- 1 How to Open Offshore Bank Accounts for US Citizens
- 2 Try to Open Online (Expat Account)
- 3 Open an Account at a US Branch and Then Transfer Overseas
- 4 Use a Foreign Residence as Your Address
- 5 Use a Foreign ID Card (Without Misrepresenting US Status)
- 6 Be Respectful to the Bank Personnel
- 7 Offshore Bank Accounts for US Citizens Are Hard but Not Impossible
- 8 Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm
How to Open Offshore Bank Accounts for US Citizens
Until the introduction of FATCA, opening a foreign bank account for US citizens was no big deal at all. In fact, the only real issue was whether to give the bank your information or opt for a numbered account and hope to avoid detection by the IRS. With the introduction and enactment of FATCA, more than 110 countries and over 300,000 foreign financial institutions have agreed to report US account holders to the United States. As a result of FATCA, it is becoming more and more difficult for a US citizen to walk into a foreign financial institution and open a bank account. For some US citizens, it is crucial that they have a foreign bank account in one or several countries — so how can they accomplish their goal of opening a foreign account?
Let’s review 5 simple tips that may assist you with opening a foreign bank account.
Try to Open Online (Expat Account)
Some foreign financial institutions allow customers to open bank accounts online, with what is generally referred to as an Expat Account. Sometimes, this is a relatively easier or more straightforward way to avoid the headache of walking into the bank and explaining that you are a US Citizen or former US Citizen. While certain paperwork may still be required showing your US Person status, if the foreign bank allows you to establish the account through their automated online system — it may make the process much easier.
Open an Account at a US Branch and Then Transfer Overseas
A shortcut to opening a foreign bank account can sometimes be going to a US branch of a foreign institution, opening up an account at the US branch first — and then either transferring the account overseas or trying to open an account overseas as a “current customer.” Depending on the institution, some US Citizens may be able to open a single account with multiple currencies which may achieve the ultimate goal.
Use a Foreign Residence as Your Address
Depending on which country you are in, once you have established residence in a foreign country (not technically establishing “permanent residence or citizenship,” but literally maintaining a physical address where you receive mail in a foreign country) — this may make it easier to open a foreign bank account in that country. Sometimes all that will be required is a copy of the lease or other agreement/contract.
Use a Foreign ID Card (Without Misrepresenting US Status)
If you are overseas and want to open a foreign bank account, you may consider obtaining a local residence card or Drivers License (or equivalent) first. This is because if you have a local ID Card, the Foreign Financial Institutions will recognize the card and be able to quickly process your foreign account. One very important item to keep in mind is even if you use a foreign ID card — if you are asked whether you are a US person (and you are one), then you do not want to misrepresent your status to the foreign financial institution because this could lead to FATCA and IRS headaches and much bigger problems down the line.
Be Respectful to the Bank Personnel
Sometimes when a US citizen walks into a foreign institution (depending on the country) and tries to open up a bank account, they are met with a bit of resistance from the local individual who may not be too fond of US citizens. Remember, you are in a foreign country and you are a guest of that country — so it is important that you are absolutely kind and respectful. As with anything in life, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar.
Offshore Bank Accounts for US Citizens Are Hard but Not Impossible
If you are required to open a foreign bank account — while it may seem somewhat difficult to do so, it is not impossible. We have summarized a few different options to assist you in case you are having any difficulty. Different countries and different institutions will of course have different policies and procedures, so keep that in mind — and always be respectful.
Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm
Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax and specifically, IRS offshore disclosure.
Contact our firm for assistance.