Houston - Bank account
Financial institutions must follow a customer identification programs in opening any new accounts. The details may vary from one bank to the next but the Department of Treasury regulations (31 CFR § 103.121) states that the banks must obtain the following basic information from any individual before opening an account:
- name and date of birth
- a physical street address (P.O. Box are not accepted)
- an identification number (a driving licence if you are a US resident
Non-U.S. person can use as identification number one or more of the following (DPT regulations 31 CFR § 103.121(b)(i)A)(4)(ii) ):
- a taxpayer identification number ;
- valid passport number and country of issuance (at least six months validity);
- permanent resident identification card number (known as green card);
- or number and country of issuance of any other government-issued document with a photograph where there is evidence of nationality or residence
Banks’ Customer Identification Programs (CIP) - Since the responsibility is their to establish the identity of their customers, banks can set up their own customer identification programs and may ask for additional documentation.
It is advisable to bring with you when opening a bank account:
- valid passport
- any other form of identification you may posses
- the receipt notice from the Social security Office. Apply for your Social Security Number as soon as possible. Anyone coming to the States wth work-related nonimmigrant status such as H-1B, TN, R-1, J-1, or if you are an employed F-1 student (not employed F-1 students are not eligible for a Social Security Number). Once you receive the SSN inform the bank.
Taxpayer Identification Numbers - Banks have an obligation to report any intrerest earnings on your account, therefore they will ask your taxpayer identification number such as the Social Security Number (SSN). Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service to those individuals who are not eligible for a Social Security Number.
Here is the conundrum for the foreigners: in the ITIN application you are asked to prove that you own an interest-bearing bank account, which means that you cannot have an ITIN until you can prove you have a bank account. The bank would ask you to have an ITIN...
Well, as you can see, although the bank prefers for you to have an ITIN, they will still open a bank account if you do not have one.
Once the application is submitted, you should have a number assigned by the IRS within two months.
If your bank account does not pay any interest, then your ITIN application should be submitted in April, when you have to file your tax retunrs.
Temporary check books - Ask the bank if you can have a temporary check book while waiting for the Social Security number.
It is important to order a checkbook with your name and address. Generally, when you use a check, you will be asked for your driver's license and your telephone number.
Checks are not necessarily accepted, please carry other means of payments with you at all times.
All economy is based on credit and credit cards are widely accepted.
Your bank, if you wish, will issue you:
- a debit card
- a credit card
Bank On Houston Initiative
On January 12, 2009 has taken place the formal kick-off of Bank on Houston and its marketing campaign and Houston becomes the first city in Texas to launch a program to help residents open no, or low, cost starter bank accounts. The following key features are being offered by the banks and credit unions participating in Bank on Houston:
- A no, or low, cost checking account
- No minimum balance requirement
- Acceptance of the Mexican Matricula Card as one form of identification
- An ATM or debit card
At least one additional feature such as second chance checking accounts for people with histories of bounced checks or overdraft fees, remittances, waiver of overdraft fees, free checks or free online banking.
For additional information about this program click here