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Let's assume I walk in a local branch of a US bank with a presence in many federal states (for example, the Wells Fargo branch in Richmond/California).

Will they be able/willing to open a Wells Fargo checking account for any state other than CA (for example, Anchorage/Alaska)?

Let's assume if I have a sufficient/probable reason (for example, I just bought an Igloo or any other property up in Alaska).

  • Do US banks accept applications for out-of-state checking accounts?
  • Are there specific banks that are more or less likely to do so?
  • Which documents, if any, do they require to proof my sufficient/probable reason for the out-of-state account opening?
  • For the chances of this to work, does it matter if I want a private or a business checking account?

Edit: As for the background, certain states do collect state tax for certain business activities if you have business in those states. In CA, that boils down to $800/year for LLCs. If your business has an account there, you qualify as "doing business in" CA.

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    What does it mean to you to have a checking account in a particular state? If you have an account at Wells Fargo (or any other national bank) you can do anything you want in any of that bank's branches anywhere in the country. There isn't a functional reason to even identify an account as a "California account" or an "Alaska account". You can put whatever address you want mail sent to on the account, no one is going to ask for any documentation. – Justin Cave Mar 31 at 23:36
  • Hey Justin, thanks for your reply. Note that there are various reasons why location matters. For example, you don't necessarily want to "do business in" a state that collects state tax for certain business activities. When you have a CA-based account, you "do business in" CA and $800/year are due. There are many more reasons. – sudonym Mar 31 at 23:44
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    @JustinCave: Some banks do indeed have different accounts in different regions. Either the terms are different (for example, reference to be governed by a different state's laws), or the parties are different (example, Citibank Association has multiple banks, which are affiliated and under common control, but they have independent registrations with the FDIC). – Ben Voigt Apr 1 at 0:12
  • @JustinCave Also, as I have experienced, your account at an out of state branch can be sold with that branch to another bank. In my case, this was HSBC selling its upstate New York branches to First Niagara. I had the option to opt out, but foolishly did not take it. First Niagara was a terrible bank, but it later got bought by Key Bank. – Eric Apr 3 at 3:08
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No, a bank branch will not open an account for you in a different state. Each state has significant local law and regulation, and a banker in CA is very unlikely to hold credentials for AK.

However, they probably will act as a customer service agent for a remote branch in the correct state; the remote branch will be making all the decisions (or submitting your application to a central clearinghouse for decisions) and officially opening your account. Expect lots of phone calls between the banker in CA and the bank in AK.

This seems even more likely to go smoothly if you start the process with the remote branch by phone, fax, or Internet, and then if your presence is needed in-branch, ask if going to the nearest branch will suffice. Being mindful of the timezones of both banks will also help.

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