Can a prospective merchant who is a foreign citizen and owns a US business, but has no social security number get a US merchant account? No, you cannot get a merchant account with any US financial institution due to financial regulations, including the US Patriot Act.
A social security number is not specifically mandated to get a merchant account. The US Patriot Act requires financial institutions to create and maintain procedures to verify identity, and the social security number is a tool universally chosen to do that.
Your alternative options include finding a US partner. The partner would have to own more than 50% of the company, and as an officer have signature authority. Another option is to find an offshore company that provides merchant services to US businesses. If you’re processing at least $12 million annually, we can refer you to resources. The final option is alternative payments. With this option, you’re not opening a traditional merchant account, but accept alternative payment method. Paypal is one of the most widely available programs with international options.