As an existing non-resident Shopify seller, you likely started your Shopify store with Shopify payments linked to your region.
However, if you’d like to set up a Shopify Payments account for a region different from your location, such as the U.S., you can submit your case to the Shopify Support Team and follow the steps below.
Not Everyone Will Qualify for Shopify Payments (Even If You Meet All the Steps)
However, having the requested documents does not guarantee that you’ll be approved for Shopify Payments. Shopify’s internal specialist teams will ultimately make the call regarding supportability.
What is Required to Qualify for Shopify Payments?
A business must have physical operations on US soil to use Shopify Payments US. A USD checking account is also needed, opened with a US banking institution and located on US soil. Virtual banks and currency services will not work for this, as it has to be an actual US bank.
Items you will need to be ELIGIBLE for Shopify Payments U.S.
- US Tax ID: To get a Shopify Payments US account, you’ll need a US tax identification number (TIN). If you’re a business like an LLC or Corporation, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You’ll need a Social Security Number (SSN) if you’re a Sole Proprietor.
- Physical Operations in the US: A US tax ID isn’t enough. Your business needs to have a physical presence in the United States. This means having a real operation there. A lease agreement is required (which we do provide) as part of our virtual address service with our U.S. entities. Specifically, here is what Shopify says about this part to qualify for Shopify Payments: In order to be eligible for Shopify payments in a particular region, you must EITHER (a) be PHYSICALLY present within that region (not 99% of you as non-residents), OR (b), have an OPERATIONAL presence with that region.
To establish PHYSICAL PRESENCE, they will require a document in your name (personal name) such as a utility bill (e.g., water, electricity, or gas bill from the past three months (not cell phone), PERSONAL LEASE AGREEMENT (dated) OR property insurance (dated).
By the way, this is the same evaluation in 2024 for local banks in the U.S. for a personal bank account (which has changed in the last two years); they want you to lease an apartment in your own name and have one major utility bill in your own name with that address.
If you are NOT physically present within the region selected, we would INSTEAD need to establish an OPERATIONAL PRESENCE. This can be done, for example, by showing you have RENTED or OWNED warehouse space or retail space in the U.S. For example, see warehouse space for sale in Las Vegas at this link. Here is warehouse space for rent in Las Vegas at this link.
Please note (from Shopify) that registering a company within a region is NOT sufficient to establish an operational presence. Translation: a cheap online LLC with an EIN and address will not qualify you for Shopify payments in the U.S.
- Government-Issued Photo ID: You’ll need a government-issued ID with your photo on it (like a driver’s license or passport) for verification. Sometimes, they might accept non-US IDs, but it’s best to check with Shopify.
- Business Registration Document: Ensure your business is officially registered in the US. This proves that your business is legitimate. The key is, are you creating a U.S. person? And you need to be clear on the U.S. tax responsibilities that it creates.
- Proof of US Operation: You must show evidence that your business operates from the US. A bank statement or forwarding service won’t work as proof. It would be best if you had something more reliable. A utility bill and lease agreement is recommended.
- USD Checking Account: You’ll need a real US bank account in US dollars to handle transactions. Virtual banks or currency services won’t be accepted.
SSN or ITIN Verification
U.S. merchants enjoy the convenience of Shopify Payments, but there are specific requirements they must meet to use the U.S. version of this payment gateway. Let’s explore the obligations of U.S. merchants:
U.S. merchants setting up a Shopify Payments US account must provide all nine digits of their Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for verification purposes. This is a mandatory step, even if the merchant already has an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for their business.
This rule still applies even if you have an EIN for your business. Shopify needs to bypass this step on sign-up. To learn more about this, refer to the US Shopify Payment Terms of Service: Section B-3.
Meeting this requirement helps Shopify ensure the merchant is a legitimate entity operating in the U.S. and adheres to relevant regulations and tax laws.
Processing Time for ITIN
In situations where obtaining an ITIN is necessary, it’s important to consider the potential impact on your LLC’s setup in the short and long term. Processing an ITIN application can take time, typically extending to 3-4 months. Therefore, planning accordingly and anticipating delays during this process is essential.
Possible Exemptions for ITIN
In some cases, Shopify may waive the requirement for an ITIN based on the account holder’s unique circumstances. Each case is reviewed individually, and exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis. If Shopify determines that the account holder’s circumstances warrant an exemption, they may proceed without an ITIN.
Considerations for Setting up the LLC
When setting up your LLC, it’s essential to consider the potential need for an ITIN, especially if you plan to use Shopify Payments as your payment gateway. This consideration becomes even more critical if you use your LLC as the legal entity for insurance purposes on platforms like Amazon.
An LLC in the U.S. can be taxed in four different ways, and only three apply to most non-residents: an LLC disregarded for tax purposes, an LLC taxed as a corporation, or an LLC taxed as a partnership. The only option to obtain an ITIN with the LLC is an LLC that is disregarded for tax purposes, and an ITIN is usually only available when personal U.S. taxes are due on a 1040NR tax return. When you form an LLC, how it is managed and a complete formation with formalities to protect your U.S. business is key. Completing a W-9 means you are creating a U.S. person for tax purposes.
Another key is understanding your full U.S. tax responsibilities when you form a single-member LLC that is disregarded to determine if the LLC or owner is engaged in a U.S. trade or business and has effectively connected income.
Separately, it is the responsibility of sales tax compliance. Only turn on sales tax settings in all states by knowing the tax rules and being licensed in each state where you have crossed nexus thresholds or have physical nexus.
How to Update Your Shopify Store to Qualify for Shopify Payments U.S.
You can change your address to a US location. Access your dashboard and click the “Settings” option to get started. If you go to “Payments, “you will see the option to activate the Shopify payment gateway.
- Form an LLC US Company (Consult with NCP first).
- Apply For an EIN Number
- Get a US Phone Number
- Get a US Address
- Get a US Bank Account
- Obtain an ITIN
Once you’ve successfully established your US company, whether a US citizen or a non-US citizen, the next step is to activate your Shopify payment gateway using the information obtained during your LLC formation.
Before activating, update your store address to the US address in your LLC documents. This US address can be utilized for your business or online applications.
During the Shopify payments activation process, you may encounter a field requesting your SSN’s last four (4) digits. In this case, you can replace it with the last four (4) digits of your ITIN.
Complete the remaining personal details as required, submit the information, and the Shopify review team soon notify you to determine if your application has been approved or if additional information is required.
Shopify’s verification takes place by activating the Shopify Payments account.
The instruction says to change or update the store address to a US address but doesn’t ask for any verification.
The next step is to activate Shopify Payments. You would only need to provide entity documents to activate Shopify Payments.
If applicable, you can enter your Business Number or Tax Identification Number depending on which country your business is located in.
They will ask the following:
- Business Type
- Individual/Sole Proprietorship – need SSN/ITIN or SIN – Social Insurance Number (for Canada)
- Business Number/TIN
- Business Address
- Personal Details
- First and Last Name
- Product Details
- Customer Billing Statement
- Banking Information
If your store is in Europe, you must provide a VAT number or indicate that you don’t have one.
If you set up your Shopify Payments account as a Corporation or LLC, you will still need to provide the name and date of birth of someone associated with the business. This is a requirement for verification purposes.
All businesses must submit a tax ID and are responsible for collecting and remitting tax on their sales.
You may also need to submit details about you and your business. This information is used to help identify merchants using Shopify Payments and is a requirement to comply with the terms of service.
What is required may differ from country to country. Typically, this includes:
- documentation about the business associated with the Shopify Payments account
- owner of the business
- or an individual with signing authority for the business.
If Shopify is unable to verify your identity using the information above, you may be asked to submit additional documentation that could include the following:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of home address
- or, Proof of business verification
If your business can’t be verified using the information you provided at the time of Shopify Payments sign-up, additional documentation might be requested. Just so you know, the documents that you provide must include the business name, business address, and company registration number or VAT number.
For business verification, upload your official federal business registration document, including your federal tax registration number, if available.
Business documents require the following:
- Documents must be clear and large enough to read.
- Documents must be valid and representative of up-to-date registration.
- Complete documents must be uploaded. A complete document contains the following:
- The full business name, business address, and either VAT number OR company registration number are clearly stated and legible.
- All pages of a multiple-page document. Upload a PDF containing all the relevant pages.
- Documents can be uploaded in .png, .jpg, or .pdf format.
To help the verification process, when providing documents as evidence, ensure that your documentation:
- is clear and large enough to read
- is correct, valid, and up-to-date
- is complete with all details visible
- is free of any errors or typos
- matches the information provided
Your identity, home address, and proof of entity documents must be reviewed and matched successfully to the information on your Shopify Payments account before your business can be fully verified.
Reviews of your Shopify Payments account can take up to 3 business days to complete.
Important: You must complete your Shopify Payments account setup, including all your business details and banking information, within 21 days of your first sale. If your account isn’t set up within 21 days, then payments might be automatically refunded to the customer.
For merchants in the European Union and Hong Kong, you need to complete the setup of your Shopify Payments account before you can accept payments from customers.
The first step is to schedule a strategy call to determine the U.S. LLC structure, ownership, and U.S. taxation for your situation. Learn more at this link.