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Today’s story is about this Euro savings account that we needed to open. This should be an easy task. But it is not!
Banking in Costa Rica is not as simple as it is in other countries.
Please do not see this blog as a complaint about Costa Rica banks and SUGEF. I am just trying to tell you real-life stories. That’s the only way for you to adjust to some of the weird ways of doing business in this beautiful country.
Things function generally differently here than you are used to in your home country.
Money laundering regulations in Costa Rica are created to keep a nice relationship between the US and Costa Rican governments. This makes it almost impossible to follow the rules when you open a bank account. And staying sane while doing it’s is even harder!
Obey and be served
Many of you know where I do my banking, so no need to advertise the name here… This blog is not about one Costa Rica bank; it is about the Costa Rica banking system. Since we all seem to launder money in the government’s opinion, we need to follow some rules. And those rules make banking an impossible task. They make you want to put your money under the mattress.
No matter how stupid the rules are, banking employees have to follow them, like it or not. And, you will have to obey their rules. This blog will make you aware of some of the stupidities you will encounter when opening an account, getting a mortgage, or any other banking diligence you have in mind. So, arm yourself with a lot of patience and get the task at hand done without screaming at anybody.
Here is the story:
Opening a savings account in Euros
I sold my Mercedes SUV and the buyer paid me in Euros. Since we travel to Europe once in a while, my wife Dany and I decided to open a savings account in Euros. We have several savings and checking accounts. Also, we have a credit card as well as a mortgage on the house. All of it with the same bank since they started operating in 1995. I have never banked anywhere else.
All accounts are in my wife’s name and I am the secondary signature. That’s because she does all the banking since we married. Note that Dany does all my office administration, as well as our home admin but is not on any payroll.
We need your financial information
It was relatively simple to complete all the necessary documents. But once the account was open and functional, the account manager sent Dany an email saying “I was requested to ask you for your financial information.” I have don Ivo’s financial information totally updated but yours is not.
I need a CPA or a letter from don Ivo, saying that all the funds that go into your account are from his income or revenue. But it could be a letter from don Ivo stating that he gives you the money. Now, bear in mind that this same bank has managed our whole financial life for the last 19 years.
I sent the account manager an email saying “Dania Bertarioni A. is my wife, she manages my finances and in exchange, I feed her three times a day, give her a roof over her head and I take her out for dinner once in a while”.
Apparently, this was not enough. But the account manager was nice enough to send me a draft of a letter that I just had to sign and return.
Closed it again
After a few months, Dany noticed that the bank deducted a few Euros. So our balance was slinking. It turned out that we needed to have monthly movement. If not, they’d charge us every month. Since we go to Europe maybe once every year or two years, the account was merely a place to put it. That’s, I guess, why they call it a savings account.
So again, back to square one. We have a safety deposit box in the same bank. But the rules say we are not allowed to keep cash money or firearms in the box.
So we’re back to the money under the mattress again. So much for a bank that takes care of its customers.
When it comes to banking in Costa Rica, we’ll have to put up with what in your mind is a stupid or abnormal request. The bank employees just follow orders from their boss, who in turn just follows the rules. It’s not their fault they have to put up with so much stupidity and red tape. I’m not sure this is a rule only in Costa Rica though.
If you think you can live with issues like opening a bank account and you still want to purchase Costa Rica real estate, contact me now!
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