Do you Need a US Money Transfer License if You’re Licensed Elsewhere?

Yes, you do. If you’re licensed outside US and pick up customers within the United States without a money transfer license, you’re violating a US law.

Yes, that’s right. The US government makes no distinction between money transfer operating within the country and money transfer companies licensed outside the US, but picking up US customers.

According to FinCEN, companies licensed outside the US but picking up US customers will be classified as money services business. Thus, they would be required to obtain a money transfer license in the United States.

For more detailed information, watch this video:

Money Transmitter Licenses for a Startup

Money transmitter licenses are necessary for businesses that are providing financial services in the United States. According to FinCEN guidelines, you may be classified as a money services business, or MSB, if you are:

” (1) Currency dealer or exchanger. 
(2) Check casher. 
(3) Issuer of traveler’s checks, money orders or stored value. 
(4) Seller or redeemer of traveler’s checks, money orders or stored value. 
(5) Money transmitter.
(6) U.S. Postal Service. “


In this scenarios, you do not only require registration with FinCEN but also money transmitter licenses for each of the states that your business will be operating in. As a startup, it might be difficult for you to get licensed in every state since the cost and time required is quite high, however, you could start with a few states and gradually move on from there.

Read this guide for more details about money transmitter licenses in the US:

How to get Money Transmitter License coverage for your Startup?
Some practical advice on how to go about it.