One of the things you quickly learn when you join the eCommerce scene is that PayPal is king. Sure there are plenty of other ways you can receive and make payments but PayPal is definitely one of the most widely accepted and supported internationally.
The second thing you learn as a Zimbabwean is that Zimbabwean PayPal accounts can only send but not receive payments. In fact back in the day Zimbabweans could not even sign up for PayPal accounts because of ZIDERA and other U.S laws (sanctions). Now we are not sure who is to blame for the fact that Zimbabwean PayPal accounts cannot receive funds. Some say it’s the government, some say it’s still sanctions.
Regardless of who is to blame the fact of the matter is a Zimbabwean PayPal Account cannot receive payments.
Our old work around has been copied and pasted on lots of blogs
So years ago we wrote a post on how you could open a business PayPal account from Zimbabwe that would allow you to theoretically receive payments. Given the thirst for such a solution the post was and continues to be very popular. A lot of blogs out there have copied and pasted this advice onto their own sites. Some acknowledge us as the source and some don’t.
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The thing is this post was written years ago and it was written with the solemn hope that at some point PayPal would officially allow Zimbabweans to open business accounts. Unfortunately after the currency crisis came and wiped away any such delusions. It remains very unlikely PayPal will enable this feature for us in the foreseeable future but who knows.
An updated guide
The steps outlined in our early guide will most certainly not work due to the way PayPal has updated their site. This is most likely because PayPal never intended for this to work in the first place. Something these lazy bloggers copying and pasting the guide would have found out easily enough if they had bothered to follow the advice they were dishing out.
Anyway here is how you would go about opening a business account using your Zimbabwean details:
- Go to the PayPal website if you are visiting from Zimbabwe you will be redirected to paypal.com/zw/home
- Now edit the address and change it to paypal.com/za/home i.e remove the w and replace it with an a
- You will now see that you are on the South Africa site, click on sign up
- Select merchant account and click continue
- Go back to the address bar and remove the za and replace it with zw
- Now you can continue to use your Zimbabwean details
It is important to note that this is a “hack” of sorts. PayPal most certainly did not intend for you to use this work around. In all likelihood they will not be happy if you do this although you might get away with it. At some point you can expect them to close your account and seize whatever money you will have in there.
Do not do it. It violates PayPal’s terms of service and probably various U.S laws
There are legal ways to do it
If you are really about getting a PayPal and or Stripe there are various entities in the United States and other territories who will be happy to register an entity in their domicile on your behalf and get you an offshore bank account as well as either one of these. The downside is that they will charge you a fortune for the privilege. Expect to pay a minimum of $2000 real USD.