Stripe account for Medium.com for unsupported countries — walkthrough

…During the whole process of researching how to set up a Stripe account in an unsupported country, I kept thinking, ”Once I do this, I will write an article about it so other people don’t have to feel the same way.”

Everything started when my wife came up with her next big idea to become a writer on Medium. And because I was sceptical of how much money she could earn and whether it was worth investing in Stripe Atlas, since Stripe is not supported in our country, she decided to force my hand by saying, “I want this as a birthday present.”

I said we’d do it, this being so important to her, and that I’d have to find a way to do it. I still planned to leave Stripe Atlas as a last-resort option, since this was going to cost $500 to set up and about $1,000 a year. (Later on, I learned that Stripe Atlas might not be the solution for me because it is designed for startups and there is an approval process which I’m not sure I would have passed with our medium-sized endeavour). At the time, though, I was thinking, ”This is a sure thing, so let’s see what the other options might be.”
I won’t prolong telling you which solution worked for me — I opened a UK registered company.

  • It works better if you’re in the European Union (maybe not after Brexit, I don’t know)
  • You need an address in the UK — you can use an address service or a friend’s address
  • You need a bank account — you can use virtual one such as Revolut

The total cost up to now has been about 40 quid or 45 Euro, or 50 dollars.

I found an accounting company to do all the necessary accounting work for a one-time fee, once per year, and it won’t cost much more than £100.

The process:

1) Open a company

Opening a company in the UK is pretty easy, and you can do it yourself online or use a service that, as I said, costs about £40 to £50.

I used TaxNavigator, which a friend recommended to me (feel free to hit them up) and they said — “Yes, we can do that. It will take 3 days, no problem” — and they sent me the questionnaire below.

Questionnaire the accountants sent me

As I said above, you need an address in the UK. I used the address of a friend as my company’s address and my own address in Bulgaria as my home address.

I filled in the application and sent it back, they did their job and the documents were submitted. It took a bit more than 3 days because I did all of this at the time when the COVID-19 quarantine was just getting started, so it took maybe a week and a half and a couple of reminder emails from my side.

The company was incorporated.

*You’ll get two letters sent to the address of the company — one from Company House and the other from HRMC. You’ll need these for your accountant, but you can continue the process without them.

2) Open a bank account — Revolut to the rescue

Through all of my research, I learned that opening a company is not difficult at all. The tricky part is opening a bank account. You need to go there in person, you need to provide proof of address like a utility bill or some other documents and go through actually very detailed screening.

It was suggested to me that I try Revolut, maybe more than ten times. Even though I already knew that Revolut might work, my only concern was that they would probably ask for proof of address as well, but we will get into that later.

So, I opened the Revolut business page, created an account and start filling out the company information, directors’ information (me and my wife), our IDs, addresses, etc. The process was very smooth and it took me about 10 minutes. Everything was submitted and the status was “under review”.

After a short review period, I received this message: “We need a little more information from you.” Once I logged in, my biggest fear had become a reality… They needed proof of address.

Taking a quick glance at the message, I saw that you can actually change the operational address of the company where you’re based and simply provide a proof of address from your own personal address, so I did that and…

3) Open a stripe account — what we’ve been waiting for

Opening a Stripe account after following steps 1) and 2) is a piece of cake. You simply need to select the country (the UK in my case), then write in the address you used to register the company and add the bank account, which you by now have received from Revolut.

To activate your account, you need to go through almost the same process as when you opened the Revolut account, and that’s it!

You’ve got yourself a Stripe account in a fully legal way.

NB! To verify my address here in Bulgaria, I used an electricity bill in my native language — that was no problem at all. They review them in less than 24 hours.

(Extra step 1) Join the Medium Partner Program

Once you’ve got Stripe, you can enrol in the Medium Partner Program. To do that:

  • Click on your profile picture (top-right corner) and select Medium Partner Program
  • Under process choose “A Stripe express account” and hit next
  • You’ll have to fill in your company details and log in to your Stripe account.

All done!

(Extra step 2) Enter tax information

This is something that took me 2–3 hours of reading and consultation with a tax advisor.

  • Enter the company information as usual
  • Submitted form W-8BEN-E (Add your company details, your company tax number it’s in the letter you’ll get from HMRC and on treaty choose “Government”)
Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

The end of my story

My wife has managed to earn a bit more than $1500 in just three months on Medium ($1350 in the third month), so I guess I was wrong to be so sceptical. :)

I hope you’ve found this to be helpful!

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