How to legally use American online services in Africa

If you’ve left the United States in pursuit of career goals or you’re looking to take part in what the big US of A has to offer, making use of online services while you’re not physically in the country can be a challenge. From online content and business services to banking, it isn’t always easy to make use of vital services whether you’re a US resident or not.

Various red tape measures can stand in the way of legitimately making use of multiple services, but it’s not impossible. Often it’s about understanding the red tape, what channels you need to go through and what processes to follow to open up these services to you. 

Whether you want to access the ultimate guide on virtual sports via US-based content, access critical financial services, or become a global shopper, here are a few ways to access several online services in the US legally.

Accessing US-based content

If you’re a sports fanatic and you follow all sporting activity online no matter the region, it can be pretty frustrating when you can’t access specific live viewings. Many times, you’ll be faced with a “sorry this content isn’t available in your region” message. Several pay-per-view and streaming services will restrict access purely because you’re in a different country. 

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Online content subscriptions in the US are well known to restrict access based on location for several reasons. These include federal economic sanctions and mitigating hacking risks that can often originate outside of the US. While these reasons are legitimate, it prevents those of us who actually want to just watch sport, or any type of online content for that matter, from doing so.

This process of restricting online content based on location is known as geoblocking, and there’s one primary route to getting around this.

Install a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN is software that creates a secure tunnel between the world wide web and the end-user. All transferred data is encrypted for safety, and the user’s IP address is hidden from all websites they visit.

This means that any website you visit will not be able to detect your location – no matter where you are – and not restrict your access to its content. You can view sport or any online content produced in the US without restrictions, and most importantly, you can do so legally.

How to set up a VPN

Once you choose a VPN provider, the setup is pretty simple:

  1. Choose your VPN package
  2. Create an account, sign in and install the VPN software
  3. Log in to the software
  4. Choose the locations you want to connect to (in this case, the US)
  5. Connect and start watching your desired content

Registering a US company online

Ever wanted to expand your business horizons and open up or expand your company into the US market? If you aren’t a US citizen or don’t reside in the US, the process can be lengthy but not impossible! While some restrictions exist, you can still legally register a US company online from Africa if you follow a handful of steps to comply with all the requirements. It all starts with company registration.

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Company structures available to non-residents

First things first, not all company structures are available to non-residents. Two company structures are eligible for non-residents to register their business under a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and a Corporation (C-Corp).

A number of businesses choose to register as a C-Corp rather than an LLC, mainly because it gives business owners the option to scale up to more easily with no limits on stock. The advantage of an LLC is its limited liability. Owners are protected from all personal liability if the company gets into debt.

Steps to register a company

1. Obtain a business visa

Whether you plan to move to the US or not, you will need to obtain a business visa to set up a legal business. There are several visa options to choose from, they are:

L-1A visa – If you have an active business outside of the US that has been trading for at least a year with four or more employees.

E-2 visa – If your business has been operating for less than a year and you have less than four employees.

E-2 visa – If you want to move to the US to start up a new business.

2. Choose a business name

You must choose a name that has not yet been registered in the US. You will be able to search for a name via the US Patent and Trademark Office.

3. Register with a state agency

Choose a US state where you will host all of your business dealings, including income, meetings and employees.

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4. Choose a registered agent

You will need to nominate a US-based person who receives and safeguards all of your official business documents papers.

5.Open a business bank account

You are required to open a bank account for your business transactions. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank accept applications from foreign nationals. Otherwise, there are digital options such as programsWise which is a simple online platform available to non-residents.

Shopping online

Have you ever wanted to shop online via a US website, but because you’re not in the country the option to ship to your address is just not available to you? Perhaps you’re looking for more affordable options, or the product you’ve set your eyes on is only available via US-based websites like Amazon or eBay. While a few years ago you would have to give up on any products you couldn’t locate locally, this has now changed with the introduction of assisted purchase programs.

Get a US address via a third-party platform

Third-party shipping platforms like Shipito assist online shoppers abroad by managing the shopping process on behalf of websites that don’t offer international shipping. Once you’ve chosen the product you want to buy, it will be sent to Shipito’s warehouse, where it will then be forwarded to your local address. With Shipito’s warehouse used as your US-based address, you can shop online to your heart’s content.

From online content to business operations and even online shopping, you can use services in the US, safely and legally, from Africa by following a few simple steps.

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