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Author Topic: Do any banks offer SEPA-depositable accounts to US citizens?  (Read 7668 times)
eldentyrell
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June 19, 2012, 03:30:00 AM
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Yes, I've googled this, and all I could come up with was a few unhelpful pages at Citibank.

I run some arbitrage bots, and I'd be able to save a lot of money if I had a bank account that could receive EUR via SEPA.  I've done a few direct exchange-to-exchange SEPA transfers, but apparently this is starting to piss off the anti-money-laundering people, who want to see these transfers come from or go to an individual's bank account.

Unfortunately I'm a US citizen, which imposes obnoxious reporting requirements on any bank willing to give me an account (assuming that bank ever deals with any US banks, which most of them do).

So… anybody know of a bank that will let a US citizen open a EUR-denominated account and send+receive SEPA transfers?

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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June 19, 2012, 03:27:34 PM
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Bump because I want to know this too.

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June 19, 2012, 04:52:26 PM
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Have you asked HSBC? I'm just starting to look at international business accounts for US Citizens and HSBC seems to pop up a lot.
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June 19, 2012, 04:54:43 PM
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I looked into it but I couldn't find a method for US resident to open a SEPA capable bank account.  Not sure if there is some explicit law or if the banks just don't want the hassle.

There are some offshore banks (barclays is big on this in places like Isle of Man) which are SEPA capable but the fees make it pointless. 
Something like $20 per month, $10 per check draft (yes per check), $7 per SEPA transfer, $30 per ACH, and $50 per international wire.  Oh yeah don't forget 2.99% surcharge on debit card usage. Smiley

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June 19, 2012, 04:57:09 PM
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I haven't used the service, but I bank at PNC at they seem to offer SEPA.

eldentyrell
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June 19, 2012, 08:49:20 PM
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I haven't used the service, but I bank at PNC at they seem to offer SEPA.

I saw that webpage too but I don't think it means they offer SEPA.  I think that page is more of a "here's how banking works" page for their clients.  For example, it doesn't list their fee for SEPA transfers.

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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June 19, 2012, 08:51:20 PM
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There are some offshore banks (barclays is big on this in places like Isle of Man) which are SEPA capable but the fees make it pointless.   Something like $20 per month, $10 per check draft (yes per check), $7 per SEPA transfer, $30 per ACH, and $50 per international wire.  Oh yeah don't forget 2.99% surcharge on debit card usage. Smiley

Yeah seriously.  And the minimum balances are a killer since as a US citizen there is a very strong incentive to have no more than USD $10,000 offshore at any point in time.  If you go over that limit, even for just one night, it triggers a boatload of tax reporting requirements.  Red tape galore.

The printing press heralded the end of the Dark Ages and made the Enlightenment possible, but it took another three centuries before any country managed to put freedom of the press beyond the reach of legislators.  So it may take a while before cryptocurrencies are free of the AML-NSA-KYC surveillance plague.
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June 19, 2012, 08:56:39 PM
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I'm also interested in this. I'm curious how much trouble it would be to use BTC as a vehicle to go USD -> BTC -> EUR for a vacation. Maybe at some point in the future I'd do arb, but for now just interested in the small-time tourist forex use case.

-bgc

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June 20, 2012, 11:08:56 AM
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Opening a bank account for a non-resident would be possible, but you'd probably have to visit the bank in person.

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June 21, 2012, 03:40:20 PM
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Several banks in Latvia will open accounts by mail for US persons. Rietumu Bank is one, although I think Bitcoin-Central.net just had their bank account closed by Rietumu. Do you care to tell us why that happened, davout? Am I wrong?

I think there's at least one bank like this in Lithuania as well although I'm not sure which bank it is.

I'm pretty sure several banks in Malta will open accounts by mail for US persons. They accepted US account holders before 2008 anyway.

Some banks in Cyprus will open accounts for US persons by mail. You may need an introducing broker for this however. Google "open bank account in cyprus" and you'll get a bunch of these "introducing brokers" who will charge several hundred dollars to give you account application forms.

Also there are still one or two banks in Switzerland which open accounts for US persons, but I'm not sure which banks still do this. Some even by mail, I would bet. There are hundreds of banks there.

Liechtenstein has a handful of banks and I think most will open accounts for US persons. They probably will want you to visit the bank in person and probably sign a waiver about the IRS asking for information on your account.

There are quite a few banks in Jersey and Guernsey (the Channel Islands) that will open accounts by mail. This is true of the Isle of Man as well.

HSBC has a large network of branches in many SEPA countries. You can usually open an account at one of their foreign branches if you have a US HSBC account and go to your nearest US HSBC branch to get your documents certified for the foreign branch.
https://www.expat.hsbc.com/1/2/hsbc-expat/home#dropDown

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June 21, 2012, 04:05:46 PM
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Thanks Casha.  Those are some good links.  HSBC looks like the easiest and most direct option.
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June 24, 2012, 10:12:57 AM
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How about the other way round? Is there a way to open a bank account in the US for European citizens? Used to have one at Citizens Bank a few years back, but I was in the US at the time. Closed it again to avoid fees when going back. Love to do some arbitrage.

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June 25, 2012, 09:41:40 AM
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How about the other way round? Is there a way to open a bank account in the US for European citizens? Used to have one at Citizens Bank a few years back, but I was in the US at the time. Closed it again to avoid fees when going back. Love to do some arbitrage.
Apparently it is not possible to open an account these days without being resident.

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June 25, 2012, 03:22:26 PM
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How about the other way round? Is there a way to open a bank account in the US for European citizens? Used to have one at Citizens Bank a few years back, but I was in the US at the time. Closed it again to avoid fees when going back. Love to do some arbitrage.

Interested too, if anyone know a way please post here or PM me. I am only interested in legal or FUD ways though.
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June 25, 2012, 03:37:13 PM
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How about the other way round? Is there a way to open a bank account in the US for European citizens? Used to have one at Citizens Bank a few years back, but I was in the US at the time. Closed it again to avoid fees when going back. Love to do some arbitrage.
Apparently it is not possible to open an account these days without being resident.

Yep.  Know Your Customer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer) regulations require a physical address in the US.  You could probably manage it if you got a citizen to forward your mail for you, but if you were doing a lot of transactions and any flags were raised they (and their property if they own it) would be in the firing line.

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davout
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June 25, 2012, 09:10:57 PM
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Yep.  Know Your Customer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer) regulations require a physical address in the US.
Yes and physical identification.
Apparently it became much harder to open a bank account in the US after 9/11

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June 25, 2012, 10:18:04 PM
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Yep.  Know Your Customer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer) regulations require a physical address in the US.
Yes and physical identification.
Apparently it became much harder to open a bank account in the US after 9/11

This is just stupid. One world. One future.

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June 26, 2012, 12:51:35 AM
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Yep.  Know Your Customer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_your_customer) regulations require a physical address in the US.
Yes and physical identification.
Apparently it became much harder to open a bank account in the US after 9/11

This is just stupid. One world. One future.

Yep, it was part of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Act.  I've read it's mostly just an translation/adaptation of the Nazi constitution, but I don't know enough German to look into it.  Either way, it's a bunch of fear-based, freedom-eliminating, nonsensical, nationalistic bullshit.

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June 26, 2012, 01:42:07 AM
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That too can be done although it is difficult. KYC "regulations" do not require a physical address in the US. Most US banks do want a US shipping address to send your statements, checkbook, debit card and such to, which is easy enough to take care of. Most also will say that they require the foreign resident physically come to the bank to open the account. The most common answer you'll get is that it's not possible, but that is not true at all.

EverBank at least used to open accounts for foreign residents by mail, although they did want a lot of documents.

E*Trade Bank used to open foreign resident's accounts by mail without even notarization of your ID copy that you mail in. I think they stopped this account opening by mail for foreigners a few years ago, but it was the easiest way to get this done for several years before that.

Most of the biggest banks will open accounts for foreign residents too. Just visit their site and look around. The process may be not worth the trouble or cost, but it's very possible to do, especially if your initial deposit will be "substantial" and they understand the reasons that you want to open an account.

You do not need a Social Security Number to bank in the USA but having an SSN will almost guarantee that opening a bank account is an easy task. It's often treated as a well known fact that you must have a valid SSN or the bank cannot legally open an account for you, but in actual fact that it not true.

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June 26, 2012, 01:46:16 AM
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That too can be done although it is difficult. KYC "regulations" do not require a physical address in the US. Most US banks do want a US shipping address to send your statements, checkbook, debit card and such to, which is easy enough to take care of. Most also will say that they require the foreign resident physically come to the bank to open the account. The most common answer you'll get is that it's not possible, but that is not true at all.

EverBank at least used to open accounts for foreign residents by mail, although they did want a lot of documents.

Most of the biggest banks will open accounts for foreign residents too. Just visit their site and look around. The process may be not worth the trouble or cost, but it's very possible to do, especially if your initial deposit will be substantial and they understand the reasons that you want to open an account there.

You do not need a Social Security Number to bank in the USA but having an SSN will almost guarantee that opening a bank account is an easy task. It's often treated as a well known fact that you must have a valid SSN or the bank cannot legally open an account for you, but in actual fact that it not true.

Was this Everbank experience before 2001?  Since then things have changed drastically.

And in 2008 when I worked customer support for Bank of America, they taught us that it was a US government requirement to have a physical address.  Can you provide evidence or experience (more recent than 2001) that it's possible to open an account without a physical address?

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
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