Renouncing US citizenship to get a bank account

I’ve lived overseas since 2002. Recently I was asked (told) to close my bank account because I am American. It seems the bank doesn’t want the extra burden that having an American client requires (lots of IRS forms)… mind you, this is a bank in a foreign country.

I don’t have a second citizenship, but it may come to me having to renounce my US citizenship and become stateless to maintain my life here. I believe I could obtain a UN Stateless Persons document which, as I would no longer be American, should allow me to open a bank account so I can pay my bills.

Being an ex-pat I am tired of being singled out for my pariah-nationality. It is getting harder and harder to function in the rest of the world.

This might be a problem worth taking to the US Consulate in your country of residence.

As this is General Questions, can you say what your question is?

And the question is…?

For the record, stateless people get screwed at every turn. The idea of voluntarily becoming a stateless person because of some troubles with your checking account is absolutely extraordinary to me, it is almost like looking at famine victims and admiring how lithe they are.

At the very least, you must examine how the country you reside in would treat you since your visa would presumably be invalidated, there may be profound implications for any residency card you may hold, and how you might do business if your identity comes into question.

The question is “What are some of the difficulties I may face being stateless and if my residency is no longer valid here, where would they deport me to (since I would be stateless)?”

Without a bank account, eventually they will turn off the utilities in my home which I own. It also makes it impossible to pay for lots of related things. I have no desire to return to the US and would not want to be deported there.

Surely there are other banks around? For example don’t any of the big American banks have branches in your country–like Citibank?

There is a CitiBank but they will not open an account either. A friend was recently kicked out of his bank for the same reason but his wife is a local and they can open accounts in her name only. My bank (one of the larger ones) told me that more than 20,000 American accounts are being closed. I was given 30 days to withdraw all my money.

This is an article about the local situation:

can you keep your money in a pay-as-you-go debit card? in other words, instead of going to the bank to make a deposit, go to 7-Eleven to charge the card.

Probably not - it seems the US government is the ultimate cause of the issue, prompting many banks to simply decide it’s not worth the hassle of having expat Americans as customers.

How could that possibly affect a small local bank that has no branches in the US?

See FATCA Provisions.

From the State Department:

So looks like you could be deported back to the U.S. Not sure how that would work.

Yes, some banks are choosing to force Americans to close accounts rather than have the bank incur the costs associated with FATCA reporting.

From CNN Money:

There are some 7.2 million Americans living abroad - more than the population of Washington state.

Can you come back to the US and open up an account at a US branch of Citibank and then start accessing your account from the foreign branch? How easy is it to access your money in multiple countries in general if you have an account at a bank with branches in more than one country? Do you have to “transfer” your account or pay “go away” fees every time you want to access it from another country?

I see nothing that would apply to a bank that has no connection to the US. How can it be enforced? What penalties might they suffer?

We have been told we need to wire the funds to another bank, take the account in cash, or if we do nothing for 30 days, the bank will send us an bank draft for the full amount (which we could not cash without another bank account).

It seems to be widespread. Even looking in neighboring countries, no bank will take us. I don’t know of any pre-paid debit system here. All the cards are ultimately tied to a bank. I guess I could pay most of my bills in cash, but not sure as they have been auto-debited for so long.

Yes, I know about this, but the US Consular Services are probably in a better place to deal with the fallout, and in fact that’s part of their job: dealing with difficulties US citizens have while abroad. They will know about the situation.

Opening an online US bank account might also solve your problems, but that might be difficult if you don’t have a US address.

The US could prevent them from buying US securities, offering VISA or Mastercard credit/debit cards, even preventing them from buying US dollars.

I suppose that getting married isn’t an option.

It sounds like the whole situation sucks. You have my sympathy.

That doesn’t really work. Bank of America for example has offices everywhere (Hong Kong, Dubai etc), but they can’t help holders of BofA accounts in the USA.

I am married (to another American)