees. It’s under there though.

You can’t let yourself be paralyzed by SWIFT/not-SWIFT. Sure there are risks. But to pretend you understand the entire system well enough to avoid all risk… You do the best you can. if you have a second account with cards and etc to work from then you’re ahead. If you’re concerned about SWIFT paralyzation to that extent, you’re not getting money out of the US one way or the other because they can block all transfer to country X, including from country Y, and there aren’t a ton of other ways at this point for cross-country currency transfer unless you want to do the whole bitcoin thing and that has its own issues and risks. If you want safety from that, move your money offshore now. If you don’t have a lot of it and you’re dependent on US income, you’re hosed one way or the other.

Awesome, thanks for the link!

Great point. A step ahead of others is better than nothing :grinning:.

Ok, this option is the winner so far! Higher deposit limits than I was hoping, but it fits all the other criteria: I can open it online, as a US citizen, hold my cash in another currency and in another country, and use an ATM to withdrawal it worldwide. I’m not sure if the ATM method uses SWIFT or not, but it’s definitely a non-US bank and so it should get around my issue. Thank you SO much for the link!

I am glad that you found it useful. I heard that their service is great.

HSBC Expat are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard!
Also no chance for a US citizen