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Transferring money to Europe
Old 11-25-2021, 10:53 PM   #1
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Transferring money to Europe

I have citizenship in Europe as well as USA. I would like to retire to Europe. I'm not sure if I want to leave my money in the USA. I guess to do this I would have to setup a mail forwarding service?

Ultimately, I'd like to move my money to Europe without getting killed in conversion fees since I'm looking at 7 figures. Anyone have any suggestions on the best way to transfer the money? Banks I'd probably get clobbered so I'm looking at Transferwise/wise.
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Old 11-26-2021, 09:11 AM   #2
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I'm not sure why you would need to transfer anything, but then I've never lived outside the US. Do banks only have branches in one country? I thought I had seen foreign banks with branches in NYC.
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Old 11-26-2021, 09:22 AM   #3
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I transferred nearly my entire wealth (7 figures) from the US to Europe 3 years ago. At the time I used Transferwise for only a small portion of the transfers because I found that a more convenient way was to open a checking account at HSBC in the US and one at HSBC in my destination country (not a small feat in itself, when not yet a resident of that country). Then moving money between the two accounts was as simple as a moving money between 2 accounts within the same bank. It was a one step process and the money appeared in my account in Europe the next business day. No transfer fees, but around 1% currency exchange fees IIRC (yeah not cheap, but the price to pay for convenience). The HSBC route appeared gone now as HSBC is shuttering its US operations, but other international banks might be an option.
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Old 11-26-2021, 09:35 AM   #4
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That's kind of what I was thinking, FIREd, and I know Capital One had a credit card that doesn't charge an exchange fee, they just give you the bank rate if you charge abroad in a foreign currency, so I thought there might be a bank that did that with withdrawals/deposits.
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Old 11-26-2021, 09:54 AM   #5
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I did something very similar to Fire’d with 2 HSBC accounts, used it to transfer a 6 figure sum to the UK to buy a house but mostly I use Wise (used to be called Transferwise) for most of our transfers.

Unlike Fire’d we are both US citizens so OP needs to be aware that USCs are considered resident in the USA for tax no matter where they live. Consequently any overseas ‘mutual’ funds are taxed punitively as PFICs. Vanguard.co.uk has mainly ETF funds similar to their funds in the USA but Vanguard UK won’t even allow a USC to become a customer because of FATCA regulations. (It is easier for foreign financial institutions to simply avoid reporting to the USA by having no USC customers)

Vanguard US allows overseas customers so I manage and maintain our IRA and brokerage accounts from England easily enough, selling, trading and moving money to England as needed. We also have private US pensions plus SS which means lots of financial ties and need to be able to move money regularly to England.
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Old 11-26-2021, 10:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thegrind View Post
I have citizenship in Europe as well as USA. I would like to retire to Europe. I'm not sure if I want to leave my money in the USA. I guess to do this I would have to setup a mail forwarding service?
I forgot to mention that if you choose your US bank and brokerage carefully they will allow an overseas address. For us it is HSBC US and Vanguard, but other banks and brokerages also accept overseas customers. So no need for a forwarding address.

I did initially use our daughter’s address as our mailing address with Vanguard, and when our son moved over in 2017 he gave his sister’s address to the company he left so they would send his final W2 there, which they did and she sent him a picture of it. In both our cases the State of California came after us for taxes and we had to complete more tax forms plus proof that we were not resident and that the companies that had sent the W2 and 1099-R were not California companies.
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Old 11-26-2021, 11:24 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
I did something very similar to Fire’d with 2 HSBC accounts, used it to transfer a 6 figure sum to the UK to buy a house but mostly I use Wise (used to be called Transferwise) for most of our transfers.
It seems like I was making large transfers and there was some kind of limit with Transferwise perhaps? I can't remember now but I have a lot of $15K transactions with Transferwise on my spreadsheet. On that spreadsheet, I also tracked the cost of moving money (including transfer fees and currency exchange fees). To give a rough idea, transfers with HSBC cost me around 1.1% and transfers with Transferwise around 0.65% (at the time).
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Old 11-26-2021, 12:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
It seems like I was making large transfers and there was some kind of limit with Transferwise perhaps? I can't remember now but I have a lot of $15K transactions with Transferwise on my spreadsheet. On that spreadsheet, I also tracked the cost of moving money (including transfer fees and currency exchange fees). To give a rough idea, transfers with HSBC cost me around 1.1% and transfers with Transferwise around 0.65% (at the time).
You were probably a newish customer like myself and had some limitations. I normally don’t transfer more than $15k at a time with Wise.
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Old 11-26-2021, 09:50 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info. I had an account at HSBC with this in mind but closed it when I heard they are pulling out of the US. I am a little leery about FACTA as I was calling around to some banks in Europe and they wanted no part of FACTA even though I am not doing this to avoid taxes but then again this was shortly after FACTA came out. Looks like Wise would be my best bet to dribble the money in.
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Old 11-27-2021, 02:24 AM   #10
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For my apartment, I used Schwab. Others I know are happy for small transactions with Wise. Some have used MoneyCorp or OFX.

I agree, if you already have target countries in mind and are not renouncing your US citizenship, I'd look at the tax treaties closely. In a number of cases, it is more advantageous to retain US-based investment accounts.
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Old 11-27-2021, 07:18 AM   #11
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I keep all invested assets in the US, which has the world's most transparent, efficient, and inexpensive markets. Investing as an American in European mutual funds, ETFs, etc. can be very tricky with respect to taxes (both US and the European country you live in). So, be very cautious about this.

I use Schwab as a brokerage and bank in the US but also have some Vanguard funds (TIRAs and Roths). I maintain a US address for this purpose. I transfer funds to my local bank in Switzerland from Schwab in the US using Wise (formerly called TransferWise). The rates are low and the transfers are very fast and have been getting faster over the years. Never any problems.

It works as follows: I transfer funds quarterly. As income accumulates in the Schwab account I initiate (online) a Wise transfer from their US domestic bank to my Swiss bank at a guaranteed mid-market actual FX rate plus a small fee. This results in overall costs that are significantly lower than bank-bank international wire transfers. Wise then waits for the exact amount I am transferring to show up in their US account (along with information identifying me as the transferee).

I then do a domestic transfer to that bank from my Schwab account. Schwab charges $15 dollars/transfer but the first three each quarter are free. Hence, I try to do only three per 90 days and cherry pick the best FX rate days. I find that the domestic wire transfer (Schwab to Wise bank) is measured in minutes, start to finish. Then Wise picks up the funds from its account and I receive my funds in my account within x hours (Wise estimates the time of receipt at my bank and is usually right).

The reason Wise is cheaper is because it doesn't actually transfer your funds, but instead pays them out to you in your own country and in its currency from a bank account it maintains in your country. So, for them always a domestic transfer. Wise keeps me updated via email of their steps in the transfer process. Note: I employ email/text alerts from FX sources so that I can be assured of a good rate that might pop up on any given day. It makes a difference.

FATCA is indeed a huge problem for Americans in Europe and around the rest of the world. Most banks just won't allow American accounts. I was asked to cancel my account within 24 hours of notice more than a decade ago. In Switzerland the bank of the Postal Service must, by charter, allow any customer to have an account, so they are the default. But UBS has a set up for Americans--they wall off this group in a way that avoids much of the FATCA reporting from the rest of the bank.

As US citizens my wife and I have to fill in a joint report (online) once/year detailing all of our non-US accounts, via the FBAR report. We are below the thresholds for detailed FATCA reporting.

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