Learning Uruguay

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Opening a bank account – Part I

Posted by urufish on June 22, 2007

banco_real_preview-medium.jpg  For most banks in Uruguay, (with the exception of most local banks like the BROU), there is one set of rules for American residents and another for everyone else.  For instance, you can NOT, EVER open a bank account in most international banks here if you are a US citizen, resident or resident alien.  This isn’t an opinion or an observation.  Its the law, as set by the DGI. 

Most international banks in Uruguay shield all of their clients information with Uruguay’s bank secrecy laws.  These laws allow the banks to deny inquiries for any information about their clients with the exclusion of a criminal warrant, given by the courts where there is proof of criminal behaviour, (eg. money laundering or fraud).  Your information will not be released to a taxation agency like the IRS or CRA. When an international bank operates in a country where secrecy laws shield clients AND they elect to apply those laws to ALL clients, without exception, they sign an agreement with the IRS pledging to refuse to open accounts for anyone presenting a US passport or where their birth, citizenship or residency is listed on a different identity document, (eg. the back of the Cedula).  

Furthermore, ALL clients are required to sign a W8 or W9.  With the W8, you swear that you’re not any of the above, nor are you ‘fronting’ for someone who is, under pain of criminal prosecution for perjury.  If you are one of the above, you sign a W9, which authorizes the bank to notify the IRS you opened an account here and allows the IRS to query the bank for all pertinent information about your account any time in the future they decide you’re a person of interest to them.  

The process of opening an account in a foreign bank is not as simple as it is up north, but it’s not prohibitive.  You need your proof of identity, (passport or cedula) and references from your old bank (or a ‘good word’ from a current client) and 5 references in Uruguay.  (Dont be put off by that..  any one person in Uruguay can rustle up 4 other names for yo as a refernce).  Then you sign several forms (see below), and you should make a small deosit in CASH, but yes, you CAN deposit a cheque.  You may not want to do that, (see previous post), but yes, you can do it. 

Most international banks will let you setup accounts in major currencies.   I deal with the ABN Amro and highly recommend them.  I was directed to them by my friend.  He took me in and sliced through all the red tape in a few minutes.  30 years of banking experience can do that for you.  Next week I’m opening up an account by myself and we’ll see how well I do :).  

If you’re not fluent in Spanish, you must find a branch with a person fluent in English.  Banking is just too important to leave to chance.  The ABN in Pocitos on 21 de Setiembre is one.  The Discount bank has fluent, english staff in Ciuded Vieja.  My rep at ABN worked a few years in the Pacific North-West.  Her English is perfect and, just as important, she understands how we do things up North.  Whenever the bank’s policy here differs with what northerners are used to, she already knows its coming, explains why it’s different, explains it or apologizes for it.  

At the ABN, (I assume this is true of all international banks), you can have multiple currencies.  I keep 3 savings accounts; pesos, USD and CAD.  The reason for the CAD is to be able to deposit cheques from home, (like income tax refunds), without having to change the money to pesos or USD.

Chequing accounts are also avaialble.  The ABN wouldn’t give me one immediately, when I opened up the account.  They said we needed to ‘prove’ ourselves first.  After they see some account activity and how responsible we are as customers, after a number of months, we could apply for a checking account.  Keep in mind, we originally opened the account as tourists–not as residents.  This may have had an impact, but not necessarily.  Banks here are very somber IN THE BEGINING.  Once you’re a customer for a few months, you become family.   Then you can kiss your account rep when you greet them, (yes, we really do that). 

abn-application-form-front.jpg abn-application-form-back.jpg ABN application form

w8-large.jpg   w8-esp-large.jpg The ‘infamous’ W8 form in English and Spanish

The following is all the pertinent pages from the rule booklet that include all the rules of the bank.  I thought this was a booklet you get to keep as a reference.  You certainly can ask for a copy to keep, but the one they give you includes a section for you to sign at the back (see last page below) and the entire booklet is kept in your file, to prove you read and agreed to the rules.  Interesting eh? 

abn-rules1.jpg abn-rules3.jpg  abn-rules4.jpg abn-rules5.jpg abn-rules6.jpg abn-rules7.jpg abn-rules8.jpg abn-rules9.jpg abn-rules-10.jpg abn-rules-11.jpg abn-rules-12.jpg abn-rules-13.jpg abn-rules-14.jpg abn-rules-15.jpg abn-rules-16.jpg abn-rules-17.jpg abn-rules-18.jpg abn-rules-19.jpg

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43 Responses to “Opening a bank account – Part I”

  1. laurel said

    Why not open an account with BROU? It is simple, easy, and with excellent service. American passport – cedula or not – is good enough. Not many questions asked if at all beyond your address and telephone number.
    Good luck.

  2. urufish said

    When it came time to open a bank account, I asked my friend, an exec with Banco Comercial which bank he thought was best for someone from NA and he said, anything but BROU (and Banco Commercial). Compared to the foreign banks, the facilities and services are not at the same level. If you need additinal services like a mortgage, loan, or even want to buy CD’s, it’s not up to par, nor does it have the assets, of the internationals. At that time, all foreign banks had guaranteed fluency in English in at least one branch in Montevideo. Dont know what BROU’s official position is w.r.t. service in English.

    Anyway, it’s kind of a moot point if you only have a US passport or can’t say you’re not a resident of the US. You cant open an account anywhere else. BROU is the only game in town. Whereas if you’re a resident/citizen of any other country in the world, you have the choice of any bank in the country.

  3. Brazzie said

    Irv, opening an account in most baks (other than BROU) is not easy, even for people from other countries My brother (a Brazilian) could NOT open an account at HSBC, even though he had an account in excellent standing with the same bank in Brazil and had a lot of money to deposit. My brother in law, on the other hand, was able to open an account in that bank by providing proof he was a doctor, plus paycheck stubs and a few other docs.

  4. urufish said

    That’s because he picked the TOUGHEST bank in Uruguay. The HSBC sees itself as an ‘investment bank’. It’s interest is in investors. If you go in and plunk down $100K on a CD or TBill (probably not if your an american), they will smile and open an account for you.
    I went to the central with my lawyer. They took me upstairs to a gorgeous board room, served me tea on Royal Dalton, spoke impeccable english and literally looked down their nose on me when I told them my interest was in just opening an account. I didn’t pursue it mostly because of the attitude. Now, if I went there when I came to live here and used them as one of my investment houses, I’d have no problem.

    When I talk about foreign banks, I mean the big 3. The ones with lots of branches. Discount, ABN and ITAU (your hometown bank). From what I understand, most if not all of these are in Punta Del Este, the centro and barrios like Pocitos, Carrasco, New Pocitos, Malvin, Buceo, etc.

  5. urufish said

    Laurel, I dug into your question a little more this morning. Uruguay is not the USA or Canada or Britain, France, Australia, Germany, etc. The economies of the 2nd or 3rd world are not as stable and you have to get your head around the fact that there really is no guarantee of anything here.
    I’ve been here through 3 major crises. The last one touched the banking system. People here really were scared. Assets were frozen. Uruguay sits next to Argentina where it was even worse. I was at the airport in BA, the day they rioted in the parliament. I had a person come up to me and offer a thousand dollars for my ticket to Montevideo. I saw, with my own eyes, people carrying huge amounts of cash with them. Interestingly enough, they were going to guess where??? Uruguay. To do what? To PUT THE MONEY IN FOREIGN BANKS HERE. Draw your own conclusions.
    I would sum it up this way. If all you want to do is have an account so you can transfer money for living expenses, have an ATM card for daily life and get a local credit card and dont need a north american style web banking, BROU is just fine.

  6. juan del plata said

    Urufish said “references from your old bank and 2 or 3 people,” what kind of references from your old bank (in canada i presume) did you have?
    juan

  7. urufish said

    Honestly, I didn’t produce any references. I had the advantage of a friend with me who was a bank exec. He cut through the red tape for me.

    Tomorrow (couldnt go today..GOT TO PLAY GOLF FOR FIRST TIME SINCE I LEFT CANADA–yippee) I want to have a meeting with my bank rep. I asked her to write up a shopping list of exactly what is avaialble to us expats and exactly what they need from us.

  8. urufish said

    Finally got to sit with the ABN today and go over several issues.
    The first, under what circumstances can an American open an account with ABN. The answer – never. ABN is one of several international banks here in Uruguay that apply Uruguay’s bank secrecy laws to ALL accounts. Unlike some banks, (like BROU), they will not report client information to the IRS under any circumstances, nor can the IRS require them to do so. These banks signed agreements with the IRS that they will not open accounts for American citizens or residents, alien or otherwise. Some banks, like the BROU, allow clients to opt out of the secrecy laws. You sign a W9 form and your activity is reported to the IRS on a regular basis. I will modify the post (above) accordingly.

    Banks like the ABN will open an account for you on presentation of your cedula (as long as it doesn’t show the USA on the back) or a non US passport. You need to fill out the appropriate forms (see above), and you have an account.

  9. urufish said

    The answer to the question about references from your old bank is you dont need them. If you go there with an ABN account holder (like me) and we get a few people to say they know you (like hello, my name is ….), they will open an account for you. No problem. You just have to understand this is how the system works.

  10. Brazzie said

    Thanks for digging that information up. The piece about the deal between ABN-Amro and the IRS is golden!

    For those with dual nationality, like myself, it may actually be better to apply for permanent residency in Uruguay as a non-American. You will have greater flexibility. Who would have thunk. :-)

    About the references, I think you mean to say that you DO need them, but alternatively you can have other account holders vouch for you instead. Or did you mean to say that the referral system is the ONLY way to open an account?

  11. urufish said

    I am going to edit my comment where it says…

    —-Banks like the ABN will open an account for you on presentation of your cedula (as long as it doesn’t show the USA on the back) or a non US passport. You need to fill out the appropriate forms (see above), and you have an account—

    to avoid giving the impression that this means you’re Scott free. You still have to sign the W8 form, which would mean (in the words written on the W8 form), you are perjuring yourself if you’re a US citizen, resident or resident-alien, regardless which passport you apply with or what your Cedula shows as your citizenship.

    Most banks and investment houses throughout the world, require all applicants to sign a W8 if you say you hold no official status with the USA. If you do, you sign a W9 and your activity is now avaialble to Tio Sam.

    In this regard, I am glad I never applied for US residency. I wonder if that’s why emmigrants who were able to qualify for US residency chose Canada instead? You’d think Americans would have more freedom of choice than any other nationality in the world.

  12. Brazzie said

    Did you have to fill out and sign a W8?

  13. urufish said

    I edited the original post and added the W8 scan today. You can see where you sign that this is a pretty onerous document. Serious stuff.

  14. urufish said

    Yes, I filled out the W8 not just once, but twice… I’ll update the post with this information later..

    Every single client, and I believe this applies to Uruguayan citizens too, fill in a W8 as part of the account setup process.
    Stop and think about that one for a second… a country that is so powerful that their laws are enforced in soverign nations around the world – at the level of the average person using a bank.. Awesome… I said the IRS was stronger than all US armed forces combined… Wasn’t kidding eh?

    That isn’t all. When the W8 form changes, the bank’s policy is to notify all account holders to come in and sign the new form. I believe the last change was last year. I know because when I went to purchase Tbills earlier this year, they had me sign another W8. I thought it was a different division, but my rep says, no. That W8 was for all my dealings with them.

    Based on what my rep says, she believes this is required at all banks.. including the BROU… I believe it’s the W8 (or W9) that allows the BROU to open accounts for Americans. There is one other possibility. That because the BROU is a local bank, with no operations in the US, that it isn’t subject to pressure from the IRS, but somehow I doubt that Uruguay would ‘piss in the IRS’s cornflakes’ for fun. I’ll ask in the Southron forum if anyone remembers signing a W8 at the BROU.

  15. urufish said

    Forgot to expand on the ‘twice’. The ABN requires ALL clients to sign a new W8 whenever the US updates the form.
    My first W8 was in 2005. The W8 was revised in 2006. The first time I was in the bank usnig financial services after that, they asked me to sign the new version.

  16. Brazzie said

    I have a hard time believing that ALL Uruguayan banks would require all UY citizens to sign a form written in English that they would not have any idea what’s in it or what they are agreeing to.

    I don’t believe it!!!

  17. urufish said

    I didn’t post the Spanish version.
    I dont know if this is true of all banks in Uruguay…
    It should be true of all banks that operate in the US..
    Since BROU doesn’t have a division in the US, perhaps they dont require the form to be signed.
    I have to find that out next time I’m at a BROU.
    Hopefully early next week.

  18. urufish said

    OK.. I posted the Esp version.

  19. Brazzie said

    Thanks urufish for getting to the bottom of this.

    Many of us are very curious to see where the power of the IRS ends. :-)

  20. urufish said

    I think we all agree that for the time being, it’s restricted to planet earth and the internet.

  21. urufish said

    Good news for those holding non American passports EVEN if you are/were an American citizen or resident. You can open an account at the BROU on the non-American passport and they will NOT require you to sign any kind of declaration whatsoever (eg. W8 or W9). They do not want to see any of your US documents. They will not record your US status. They do not record your social security number.

    I hope to find out if the process changes if you open an account with a US passport. Also will ask whether BROU has any agreement whatsoever with the IRS to report any kind of information whatsoever to the IRS at all.

    There’s a very good chance because the BROU (and other local Uruguayan banks) does not operate outside Uruguay, they’re not subject to pressure from the IRS.

  22. Brazzie said

    Thanks Irv, great work! Hopefully over time, with the help of other expats, we can map out which banks require W8 from non-American passports and which ones don’t.

  23. juan del plata said

    want to stop the power of the IRS? suport ron paul for president – he wants to eliminate the IRS.
    juan

  24. urufish said

    I know life isn’t fair but if someone has actually moved here, lock stock and barrel. Has for all intents and purposes, left the USA, for real.. not as a tax evasion tool, the IRS should leave us alone.
    Canada’s IRS (The CRA), is reasonable in this regard. If you really have gone–taken your family to live somewhere else, have no principal residence left back home, do not regularly or frequently go back home, give up all (or most) of your connections (eg. club memberships, AAA account, etc) and liquidate your govt registered retirement savings plans, they will allow you to become a ‘non-resident’ for tax purposes. Let’s face it, you’re no longer benefiting from your tax contributions, so there’s no logical reason for taxing you.

  25. Shirley said

    One more datum: When I opened an account at BROU with my US passport, I was not required to sign a W8.

  26. rocco said

    Does anyone have an idea the turnaround time to bank wire/transfer money from a uruguay account to a business account in Canada?
    Is this a simple uncomplicated safe process, unlike in Buenos Aires where it is not illegal but nevertheless impossible.

  27. Hugo Ramos said

    We live in B.Columbia, Canada, and will move to Uruguay in about three years. My dilemma is how and where can we open an account in Montevideo that allows us to withdraw our Pension from Canada, wich will be deposit automatically in my, Bank of Montreal account here. I know that there are no Uruguayan banks in any other parts of North America and also there are no Canadian Banks in Uruguay.
    Or is it possible to transfer funds between two different Banks and two different accounts Via Internet. We are Canadian Citizens and also Uruguayans by birth . Revenue Canada tells us that non-residents pay a 15% flat rate for Income Tax, wich wil be taken off before it goes out of the Country. Do you know anything about this.It will help us a great deal any information that you have, and perhaps when in Uruguay we can meet. A pleasure, yours truly, Hugo. P.D. :We moved to Toronto in 1969, almost 40 years ago.Can an account be open in Canadian funds.

  28. Anonymous said

    Buenos dias Hugo…
    If you plan to live in Montevideo or Maldonado/PDE, I recommend you open an account with ABM or Santander next time you’re here. You can open the accounts on either your Uruguayan or Canadian passports. There is no difference.

    Before you leave Canada, arrange with your bank to let you transfer money from your account to other banks by fax. When you want to transfer funds from BC to Uruguay when you’re here, you just send a fax to your bank with the proper instructions to have the funds transferred directly into your account here. I strongly recommend you convert the funds to US at BMO. I do it this way and it works just fine.

    You will not be a non-resident unless you formally apply to CRA and are granted that status. Until you do that, you will pay your taxes like any other Canadian. At the end of the year, you will file income tax and pay what you owe or you can simply pay without filing. What I do is go to my bank’s website – TD. I go to the section where you add ‘bills’ to pay. You can add CRA (for each year you have to open a new payee). For instance, this coming year, I will add CRA 2008 and transfer funds from my savings account to CRA for the money I calculate I owe them. I do not go to Canada to do this.

    If you apply to CRA to be granted non resident status and you meet all their requirements, then yes, income tax will be withdrawn at source – PROVIDING YOU ADVISE CPP IN ADVANCE. You will have to sign a form that states you are a non-resident.

    If you’re asking if an account can be opened in Canadian funds down here in Uruguay, the answer is yes, but not all banks do it. I know ABM does. That’s why we’re with them. HOWEVER, I suggest you avoid using it whenever possible. If you were to transfer your pension here in CAD, you will find the conversion costs are much higher than they are at a Canadian bank and perhaps, more importantly, you have to wait about 6 weeks for the funds to clear. I’ve only used my Canadian account once. I had to deposit an income tax refund cheque. Believe it or not, it was drawn on the bank of Canada and it too took 6 weeks to clear. I haven’t used the account since.

    When you know when you’re coming down, let us know and for sure we’ll get together. My wife is Uruguaya as is my daughter. I’m the canuck gringo.

  29. Patrick said

    I am from the US. I want to open an ewallet account with a german company that requires direct transfers from bank acounts (no western union), due to german anti money laundering regulations. Also, because of this company does business with online gambling operations, which are illegal in the US, they do not accept transfers from US accounts.

    I recently moved to Argentina and opened an accout, but was told I could not wire the money until i had my account for months. if i go to Uruguay, can I open an account and wire money directly to the german account?

  30. Dirk said

    I just opened a savings account at the Banco Republica Oriental de Uruguay (BROU). I provided both a US passport and an Argentine DNI as the necessary identity documents. No proof of address i.e. utility bill necessary. The only annoying issue is that for deposits of $10,000+ USD they want proof of the origins of the funds. As such, they only allowed me to deposit $9900 USD in cash to open the account. They also asked questions as to what they purpose of the account is and to what countries I will be sending/receiving wires.

  31. Eric said

    Hello!

    Can someone direct me to a bank in Uruguay that will allow me to deposit cash (30,000US), and wire back home to Canada (TD Bank) on the same day or week? I cannot physcially bring this back with me to Canada, as it was a cash gift from my Fiancee’s dad in Brasil, and have no way to prove where the money came from other than a bank account statement from a bank here in Brasil.

  32. urufish said

    If you’ve got a Canadian passport, you can open an account at most banks in Uruguay. Only Americans face discrimination because of IRS reporting rules that contradict Uruguay’s banking privacy laws.
    I was with TD when we opened a bank account here with ABN which is now Santander.
    The process took a couple of days but I needed to show them a letter from TD (I got them to fax it to me % of the bank same day) and I needed a couple of references from local Uruguayans. We have family here so that was no problem. After that, transfers from TD to here took 1-2 hours. Transfers up to TD take 1-2 days. I didn’t need to show proof of the origin of the funds because they were always wired down here from the bank. They do require a verbal explanation for their records. Remember, it’s not personal. These rules were put in place to prevent money laundering, primarily from the drug trade.

    Other banks here will not be as hard on you to open an account. Your first choice is to try the BROU. The national bank. All banks can transfer funds to the TD. Some will take longer than others. No bank will be interested in your business if it’s just to transfer money.

    If you just want to deposit a cheque and wire it back home to TD, you have several options.
    First, is to take the cheque to TD and deposit it there. Over the years, I’ve deposited cheques with TD from all the world. No problem. Just may take 2-6 weeks to clear depending on where it’s from. It’s drawn on a Brazilian bank, it shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks max. Since you’re transferring the funds to a TD account, you’re obviously not looking to conceal the ‘gift’. BTW, a non certified cheque does not have to be reported when you enter Canada. It’s not considered a monetary instrument like cash, stocks or bonds.
    If you’ve got your heart set on depositing it here and transferring it up north, your best bet is a cambio. They do this all the time. They will charge for the service.. probably in the neighbourhood of $100 to $200 dollars.

    If you want more detailed information about the cambio option, reply to this post with your email address and we’ll discuss this offline.

  33. Ricardo said

    Hi Mr. Urufish.

    What a great job you did about the banks in Uruguay. Thank you very much for such information.

    So, since you have experience with most banks in Uruguay, here comes my question to you:

    I’m from Brazil and I’m planning to open a checking account (cuenta corriente) with BROU
    because I trade forex for a living but here in Brazil unfortunately the banks are very
    outdated about this market (they simply don’t know nothing about it, so when I wan to receive or send an international transfer is a true nightmare). Is BROU a good bank in order to send ans receive international money transfers ? Can I do the procedures through BROU’s online banking ? What are the documents needed to open an account with them ?

    I hope hearing from you soon and sorry about all the questions.

    Best Regards to you,
    Ricardo.

  34. urufish said

    I dont know about BROU. I have a corporate account there but I try to have as little to do with them as possible. For everything else, I use Santander. I see nothing on the website that I access that could be used to transfer funds. When I transfer funds, I have to go and sign a document. I’ve never tried signing by fax here.
    I also use Forex.com but I dont trade for a living. I’m an opportunist.
    What I did was establish a several credit cards with limits sufficient to transfer funds quickly if necessary.
    Forex has a USD5K cap limit per credit card transaction. They take between 5 and 20 minutes to process.
    If you have 4 cards, with USD20K limits, you have the ability to move USD80K within 30 minutes.
    If your needs are greater, you get higher limits on your credit cards.
    I’m personaly unaware of any banks that will move this quickly for me although I must say I’ve never tried.
    If you dont mind it taking 30-60 minutes, you could set up an account with one of the offshore banking instittions here in Montevideo. There are many to choose from. You simply place funds in these institutions and set up instructions to transfer funds on your phone call, with proper identification of course.
    If you set up the details for Forex in advanc, the transfers shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes from the time you call your bank contact.
    I find that between credit card transfers and leaving a sufficient amount of capital on hand with Forex, my personal needs are met.
    I hope this helps.

  35. Jason said

    Hi to you guys on here.

    Im from the UK, I have businesses in Eastern europe and we are looking to move investment capital from Europe to South America as we want to open land and real estate business down there and want to use Uruguay as the starting point. How easy is it to 1. open personal accounts there and 2. Corporate accounts.

    I see a few comments about needing a Uruguayan as a personal reference, if we set up a company then would the lawyer be good enough.

    Your thoughts will be more than helpful.

    Thanks

  36. urufish said

    If you’re talking about millions, not thousands and you want to do it right, contact: http://www.capitalconservator.com/. If they aren’t the right fit for your needs, they’ll tell you who to contact here. If you want to go directly to the best lawyer for this kind of thing, contact Juan Fischer at http://www.fs.com.uy. There is no one better in Uruguay. I have personaly never used him, but I’ve represented people that have. Setting things up here can be complicated and I’ve seen many people go down the wrong road. He doesn’t make mistakes.
    Lastly, if you go corporate and want a straight, smart and well connected accountant, contact Manuel Chadicov throgh ksi.org. He has his own practice but he also represents KS International. He doesn’t make mistakes either.
    None of these contacts are overly expensive. Compared to what I was used to paying up north, there’s no comparison.

    To answer your questions specifically, on a British passport, you can open an account anywhere here with a letter of reference from your current bank. The business with references is pretty easy. You already have one :) If you work through any of the above contacts, they’ll look after that for you. Opening a corporate account requires the creation of a corporation. You realy need to speak with Manuel about that. Since your business is investing, you need to weigh the advantages of setting your corporation up as a Uruguay company or an offshore company. We have hundreds of investment companies in the freezone down here. Point your browser at http://www.zoneamerica.com. Every major world broker is there. Plus dozens of small investment firms.

    Hope this helps..

  37. diosney said

    Hi there!

    First, congrats for the amazing post that you have been created, Urufish :D, it illuminated me some things about Uruguay banking system (in the next days I will travel to Montevideo and I would like to open a bank account, so this is critical information).

    I saw references to the Santander (ABN Amro) and BROU banks, but any of you have experiences with the BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) bank?

    Have you ever had trouble to withdraw money in another country with the Visa debit and credit cards expended by the banks? The thing is that I often travel to Cuba (tourist trips most time :D) and they said that not all Visa cards works in the ATM network from there.

    Thanks in advance for all help you can give me.

  38. urufish said

    Uruguay has changed a lot since this post was written. Someone told me you now need to show proof of address to open an account at the BROU. The BROU is the most liberal of all banks here when it comes to opening an account.
    Now that Uruguay has broken it’s 80+ year tradition of baking privacy, we expect to see a lot more changes in the banking system.
    The most likely ATM card to work in Cuba would be BROU’s. Uruguay has had a very long, close relationship with Cuba.

  39. Emjay said

    Thank you so much for all of this information. I am subscribing to your site. I am from the Netherlands and planning on moving to Uruguay in 3 years. So still have a lot of planning to do. Hope to establish a circle of friends to get to know. But I do have a question..what do you consider ‘not overly expensive’ regarding the contacts you have mentioned? I am also looking into starting an offshore business.

  40. urufish said

    Hello Emjay…
    I regret that I haven’t had the time to keep the blog going or update a lot of the older info. Lots of it is still relevant but Uruguay has undergone a big change in the past 5 years. Prices for services like Juan and Manuel are probably up 50%, like most things here, since 2006.
    My advice is to email them and ask them for prices. Juan opened his own practice. He has some very wealthy clients now.. but I know he does still do work for the expat community.
    The exemption for software developers is still in place so if you develop software and sell it abroad, you pay no income tax. When I came here, there was no such thing but that’s changed too.
    One of these days I should do a page on the new taxes as it applies to expats. We are classified differntly than Uruguayan citizens.

  41. Robert OHara said

    Hi, Iam a US citizen BUT reside full time here in Rep of Panama with a cedula…and seriously considering a move to Uruguay. I plan a visit in Oct/Nov 2011 and would like to open a bank checking account at that time for USD, Uy$ and euros. Which bank(s) do you recommend for ease of opening and least intrusive as to the information I would need to provide. I could also at that time apply for residency from info gathered on the net…from above post I now understand that I would require an address to open an account…would a rental property suffice as a residence? Appreciate and and all comments…Bob OH

  42. urufish said

    As mentioned above, because of IRS’s stringent reporting requirements and resulting fines for non-compliance, many European banks wont open accounts for Americans in Uruguay. The core issue is the apparent conflict between what the IRS requires and Uruguay’s banking privacy laws. There is opportunity for making mistakes which results in either the government fining the bank or the USG fining the bank. So it’s simpler for some of them to politely refuse anyone who is obligated to report income to the IRS.
    ABM was one of them. Santander is another. There are others but I don’t keep a current list.
    The banks that do accept Americans have changed their requirements in the past 5 years and each of them will be different. The bank that most Americans choose in Uruguay is the BROU, the national bank. The last thing I heard was that they will open an account with your passport as the only document needed but you also need a local address. Unlike the US, you wont find mailing services every few blocks. You’ll need to ask someone to accept mail for you. With several thousand US expats living in Uruguay already, that shouldn’t be too hard.
    When you get here, the best approach would be to go downtown or Pocitos and walk into the banks that you have heard of (and have confidence in) and interview them.
    Another option is to go the investment bank route in Uruguay (virtual Uruguay). Go to zoneamerica.com and look up investment services/banks there.

  43. J.P.Mack said

    I am a military retire and receive military retired pay plus a disability check plus Social Security Income. Currently i have direct deposit to my checking account here in the U.S.. How do I – can I do direct deposit to a Uruguay Bank if i become a resident of the country?

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