How to set up a US company for global online trade from almost anyplace in the world

By David Hammond
Patrick Collison, Stripe CEO (right)
John Collison, Stripe Co-founder (left)
image courtesy of Stripe
In February 2016, Patrick and John Collison, the co-founders of the online payment provider, Sripe, unveiled a new business offering called Stripe Atlas.

Stripe Atlas is a service suite that simplifies the process of setting up a US company optimized for global online trade and is available to entrepreneurs outside the US.

Since making Atlas available, thousands of entrepreneurs from more than 124 countries have successfully set up a US company complete with a US bank account, for just 500 US dollars, in a matter of days, and without having to visit the US.

The Stripe Atlas story  

Brothers, Patrick and John Collison, started Stripe in 2010.

They launched their online payment solution in September 2011. In just six years, Stripe grew to be worth more than  $9 billion.

While Patrick and John attended college in the US and now live and run their business in San Francisco, they grew up in a rural area of Ireland between Limerick and Dublin with a so-so Internet connection.

“A lot of our growing up was trying to get access to things we knew existed—but we were in the middle of nowhere in Ireland—they weren’t available,” says Patrick.

From that experience, the Collison brothers came up with the idea for Stripe Atlas as a way to help entrepreneurs worldwide start, run, and grow Internet businesses.

What you get with Stripe Atlas 

A Delaware C Corporation  
A Delaware C Corporation is the most used business structure among all Fortune 500 companies and the industry standard for Silicon Valley tech companies.

Running your business as a Delaware C Corporation helps inspire confidence with potential US investors. 

A US Federal tax ID number (EIN)
All business entities operating in the United States need this for filing and payment of US taxes. 

One-year enrollment with a registered agent service 
By law, a Delaware corporation needs a registered agent--someone at a Delaware address designated to receive any legal notices sent to your company in the mail. 

Since your business is not physically located in Delaware, you need to hire the services of a registered agent who can perform this function on your behalf. 

Note: With Stripe Atlas, the address provided by your registered agent is only for legal and government correspondence. So, you may also want to set up a virtual company address in the US for general business mail. 

A US bank account 
You also get a business bank account at Silicon Valley Bank—the most popular bank among tech companies.

(With Stripe Atlas, you don’t need to visit the bank or fax anything to open your account.)

The account comes with a debit card (with the exception of residents of India due to Reserve Bank of India restrictions). 

Once your Federal Tax ID number is filed, you can transfer money internationally.

A Stripe online payment account 
Stripe API (Application Program Interface) enables you to accept online payments from most of the world in 135+ currencies. 


Stripe provides the following additional services for Atlas customers:
  • Connection to a reputable accountant and attorney specializing in startups for individualized post-incorporation services. (An initial consultation with an accountant and an attorney is included with the $500 package.) 
  • Flat-rate tax preparation packages.
  • Free business templates designed for startups. 
  • A private forum to trade notes and ask questions to topic experts, Stripe representatives, and other entrepreneurs. 
  • Access to a large network of business incubators, accelerators, startup investors, and crowdfunding platforms. 
  • Five thousand dollars’ worth of promotional credits with Amazon Web Services for special access to technical labs, online training, and support. 
  • An online dashboard and depository to organize your business documents. 

Stripe Atlas may be a good match for

  • entrepreneurs outside the US who want to develop a fast-growing online global business. 
  • entrepreneurs outside the US seeking US investment capital for their business idea.
  • international companies who want to break into the US market.
  • US startups seeking a more streamlined and effective business setup process. 

Stripe Atlas is not a good match for

  • freelancers and one-person online businesses that want to stay small.
  • businesses outside the US that primarily serve customers in their local country. 
  • Prohibited businesses (see list here).
  • Residents of countries sanctioned by the US government. (In Latin America, Venezuela.) 

Ongoing costs

While it only costs 500 US dollars to start a company with Stripe Atlas, you may have additional legal fees for things like customizing the company’s bylaws and designating stock shares.

You'll also have annual maintenance costs, such as accounting services for filing your US tax return, second-year-and-beyond Delaware's Franchise tax, second-year-and-beyond registered agent fee, various bank fees, and a US virtual mailbox service.

Together, these annual maintenance costs could add up to around 2,000 US dollars per year. Plus, you may have US income taxes to pay.

How to start a company with Strip Atlas 

Stripe Atlas is still by invitation only. You can get invited in one of three ways:
  • Apply directly (you’ll find a link on the Stripe Atlas website)
  • Be invited by a current Stripe Atlas user
  • Be invited by a Stripe Atlas network partner

Stripe Atlas offers a couple of free resources to get you started 

One is an online guide titled: Starting A Real Business. It discusses incorporation, accounting, taxes, and employment issues.

You can also sign up for a free one-month email course on the Stripe Atlas home page

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