Work Abroad but earn in USD

Monday, July 18, 2005

Getting Dollars Into Argentina

I received a very important question from a reader about getting dollars into the country in order to buy an apartment. First the question and then the response.

Reader's Question

Did you transfer dollars from a bank out of Argentina to your Argentine bank and then have them converted to pesos, then reconverted to dollars to pay the seller at closing? Or did you do a wire transfer into your Argentine bank and get out dollars directly?

I did a wire transfer in dollars and received the money here in dollars. However, most transfers are required to go through the central bank to be converted into pesos. If you use certain exchange houses here you can do the transfer in dollars. Your realtor here will provide you with a recommendation. The cost is usually 1.5% of the amount they transfer for you, which is still cheaper than doing two currency conversions.

Be aware that there is a new law that says transfers over a certain amount (I'm not sure what the amount is) will have 30% held by the central bank for 1 year before the full amount is released. This is ostensibly to prevent speculation. I've been told there are people who can get around this regulation one way or another.

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Blogger elizabeth said...

Having lived here for several years we have investigated all the possible different ways to get money in.

We use our checking account in the states for almost everthing. We take cash out of the ATM for our living expenses (the exchange is pretty good, commerical rate) and is convenient. When we were building or if we have a large expense we generally have money wired from our account into the account of the vendor who almost always uses a clearing house account. Generally we would pay or spilt the commission that is paid to the clearing house. (Generally it is 1.5%) This money is usually available to the beneficary within days. If you use a commerical bank, the fees are 1.2% and they can hold funds for a year. But generally they dont withold, but the do take weeks to release funds. When we bought a car it took three weeks for them to pay the car dealer the funds, there was a ton of paperwork and this wasnt for alot of money. We avoid using commerical banks in Argentina when possible, Uruguay is a more consumer friendly alternative.

7/19/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Pepino said...

I recently bought an apartment in B.A. (I am a New Yorker by birth). I needed to act fast on a good deal, and I exhausted all methods of transferring quickly. So I wound up bringing all of it (two score thousands) in cash! I had special clothing made by a local tailor in NY and sewed the cash inside (for security, not illegality). I did research and found that it is legal to bring large amounts of cash out of the US, and there are no fees, but anything above $10,000 (I think) must be declared. I had all the necessary paperwork to declare it ready for the US customs, but they never checked. I wore the money for days until I got it into a safety deposit box. Then later paid for the apartment. No fees, just fears!

Not necessarily recommended, but it worked.

7/20/2005 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Argentina is such a mystery. I understand the concern that Argentina has for someone laundering money. But what I can't understand is why a country, in the financial straights of Argentina, would not do whatever they can to encourage foreigners to invest in Argentina - and bring their foreign currencies with them! It doesn't make sense to me. If I bring my U.S. dollars there - and spend it - Argentina business gains.

Does anyone watching this Blog know something further regarding this new law about the hold on 30% of transfered money for a year?

7/27/2005 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Pepino. I know other people that did that. I don't recommend it though. All it takes is a customs agent to call his buddy and rob you blind at the side of the road. As you mentioned, you can bring in as much as you want as long as you declare it but there are risks. I've heard of others in foreign countries that did this and the customs agents that saw the declaration forms must have been working with thieves that robbed them at the side of the road.

Just not a good idea and not worth the risk to save some money. The risk/reward ratio is just not there.

There are reputable private entities that you can transfer money with quickly and easily. Just make sure you are using someone reputable though as you are wiring money into their account.

I agree with Carolyn. Argentina is a great country but they are doing a lot of things wrong. It is simply foolish to make it so difficult for foreigners investing in Argentina. I should know. I'm buying more residential real estate in Argentina than anyone in the world right now.

Part of the reason that they are watching so closely on money flowing back into Argentina is because many Argentines moved money outside of the country before, during and after the crash. The locals are masters at tax evasion. After the crash, they benefitted and just got richer while many lost their shirts. The government basically wants to take a good look and see where many got their funds.

Take a look at the mortgage situation here. The banks are itching to get back into the lending business for mortgages. Part of the big problem is that even with the proposed 50% mortgages, locals need to show that they make enough income to make the mortgage payments. Most of them can't show even legal (white) income so a legit mortgage wouldn't work. They would have too much scrutiny.

I love Argentina but many things here are just broken. Oh well.

8/09/2005 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said... can you expand on the reputable private entities that you can transfer money to? Are these some sort of financial institutions? Do you have any recommended firms? Many thanks.

8/27/2005 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Hi Jason,

I have accounts with various local "private banks". I mainly use one now. I can't give out the referral because they along with most reputable don't advertise and do NOT take on new clients. It's more of a referral type of thing with them. They will take on any of my consulting clients but they don't take new clients.

1/14/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Flaco said...

So it seems no one has a solution besides bringing in cash under 10,000? I am involved in a business that requires money to be transferd to Argentina. Money that can not go down with a person. Any suggestions, comments, contacts would be greatly appreciated.
This is really sad for Argentina.

1/18/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger rock hound said...

I know this subject has been knocked around quite a lot but here goes again... My wife is an Arg. citizen, her sister-in-law is a BA attorney and collectively neither knows anything about getting legit money into the country to purchase propert(s). I have read all the blogs/comments/ideas/suggestions BUT, does anyone have any real practical and legal knowledge regarding the subject? Contacting the Arg. embassy in Washington or one of it's consulates will get you nowhere. Surely someone who reads all these questions has some sensible and legal suggestions as to how to do this properly, avoiding all the comm. bank pitfalls, taxes, corruption, etc. Does the Arg. govn. place a tax on hard currency or electronic transfers coming into the country? What happens if you declare that you are bringing in $100,000 dollars (or some sum) on your customs form? Is it confiscated, taxed, placed in holding? Thanks, would appreciate any and all ideas. Rockhound

4/29/2008 04:22:00 PM  

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