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Copyright 2012 by John T. Reed
I am in the process of setting up foreign accounts and am providing feedback of my experience so far. If you have received enough of this sort of thing from your readers please disregard. Thanks again for providing information via your web site on setting up these accounts as it has been invaluable to me.
I was flying into Seattle on vacation so I decided to take the time to drive up and back to Canada while in the area. It was a easy drive. We opened our account at the Whiterock branch of RBC which is about 15 minutes across the border. No trouble crossing, told them the truth for the reason of the visit. The branch office was small but had about eight or so private bankers on site each in a private office. I had made an appointment in advance which was a must because the branch was crowded. The banker we met with was very experienced with what we wanted to do and indicated that each private banker was doing about two of these account set ups per week for US citizens. Some of them in the seven figure range. The account set up took about two hours. I have not tried depositing or withdrawing any funds yet but did receive my ATM cards and checks in the mail about four weeks after setting up the account. Our timing was poor on the exchange rate as we have lost about 5%. I still feel it was the correct decision. I agree with you in that why are people running to the dollar for safety? It makes no sense.
I have found a bank that will accept the funds to open an account via the certified verification of identification as you mentioned. This particular bank will not issue me an ATM card or checks unless I appear in person at a branch in Australia. The only way funds can be withdrawn until I appear in person is by wire transfer back into a US account. I am OK with this as I do not plan on transacting in or out of the funds too much. I was unable to find a bank that did not have this restriction.
I have found a bank that will accept my funds via remote application subject to similar document verification as the Australian account. That being said, they will not let me withdraw any funds until I appear in person in NZ with the original copies of the ID docs. In calling around to other banks in NZ all of them indicated that it is a government requirement to appear in person to open the account in any bank in NZ. I have not moved forward with this account just yet as I am going to call around to a few more banks and if that does not yield results consider taking a trip to NZ. If you know the name of a bank that does not have this description it would be helpful to know but I understand if you do not want to disclose it. [Reed note: I asked my Australian banker if they wanted me to name them. No answer. I have not asked the NZ banker, but after the Australia non-response, I am afraid to.]
John T. Reed