Opening US Bank account for US citizen while abroad

I am an American citizen with a social security number, but I’m currently living abroad and am not planning on visiting any time soon, and I don’t have any state-issued ID. Is there a bank that will allow me to open up an account online without proving a residential address in the US? I have relatives in the US that I can use their address to receive bank-related mail.

I know this is similar to Can I open a US bank account even if I don't live in the country?, but not exactly the same.

2 thoughts on “Opening US Bank account for US citizen while abroad

  1. ClearCloud8

    I opened a Discover Bank account (same company that provides Discover credit card) before I left the US. And it was all online. I did not have to meet anyone in person.

    Also PRO TIP: Use Skype to make 1-800 phone calls on Wifi for free while abroad! You can call and talk to your bank for free.

  2. Joel Spolsky

    You will have two problems, in my experience:

    • US banks operate under Know Your Customer laws which they usually interpret to mean that they have to see you in the flesh before they let you open an account
    • US banks are almost always unable to deal with mailing addresses outside the US (for statements, etc.)

    The best way to solve this problem is to open your account on your next trip to the US and get statements mailed to your relatives; that shouldn’t be a problem to do with a passport.

    You should be able to get a state-issued ID from the same place that offers drivers’ licenses pretty quickly (see here for New York State)

    Since you said you’re not planning a trip to the US, it may be trickier. There is one American bank I know of which has a service for expatriates that has an office in Tel Aviv (Citibank) and they might be able to help you open an account.

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