This is not the first time Costa Rica has required that expats and citizens update their information with the bank. However, this update seems to correspond with new requirements put out by the US regarding citizens living abroad.
In an effort to extend the arms of the IRS, FACTA has made it possible for the US to require Costa Rican banks to provide them with account information for US citizen customers. Costa Rica banks have warned expats for months that if they do not update their banking information by December 31st, 2013 their accounts may be closed. They have not, however, provided much insight as to what information is needed. Many expats have put off going to the bank, since they are not sure what documents to obtain, and since Costa Rica, oftentimes, threatens new bureaucracy with little to no followthrough. Expats, listen up, it’s different with banking.
Vicki Skinner updated her information with the Banco Nacional Friday, December 27th. She said that she wasn’t going to miss another deadline because in the past she had an account closed when she failed to comply with updates. That mistake cost her time and money. Vicki shared that it usually costs her anywhere from $40-$75 for a certified letter from a CPA to verify where her money is coming from (If it’s not a simple source, such as a social security pension).
Every bank and teller may enforce this mandated information update differently, but Vicki shared her experience. She talked to the bank manager to understand the process the best she could. She said, because she had less than $1,000 in all of her accounts monthly she did not need to furnish a letter from a CPA verifying where the assets came in from. Instead, all she needed to bring with her was her current passport, and her last six monthly bank statements. After her bank teller reviewed her documents, he asked her where her income was coming from, and made notes in her account after hearing her verbal response. He also asked for her current email address and phone number. That was it for Vicki! If she had more than $1,000 across her accounts per month, she would have been required to bring proof of where the income was originally derived. If it’s clear cut, like a pension, or annuity and the accounts are held in the name of the expat, not a corporation, you should not need a letter from a CPA. Simply provide proof of your pensions. If your accounts are in the name of a corporation then a certified letter from a CPA will be needed.
To read more about US Taxes for American Expats click here. To learn how to earn a living in Costa Rica, ship containers and cars, choose the best international bank, education options in CR, healthcare options, what to pack and what to sell, and more read, Becoming an Expat: Costa Rica.