Opening a company in the USA as a relevant solution to problems with payments, cards and transfers today

Many are looking for ways to open an account from Russia remotely in a normal foreign bank. But let’s face it: it’s either unrealistic right away, or it entails various difficulties in the form of blocking and restrictions in the future.

A company in the USA is an absolutely complete solution. For me, this is the easiest, most convenient, reliable and cheapest (!) way to exist in the current realities for everyone who is in the least connected with cross-border work / transactions. Including payment for services.

Disclaimer: I’m not a consultant on this topic, I just have my own experience, which I put on a small survey and current perspectives, and I want to share. I will be glad to any clarifications, opportunities, stories about experience in the comments. In ordinary life, I am a co-founder of the YC startup Beau.

Now they often write that it is impossible to open a bank account for a company with a Russian passport. However, in banks and assistant services (Stripe Atlas, Firebase, Clerky, etc.) not people, but territories are prohibited: if you plan to do business in Russia, then you can’t. Yes, this is also determined by the residency of the founder. In other words, a residence permit in another country solves all problems.

Lists of banned countries are interesting in services that help to open a company – Burundi, Central African Republic, North Korea, Venezuela, Russia, etc. Sobering.

If you do not have a residence permit in another country, then here is a simple hack – open a company, adding a non-resident of the Russian Federation to it: he can be with a Russian passport, but live abroad. Sometimes (but not always) one such founder (main applicant) is enough, and the rest may well be residents in Russia. After receiving all the documents (including EIN) and opening a bank account, no one forbids changing the composition of the founders. And you can not do this at all.

I have personal experience: for the first time, about 5 years ago, Stripe Atlas refused to open a company due to the fact that I was formally a resident of the Russian Federation (there was no residence permit in another country). Therefore, such a policy did not appear in recent weeks, as many people think, but a long time ago.

cooperate

Why do you need a legal entity, of course, everyone understands, but to broaden my horizons I will throw you this abstract non-standard, but relevant today example, which I myself would use if I were a freelancer in Russia with a periodic income outside the country: a group of “freelancers” (trusting each other) can agree and open an LLC or C-Corp together to accept payment from freelance exchanges, directly from clients, from marketplaces, etc. With a company in the US, all first world possibilities are open.

In the current conditions, the principle “do not have a hundred rubles, but have a hundred friends” has sparkled with new colors.

Even if we are talking about small freelancer turnover (up to $500 per month), this format is beneficial, especially if expenses to run the company are divided into several people.

C-corp or LLC? Which state?

Often here they like to complicate things. When choosing, it is very useful to google for an hour for a general understanding, but in general this is: Minimize taxes? Ccorp! Plans to move to the US for permanent residence? LLC! At least a tiny chance that investments will be attracted? C-corp in Delaware! Just customer service? C-Corp in Wyoming or a couple of other states – the service will be much cheaper. And if you make a “cooperative”, as described above, then generally a penny.

For registration, I would recommend using some service (Stripe Atlas, Firebase, Clerky, etc.), and not on your own or through a lawyer. Because it is easier to open a bank account through services.

For a bank, there are essentially only two neobanks, Brex and Mercury. The second one stopped sending payments to Russia, while the Brex is still holding on and promises not to deprive it of such an opportunity.

But what about the huge taxes in the US?

They will arise only if the company has a profit at the end of the year. I’ll tell you a super secret (no): the vast majority of c-corps with non-US residents pay almost nothing – there is no taxable income in the US. Especially if it is a small company – a typical agency, etc. But of course the tax arises at the place of residence.

By the way, taxes are one of the weighty reasons why founders / freelancers / agencies constantly living in the USA means losing a lot in the quality of life.

Bonuses

You can get a lot of perks (usually a year of free use or significant discounts) on services like Digital Ocean, Slack, Deel, Webflow, Airtable and many others.

You can issue cards for everyone (virtual and physical) and use – this solves the problem of getting mastercard / visa working all over the world.

What about the sanctions? What if everything is banned?

It seems that citizens of the Russian Federation were forbidden to establish companies abroad? And transfer currency? And will it get worse?

Here I can only guess. But I am sure that there will be no restrictions from the United States at our grassroots level – just look at what passports people calmly have c-corp and work for years. There is a slight hysteria in the EU (unlike Britain for example): the closure of accounts in many countries. For example, French banks, including Societe Generale, restricted thousands of bills even for people with French passports. This is how the banks of some countries frivolously interpret the recommendations of their central banks. So a company in the USA looks much more reliable for IT people than any other option.

By the way, it is obvious that all this bad, including a lot of additional compliance, will also apply to citizens of Ukraine. The reason is simple – in the conditions of war there are many gray schemes that are unpleasant to the whitest (in quotation marks) Western banks.

On the part of Russia, it is more difficult: new recommendations of the Central Bank and decrees on regulation rules are issued every week. In fact, the only reliable option is to make yourself a resident of another country. In all other cases, you will have to be guided by the principles of “we choose the lesser of two evils” and “to be afraid of wolves – do not go into the forest.”


In general, if you periodically need to accept payments from counterparties from all over the world, pay for services / services, and just temporarily store money, then I would advise you to seriously consider opening a company in the USA. It solves a lot of pressing problems.

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