It’s commonly known that Americans face banking challenges while living abroad. Foreign banks like to avoid taking on US citizens as customers, even if these customers are also citizens of the host country, and American banks have closed accounts and limited access when customers go abroad. Banks have to disclose to the IRS information on their US customers which create a special legal hassle and they must comply with the Patriot Act and Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)^1. These rules were put into place largely to fight money laundering of enormous sums, however, it unmistakably punishes the average American who just wants to manage their finances while overseas. As a result, many expats are forced to lie about their tax-residency and citizenship status, subjecting them to enormous risk.
Everyone abroad is in need of checking accounts that can help them manage their local currency and US dollar denominated assets. Multi-currency checking accounts are in the development stages, however, it is possible to have multi-currency cash accounts with debit/ATM features through Transferwise and Interactive Brokers*.
If you’re only looking for a US solution that covers your banking needs, from checking and savings to lending, then consider the United Nations Federal Credit Union or State Department Federal Credit Union. You must be a member of an organization partnered with the bank. You can apply to become a member with the United Nations Association of the USA or join the American Citizens Abroad.
Using these banks will keep you compliant with the IRS as they are not subject to FATCA and will give you access to banking features not otherwise found anywhere else while you’re abroad.
United Nations Federal Credit Union
Must be a member of United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA‑USA) (link); $25/year
State Department Federal Credit Union
Must be a member of American Citizens Abroad (link); $55/year. Or, you can be a client of Clements Intl., or a member of one of the other organizations here.
*At Eureka Wealth Management, I partner with Interactive Brokers which allows my expat clients to have multi-currencies in a single account with ATM access. I provide financial planning which helps resolve some of the complexity around managing money while overseas and I manage clients’ investments that’s not subject to FATCA significantly reducing tax complexity. Call us at +1 (760) 537-0791 or online at eurekawealthmanagement.com/expats.