Sunday, January 24, 2016

How to Open a US AdSense Account?

Stick figure girl with brown hair and pink dress holding a yellow question mark on a blue background.This is a question that has the world's easiest answer. You DON'T (ie: CANNOT) open an Adsense account in the United States unless you LIVE in the United States.

Giving information in your AdSense application that IS NOT TRUE is considered fraud. Fraud can get you into more problems than you ever wanted to face. Tax problems, government problems ... even legal problems. US tax regulations are fairly complex, which means the chances of a non-US individual actually understanding them, or understanding the ramifications of lying on an application are fairly small.

When you sign up for Adsense, you must provide true and correct information, and by submitting the application and accepting the terms of use, you are certifying the information you provided is true. If you give a false name (ie: someone else's name), or a false address you are now committing fraud. So right away, from the moment you sign up and agree to the terms, you are setting yourself up for legal sanction.

US Terms of Service for Adsense
12. Representations; Warranties; Disclaimers
You represent and warrant that (i) you have full power and authority to enter into the Agreement; (ii) you are the owner of, or are legally authorized to act on behalf of the owner of, each Property; (iii) you are the technical and editorial decision maker in relation to each Property on which the Services are implemented and that you have control over the way in which the Services are implemented on each Property; (iv) Google has never previously terminated or otherwise disabled an AdSense account created by you due to your breach of the Agreement or due to invalid activity; (v) entering into or performing under the Agreement will not violate any agreement you have with a third party or any third-party rights; and (vi) all of the information provided by you to Google is correct and current.
I fail to see how providing a fake US address to Adsense is "correct". Obviously, it isn't.

Three stick people, either angry or frustrated holding money and question marks.
What makes this the most ridiculous is that by providing a wrong address or wrong country when signing up, you're pretty much ensuring you will not be able to collect your earnings from Adsense. Oh ... I guess you didn't know that, right?

Regardless of what other blogs will tell you about getting a US account when you don't live there, the problem you'd face in certifying your tax information will prevent you from being able to receive earnings. When you have a US address in your AdSense account, you have US activity (or a US presence), and that means you cannot claim that you have no US activities. Unless you have a tax exemption from the government, you can't claim an exemption from filing the tax either. You have to provide your SSN in the tax submission, and if you don't live in the US, you don't have one. If you get a TIN (tax ID number) from the US, you end up having to file income taxes in the US.

Are you getting it yet? You can't do this without getting into trouble.

US tax laws are designed to prevent this sort of activity - receiving earnings using fake information. This would pretty much ensure that you wind up being investigated for money laundering by trying to trick the government (which is what you're doing by signing up with a US address if you don't live in the US or don't own a business* or property in the US).
*note that some businesses owned by non-US citizens that actually have a US presence/location can use a US address provided they qualify under the tax laws for business in the US. 
So people ... have fun with that. Because you are seriously messing with your future by trying to get around the country rules for Adsense.

A curly-haired stick figure girl in pink dress holding a large green dollar sign.Apart from that, if your AdSense account has a US address, then you need to have your payments deposited to a bank account physically located in the US, so I guess you'll be getting on a plane, flying to the US and trying to talk some bank into opening a bank account for you, even though you don't live in the US.

The only payment method available in an account with a US address is EFT (no more cheque payments, and no Western Union). When using EFT, the bank account must have your name on it (ie: the name of the payee in the AdSense account, which you cannot change to that of another person), and it must be located at a bank in the US (Adsense Payment Methods).  Trying to use a bank with someone else's name will not work (most US banks would reject the deposit if the names don't match, and 99% of the time, you will not be able to change the country in your Adsense account after approval), nor will a bank outside of the US work:

Why did my test deposit fail?

There are a number of reasons why your test deposit might fail. We have provided a detailed list below.
  • Incorrect bank account number or bank codes (the required information will vary by country)
  • Bank account is closed
  • Bank is not located in the same country entered in your AdSense account
  • Bank account is not in the local currency of the country entered in your AdSense account
  • Bank account is not set up to receive incoming ACH/EFT
  • Your bank code changed as the result of a recent bank merger

Nearly all the major banks require you live in the US or at least have an actual physical address in the US (property you own), and photo-ID and documents to prove that before they'll open a bank account for you.  (Note that depending on where you live, virtual bank accounts cannot be used for collecting earnings. In some cases Adsense requires that you have a physical brick and mortar bank account - that means a real bank, not a virtual one.)

A stick figure man with bald head, mustache and beard with a bright light bulb over his head.
We tried to set up one ourselves (a real bank account at a US bank) - not for Adsense, I get paid just fine to my Canadian bank account, but because we holiday in the US nearly every year and figured it would be easier to have money in a US bank so we could access it while on holidays. Because we didn't live there and didn't have property there, no bank would open one for us. Nice huh?

So in the end, the simplest answer to the question "how can I open a US Adsense account" is "move to the US", because giving false information can get you in big trouble.

As a friend once said to me ... "lying to the government is bad juju". And lying to Adsense can be just as bad.

posted by J. Gracey Stinson


  1. Hi Gracey,
    If you dig deeper into the discussion, the background to why so many people are eager to asking that question "How can I open a US AdSense account?" is that with the same quality of content on one's website / YouTube channel; it is much easier to get approved if one applies with a US address / identity. Doesn't this sound a discriminatory policy? If this wasn't the case, nobody would have wondered to ponder over that question.

    1. Hi Naveed. I suppose it could be seen as a discriminatory policy, but if you really want the truth, it's because historically, there are certain countries where publishers (in the past, and probably still today) have created these issues themselves. In some places, the proliferation of scammers, spammers and fraudulent earnings have made it so Adsense needed to be careful about the approvals, and make sure the sites being submitted and the people owning the sites were really the type of people who understood the rules.

      Unfortunately, that hasn't really worked all that well either, so now we have all these fraudulent accounts for people who can not get paid.

      What's worse? Waiting a little longer to get approved through a proper account, or trying to get one you can never collect your funds from?

      I personally have always felt that the six months rule should apply world-wide, to every country.

      That probably wouldn't stop these people though, because a number of them actually live in countries where AdSense is not allowed to do business. Until the governments lift those restrictions, people in some countries could never use Adsense with their own address, but that doesn't excuse the from creating fraudulent account.


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