Passing on Information Regarding ATM’s and International Wire Transfers

ATM’s in Panama

Atm’s are the way lots of expats get money here to live on from bank accounts they have in the states and Canada. Some banks charge transaction fees per withdrawal and others do not. For those who do not have any accounts in Panama, the latest ATM problems were a big problem.

Clave runs the ATM’s in Panama. Evidently last week the ATM’s did not work for withdrawals for several days. This has lead me to say a few things.

1. You should always have extra cash on hand for emergencies, if the only way you have access to cash is through an ATM

2. Open a local account at a bank here and transfer some money in from your home bank. Yes, the paperwork can be tedious but it will allow you to have access to money when your ATM is down. Also ATM’s do not allow you to withdraw large sums of money. If for example you had a medical emergency, how would you pay. Credit card?

These are things you should decide before moving, so you can easily have plans in place. While you can’t open a Panama account without being here, you can do it on a visit. Every bank is different in its requirements, however most will ask for 2 personal references within Panama, 2 bank reference letters from banks, copy of some kind of utility bill with your address on it, and copy of passport.

International Wire Transfers

From personal experience, I found that even some of the biggest and most well known banks in the states do not do enough wire transfers internationally to even know how it is done, let alone how much they charge, or what the intermediary bank is that they use. That being said, international wire transfers are more well known in Panama than in the US.

Because of the FACTA concerns of the new rules for banks and international wire transfers, many expats here are being told by their banks in the states that they will no longer even do wire transfers internationally. This again can be very problematic for people here who are using only that method for getting money.

As things with the new laws regarding FACTA emerge, no one can guess what is going to happen and what it will effect in the end. Will the 30% holding for the IRS include ATM withdraws?, checks drawn on accounts in the US and cashed here in banks?. So once again you need to have in place several ways to be able to access your money, not just one. And more importantly you must continue to keep up with the latest developments and be able to change how you receive your money.

As a side note, it is interesting to me in reading some of the forums here, that people are constantly unaware and taken by surprise at the changes that happen. I am referring to everything from immigration changes to IRS changes to new border regulations. I get the feeling that once people come here they believe they don’t have to keep up on things. WRONG. Just because you live in paradise, does not mean the you are isolated from the world outside. It will effect you. Therefore it is imperative you keep up on the news, so you can see problems ahead and resolve those issues.

I will try and address FACTA in my next post. And thank you to those of you who took my poll, I will try and put something together on David and gather some pictures as well.

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