A new country, a new bank

IMGP7335 By 10th July the apartment was mine at a final deal of US$59000, provided that I could complete the transaction within the deadline. Target date was initially agreed to be 31st July but was later negotiated to be 15th August. I needed the extra time, and you will see why.


Part 2: Getting the money in to Argentina

This part is not easy if like me, you are not a resident. I am only here on a tourist visa. There are banks on every street corner in Buenos Aires and some even have familiar names to lull you into a false sense of security, like HSBC. I visited many of them but most would not open an account for me. Only one agreed, and then only for 90 days so that I could make the transfer. I celebrated that day, but my joy was short lived.

If you want to transfer money from abroad into Argentina you have to prove that your money is ‘clean’, that it hasn’t come from an illegal source. No problem I thought. Easy. A letter from my solicitor in the UK should do it. It turned out that to satisfy the bank, I would need exactly that, plus my divorce certificate, the financial consent order from the court, bank statements tracking the money, a letter from my ex-husband’s employer confirming his employment… In the end thanks to huge efforts by everyone involved in the UK, I had everything. But to be accepted by the bank the documents had to be certified as legal by the ‘Argentine Consulate’ in London, then sent over here, translated, re-certified and this process was going to take exactly how long…? The bank’s estimate was at least four weeks at the argentine end.

I abandoned standard banks. Time was running out. I went to Casa Piano/Banco Piano, the most respected exchange bureau in the city. They too needed to see all my documents proving that my money was clean, but the difference was they only took 48 hours to make their decision. And they said YES! Of course they would charge me 2% to make the transfer. There were other conditions: I could only open an account in argentine pesos and as a non resident I wouldn’t be able to convert this amount of pesos into dollars (The vendor would have to do this in the moment that I paid him. Fortunately he agreed.); I could only transfer exactly the cost of the apartment and no more (I would have to withdraw all the costs and commissions from the ATM, at the maximum allowable rate of $900 pesos a day!); the money could only be released in one final payment in exchange for the apartment (In Argentina it is normal to pay 30% in a transaction of goodwill called ‘el boleto’ and the remaining 70% on the final day at ‘la escritura’ in exchange for the keys. I had to get the vendor to agree to 100% at ‘la escritura’. Fortunately they agreed.).

A word of warning. Before you can open any kind of account in any kind of bank in Buenos Aires including Banco Piano you need two things. Get these in advance:

  1. A Certificado de Domicilio. Actually you will need two of these – one is for the bank and the other is required in order to obtain the second thing you need! To obtain these two certificates you must visit your local Comiseria (that’s police station to me and you). It has to be the correct one for your address. You take your passport, pay $10 pesos and they complete the forms – the name of your bank (so you need to know the bank name) goes on one, and the initials AFIP go on the other. The next day or the day after they visit you at the address you have given, confirm that you live there and issue the certificates. You have in your hands proof for the bank that you live in the city, and proof for AFIP that you live in the city!
  2. A CTI number from AFIP. This number gives you an identity in the argentine tax system. To obtain this you take the correct Certificado of Domicilio to the AFIP office covering your address. You take your passport with you. In the office they give you a form to complete with all your details, you take a number from the machine and you wait for your number to come up. When it does they enter you into the system and you leave with the form complete with CTI number. You officially exist in Argentina!

Finally I got the go ahead to make the transfer. In the days of electronic systems it amazed me that I could not request the transfer from my bank in England by any method other than sending a completed form via good old snail mail. And DHL or FEDEX is still snail mail believe me. Don’t pay attention to those TV adverts that imply you have whole teams of people racing against the clock to get your documents to the other side of the world within 24 hours. It took from Saturday to Thursday for my request to reach the UK with DHL. It traveled via Paris and Belgium. My bank in England, did make the transfer immediately – at least the money left my account immediately, on the Thursday night. The money finally arrived in Buenos Aires, via SWIFT transfer, the following Wednesday! Very swift, the whole process…

The relief of hearing that Banco Piano had the money and it was available to me was like breathing after almost drowning. There is something very unsettling about your money floating somewhere, unseen, in an ‘electronic transfer’ for days on end. The date was now 8th August. One week to the deadline. Was I going to make it? I hoped so. My dreams were now in the hands of the argentine solicitors – the ‘escribanos’, and all I could do was watch the clock and dance tango…


2 Responses

  1. FELICIDADEEEEEES!!!!!!!!!! Por el amor de Dios!! What a process and finally it’s yours, Sally! Que bueno! Me gustaria poder estar all para celebrar con vos, mi querida amiga!Besooooooooos!!!!!!!!!

  2. How incredibly exhausting…I need a nap now!

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