Do not bank with Santander Río!


Hello fellow expats! I'm writing to share a bad experience I had trying to open a bank account today with Santander Río. This bank refused to open an account for me, despite the fact that I have a residencia precaria (my residencia permanente is in process), a US passport, a CUIT, and a certification of my residence (certificado de domicilio) that was issued by the local police station (comisaria) in my neighborhood. Also, I am married to an Argentine, working here in Buenos Aires, and completing my master's degree here at UBA. At inmigraciones a few weeks ago, they explained that I could open a bank account (which is why they authorized RENAPER to issue me a CUIT [for those that do not know, a CUIT is like a social security number]).

Santander Río said they would only open an account for me if I had my DNI (which should take somewhere between another 3-7 months to receive, based on the time it has taken others to receive theirs that have shared their experiences on this site).

After my bad experience at Santander Río, I called Galicia (another major bank here) and they said they would be glad to open account for me with my residencia precaria, US passport, CUIT, and cerificado de domincilio (in lieu of the certidficado, they would also accept a utility bill). I will post on this site again once I have opened the account to share my experience with Galicia - let's hope it's a good one!

I am sharing my bad experience with Santander Río because I wholeheartedly hope that other Americans living in Argentina will avoid banking with them. There are too many social and economic problems to list here that banks like Santander Río only help perpetuate (informality [many of those who live in city's villas (slums) keep their money under a mattress] black-market employment, assimilation, integration, etc, etc. etc.) with discriminatory policies similar to the one I experienced today - not to mention the daily inconvenience of living in a country as a foreigner without the ability to open a bank account!


Santander took over Citibank here. I'd had an account with Citi for over twenty years. When the US enacted FACTA, Citi tried to close my account. I had a huge battle with them but finally they allowed me to maintain the account. Then recently Santander closed my account citing another reason but I am sure it was FACTA, the US law that makes it very hard for banks outside the US to accept US citizens as clients. That may have been the problem you faced - they just do NOT want US citizens as clients because of all the complications FACTA creates for them.


Before you go around blaming someone, keep in mind their obligations. Here's interesting information:

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is an important development in U.S. efforts to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons holding accounts and other financial assets offshore. The Treasury Department and the IRS continue to develop guidance concerning FATCA. For current and more in-depth information, please visit FATCA.

Under FATCA, certain U.S. taxpayers holding financial assets outside the United States must report those assets to the IRS on Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets. There are serious penalties for not reporting these financial assets (as described below). This FATCA requirement is in addition to the long-standing requirement to report foreign financial accounts on FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) (formerly TD F 90-22.1).

FATCA will also require certain foreign financial institutions to report directly to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The reporting institutions will include not only banks, but also other financial institutions, such as investment entities, brokers, and certain insurance companies. Some non-financial foreign entities will also have to report certain of their U.S. owners.

Therefore, if you set up a new account with a foreign financial institution, it may ask you for information about your citizenship. FATCA provides special (and lessened) reporting requirements about the U.S. account holders of certain financial institutions that do not solicit business outside their country of organization and that mainly service account holders resident within it. In order to qualify for this favorable treatment, however, the local foreign financial institution cannot discriminate by declining to open or maintain accounts for U.S. citizens who reside in the country where it is organized.

Also, before you add more negative press to the poor bank, are you aware of the Patriot Act? It ain't that easy either to open an account in the US. If you look like, act like, or smell like a terrorist or drug dealer, the Patriot Act is a pain in the butt. And if your address is a PO Box, good luck trying to open an account.


Did you know that JP Morgan is closing up all accounts held by Argentine? Don't blame the player...


... Citi tried to close my account. I had a huge battle with them but finally they allowed me to maintain the account.
Two questions:

1. How did you win the huge battle with Citi so they let you maintain your account?

2. For a dual citizen (US + Argentina), is it still possible to be denied opening a bank account because one is also a US citizen?