Americans abroad urged to contact Congress about accessing U.S., overseas banking services


American Citizens Abroad (ACA) has urged all American citizens living overseas who have had difficulties opening or maintaining bank accounts in the U.S. or overseas, to send an account of their experiences to the House Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Last month, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) asked this committee to hold hearings on the difficulties Americans are having with bank accounts worldwide, as a result of complex and punitive U.S. legislation. The letter they sent can be found on the following website:; ).

Maloney and Wilson are co-chairs of the Americans Abroad Caucus in the House, and they made their formal request for hearings during the recent Overseas Americans Week (OAW) in April. During this week, delegates from three different organizations of Americans living abroad held over 100 meetings with members of Congress and of the U.S. administration, on issues of concern to U.S. citizens overseas. The meetings focused on the key issues of bank accounts, taxation, citizenship, and voting.

The organizations which participated were AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas), ACA (American Citizens Abroad) and FAWCO (Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas). These organizations represent some of the estimated 7 million U.S. citizens living outside of the United States.

The bank account issue was a hot topic at this year's OAW. Banks in the United States are closing even longstanding accounts of Americans who live abroad. These banks claim that they cannot properly check the identity of clients who have a non-U.S. address.

At the same time, banks overseas are closing accounts of U.S. citizens, or refusing to open new accounts, because of laws and regulations imposed by the U.S. government, which banks and clients alike consider complex, intrusive and punitive. In some cases, complying with the new U.S. rules would require Americans overseas to break the law in their country of residence. Articles have appeared recently in Time magazine and in the New York Times explaining the details of this onerous legislation.

ACA urges Americans overseas to contact the House Financial Services Committee with comments and stories of personal experiences, to emphasize how serious the problem has become. Go to the following website and complete the form to send a message to the Committee:; Under "city" and "state", either fill in your voting residence in the United States, or your place of residence overseas.

Written by Anne Hornung-Soukup and Jackie Bugnion, directors of ACA.

© Japan Today

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U.S. institutions which have forced overseas Americans to close their accounts include Ameriprise, Bank of America, Citibank, E-Trade, Fidelity, INGDirect, JPMorganChase, Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, T.Rowe Price, Vanguard, Wachovia, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo.

Has anybody here actually had their bank accounts closed because you live in Japan? It's the first I've heard of this. I'm glad I bank with HSBC.

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There are financial institutions in Japan that refuse to open bank accounts for Americans because of the tax reporting requirements. Also, Japanese that live here who own stocks of US companies have to file a form justifying why they should not file US income taxes.

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WTF is this? Contact US Congress, Facebook.... contact the ACA? This is how it is: File your taxes with the IRS by June 15th (yanks). If you make over 91K... get an accountant and file, under-- file your exempt form as you fork over enough (as I do with J guv). Have proof and dont mess about or cheat. Bank with only reputable banks. Use a Japanese account for daily living and keep the rest wherever, however I would recommend HK or SG for Japan expats here for good. I have had my HSBC account in Hong Kong for 8 years. My pension is offshore with Zurich in Isle of Man and my retirement land is an offshore asset in Costa Rica and I keep other things legally shoosh. I have paid my taxes since I mowed lawns and washed dishes at working for the US Guv in my 20s. Too many Wallstreet crooks & US millionaires & billionaires US should be worrying about. Voting... go to the Embassy or consulate and vote... People overseas already have to put up with enough sh**. Tax treaties and smart banking... Have a nice day Uncle Sam.

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If you trust anyone in your family enough, it's probably worth it to put their name on your account. I would assume this would prevent it from being closed, if the other person is a US resident. But you would have to really, really trust them.

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There's several very good reasons why banks don't want to deal with Americans, mainly because of laws Congress have passed. There are tax reporting requirements uniquely for Americans, there are regulations that open you up to lawsuits and criminal charges with Americans (Swiss banks got hit with huge lawsuits and criminal charges by the US government), and then some. These laws exist for a good reason and I'm not attacking them, but it needs to be pointed out that American customers require a lot more paperwork and liability to serve. That's just the way it is.

Frankly, international banking is a mess anyways whether you're American or not. Incompatabilities across the world, the fact that only a few ATMs in Japan even accept foreign cards (Citi being one of them), etc.. The world is just a bit backwards on this, mainly because there aren't enough customers who need such services to justify the effort.

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Just another tid bit FYI. You can use international ATM banks cards at all 7-11s, including offshore. Cheers.

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I wouldn't get the U.S. Congress involved with my U.S. bank account under any circumstances.

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