Learn more about opening a new bank account in the US.

Customer Identification Programs (CIP's)

Banks in the U.S. are required to verify the identity of every individual who opens a bank account. In compliance with federal regulations, all banks operating in the U.S. have established Customer Identification Programs (CIP) that they must follow for anyone who seeks to open an account. While the specifics of the CIP may vary from one bank to another, U.S. Department of Treasury regulations set forth the following minimum information that banks must obtain from you before allowing you to open an account:

  1. Proof of your name
  2. Proof of your date of birth
  3. Proof of your street address
  4. An Identification number *

* A non-U.S. citizen must provide one of the following identification numbers:

  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Passport number and country of issuance
  • Alien identification card number
  • Number and country of issuance of any other government-issued document evidencing nationality or residence and bearing a photograph or other similar safeguard.

Each bank establishes its own Customer Identification Program and may ask you for more documentation than is described above.

Documentation to Bring With You

You should take the following documents with you to open your bank account:

  • Your unexpired passport
  • Your I-94
  • Your I-20, DS-2019 or H-1B approval notice (I-797)
  • Any secondary form of identification you may have (e.g. your UB Card)

In addition, you should fill out Form W-8 BEN. The W-8 BEN form is necessary to establish that you are not a U.S. citizen and to determine if taxes should be withheld from your account. This form is available at the bank itself or on the Internal Revenue Service website.