After 9/11, the USA Patriot Act added more requirements for foreigners to open a financial account and start doing business in the US. In 2021, you will need at the very least the following requirements: an ID, a physical US address and an initial deposit. Depending on the financial institution and the channel you use, they might also require a Social Security Number (SSN), an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and a proof of the US address.

First and foremost, the ID must contain your full legal name, your photo and your date of birth. The most common accepted documents are unexpired passports, driver’s licenses, state-issued IDs or military IDs. Remember to bring the physical original documents to the bank branch.

Second, a physical US address is necessary to open the account. Some banks will only require to fill-in the address in a form while others might require a proof of address (billing statement, utility bill or ID with address on it). In any case, the debit card will arrive at the address you give – make sure that you or somebody else will be able to pick up the card on arrival.

Third, the initial deposit varies according to the bank. If true, you might be able to open an account with $25, but note that most banks will charge fees if you don’t have a minimum balance on the account. Before opening the account, talk with the bank representative about the different options the bank has to offer and choose the one that fulfills all your needs.

Finally, keep in mind that every bank has its own set of criteria, so be sure to research the requirements before heading to the local branch. Some of the larger banks – such as Chase and Bank of America – will require a proof of address. Meanwhile smaller institutions – such Regions Bank and the Latino Credit Union – will only require the address as an input. Don’t worry too much about the language barrier; most organizations have representatives who speak Spanish and will be eager to help you with the first step of your financial journey in the US.