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Author Topic: Do any banks offer SEPA-depositable accounts to US citizens?  (Read 7680 times)
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June 26, 2012, 01:48:30 AM
 #21

It was 2008 when I checked into it. What you get told about "the law" very well might just be bank policy weather the banker knows this or not. Usually they don't. They only know what they've been told.

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June 26, 2012, 02:03:54 AM
 #22

It was 2008 when I checked into it. What you get told about "the law" is usually just a bank policy weather the banker knows this or not. Usually they don't. They only know what they've been told.

There may be a way around the physical address restriction, but if they are giving up potential customers that tells me the workaround is sufficiently troublesome as to make it de facto the law.  

What I found in the US Code(http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/5318A) was this regarding the required records for all transactions:

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(B) Form of records and reports.— Such records and reports shall be made and retained at such time, in such manner, and for such period of time, as the Secretary shall determine, and shall include such information as the Secretary may determine, including—
(i) the identity and address of the participants in a transaction or relationship, including the identity of the originator of any funds transfer;
(ii) the legal capacity in which a participant in any transaction is acting;
(iii) the identity of the beneficial owner of the funds involved in any transaction, in accordance with such procedures as the Secretary determines to be reasonable and practicable to obtain and retain the information; and
(iv) a description of any transaction.

(i) does not specify the specifics of what constitutes and address record, but it is probably specified somewhere.  I'm just too lazy to find it.  It's also possible that this is left up the the Secretary of the Treasury, as the identity requirements are.

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June 26, 2012, 10:36:28 AM
 #23

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

Being a US citizen or not is not such a big problem.

Please tell is it possible for you to come to Europe physically to open the account or not?

If you can come physically to Europe, I can recommend you lots of options, depending on other priorities for you.

If you don't want to come physically to Europe, that's a completely different story, and your options will be VERY limited, if any.

You just need to come to Europe once, for about half an hour in the bank branch, that's it. Of course not every bank will open an account, and not every account will be the best idea to manage fully remotely without an easy way to come to Europe to fix things, but there are lots of options if you can come at least once.

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June 26, 2012, 02:44:35 PM
 #24

You just need to come to Europe once, for about half an hour in the bank branch, that's it. Of course not every bank will open an account, and not every account will be the best idea to manage fully remotely without an easy way to come to Europe to fix things, but there are lots of options if you can come at least once.

I was planning to visit Neitherlands... What would you recommend there?

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June 26, 2012, 03:00:01 PM
 #25

I was planning to visit Neitherlands... What would you recommend there?

Well, that's not the best country for non-resident accounts.

You should go more to the east.

Poland: http://www.aliorbank.pl/en
Estonia: http://www.lhv.ee/en/banking_services/

and generally the "new" EU countries (which entered EU in 2004 or later) seem to have more non-resident friendly approach, with a lot of polish and Estonian ones quite good. The two above I'd try first.

Besides that Austria might work. 

In Belgium http://www.montepaschi.be/ was quite hassle-free also. That's the closest to Netherlands that I can recommend for non-EU residents.


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July 02, 2012, 04:39:40 AM
 #26

Please tell is it possible for you to come to Europe physically to open the account or not?

It is possible, but my experience is that if you do this once they think it's reasonable to ask you do to it in the future.

I can't afford to have my account frozen and be told that I must fly to Europe to unfreeze it.  If I've never been there physically it is totally unreasonable for them to say "you must come here physically to get your account unfrozen" -- a stunt like that would wind up in the press and be enough of a black eye for the bank that they wouldn't do it.


and not every account will be the best idea to manage fully remotely without an easy way to come to Europe to fix things

Yeah, that is an absolute non-starter.  Exactly the sort of BS I was talking about above.

What you're talking about isn't me coming to Europe to open the account -- it's me giving the false impression that I'm willing to fly out there when there is some sort of need to "fix things".  I am not willing to do that.

BTW, just to reiterate, I don't want a "European bank account".  I want a SEPA-enabled bank account.  So I don't think me not flying to Europe is unreasonable.

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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July 02, 2012, 05:38:31 AM
 #27

You can open non local accounts via your local HSBC branch, it might cost a fair bit in fees to do it like that but it's cheaper than flying to Europe.
Bank of East Asia offer the same kind of service if you're in San Francisco or New York.

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July 02, 2012, 06:32:03 AM
 #28


Many foreign banks are closing their doors to U.S. persons (citizens and residents) living in anywhere in the world.

HSBC halts offshore service to US citizens, regulators flex muscles

http://www.vrl-financial-news.com/wealth-management/private-banker-intl/issues/pbi-2011/pbi-275/hsbc-halts-offshore-service-to.aspx

Ummm that's wealth management services not simple accounts.

However it does generally look like you're screwed if you're a US citizen trying to hold wealth outside the country.

Maybe time to hit up Costa Rica or Belize for one of their nice cheap citizenships?

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July 02, 2012, 05:38:33 PM
 #29

I can't afford to have my account frozen and be told that I must fly to Europe to unfreeze it.

I may find you some options, but nothing will give you a guarantee that there will never be an issue that the bank will require a personal visit to solve it. Even if you open it without visiting the branch, and it works for some time, law and/or bank policies may change and at some point they may say "we are sorry, but we need you to come to our branch and sign this paper in the presence of our employee to continue banking with us". This will never be a completely unreasonable requirement, and because hardly anyone ever has a account in Europe without being here physically, if a bank places such requirement it won't give bad publicity, because you'll probably be the only customer of the bank for whom it is a problem. Even if at some point they decide to stop servicing you, it won't be completely unreasonable for them to say: "Sorry, because of legal changes we cant continue servicing you, you are welcome to come in to any of our branches to pick-up your balance in cash". Cash in branch is a most legitimate form of refund, and nobody will see it badly here if a bank does this to someone.

You can try something from http://www.offshore.barclays.com/ but even if it works, it'll probably require very high balances and be very expensive.
I think even non-EU offshore Barlcays accounts have SEPA-accessible numbers.

If you don't want to risk flying nor the Barclays offshore would work for you, nor HSBC accepts you, then you'd be better-off partnering with me, and when you have someone who wants to pay with SEPA, you contact me, I accept the SEPA, convert to USD and send a USD wire to you, and in exchange you do the same for me - when someone wants to pay with US bank transfer I can't accept, I can ask you for the same thing in the opposite way, with the difference that I will want a USD wire to my account in Poland.


If you want your own account, there is a bank http://www.sync.pl/ in Poland that would not require ever visiting the branch, as they service customers in Poland that way too, they have virtual branches with video link, and don't service anyone in physical branches, you can be a foreigner and have a foreign address, but:

1) you first need to have an account at any other bank in Poland and make a transfer from it to verify your address - and to open that you'd need to come here
2) you'd need a polish ID number PESEL, which you can get as a foreigner if you even temporarily live in Poland even for a short time.

Getting a PESEL number requires a temporary residence permit in Poland probably.

Your Sync account will not be tied to the address you get your residence permit in Poland for, and you can use your US address together with the polish PESEL number in Sync without problems.

So come to Poland for three months, get a PESEL number, open one bank account at any polish bank, then open a http://www.sync.pl/ account, make a transfer from your first account to Sync to verify it, and then you can fly away back. Its a nice country. That way your visit will only be for the first bank account, which you will later close, and you will never have visited the Sync Bank which you will keep, so they will never be able to make the assumption that you can come to a branch to fix things. They don't service anyone in branches anyway.

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July 02, 2012, 07:42:42 PM
 #30


So come to Poland for three months

Cos mi sie wydaje, ze malo komu by sie chcialo poswiecac 3 miesiace czasu, tylko dla konta bankowego w Polsce ; )

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