Work Abroad but earn in USD

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bringing Money Into Argentina

A reader recently left a comment on a discussion about bringing money into the country. There was some confusion over this, so I wanted to try and clear things up.

Reader's Comment

So, it seems no one has a solution [to the problem of bring money into Argentina] besides bringing in cash under $10,000 [when traveling]? 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.

You Can Bring Money In

There is no problem bringing money into the country. If you're a legal resident you can transfer money to your bank account. The problem is that property here is priced in dollars and that's what people are usually bringing the money in for.

This presents a dilemma. The Argentina Central Bank converts all incoming wires into pesos. You can't wire-in dollars. That means when you convert the pesos back to dollars, you've lost 7-10% of your money, depending on what rates you get. That's a huge sum of money to lose on a wire transfer. To further complicate matters, the central bank sometimes withholds 30% of the amount of the transfer for a year, to make sure you are not a speculator.

There are various financial firms, private parties, money brokers, etc. out there that will let you do a wire transfer in dollars. They maintain a bank account in the U.S. and let you make a transfer into that account. After receiving the sum in the U.S., they give you cash in a bag here in Argentina.

Even though the financial firm you are dealing with may be a well respected legal entity here in Argentina, the operation they just carried out for you is extra-legal. The law of the land is that all transfers must go through the Central Bank. Someone told me the term for this is "blue money" -- not quite black money from drugs or something else illegal, but not exactly 100% legal either.

Despite this, virtually everyone transfers their money using one of these firms. But since this service is typically unadvertised, you'll need to have a contact or a referral. Usually this will come from your real estate agent or from your Argentine business parter (they all know someone), etc.

If you're operating a business, however, you should check with your accountant before using something like this. I've heard from people in the real estate industry here and they say that eventually the government may ask people to document the source of the income used to purchase the apartment. This would probably happen when you sold the apartment. They say there might be some hoops to jump through if you can't show that you transfered the money in a legal way, but no one really knows. Its all speculation at this point.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold on, I have bought 3 properties there and the bank doesn't take 7-10% in fees. More like 2-3%. which is plenty enough.

1/19/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger SoyYo said...

Care to let the rest of us know which bank will do an international wire transfer, receive converted pesos from the central bank, then convert the pesos back to dollars at just 2-3%, even after all the wire and transaction fees? And do they withhold 30% for a year?

I'm sure everyone here would be interested in hearing what bank this is. And are you sure this isn't one of those legal financial services companies that offers this transfer service as a side business, as I explained earlier?

1/19/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the exact same problem when I bought an apartment in BA last year for $40,000 --- cash. I could not find any way to transfer the money. Not only were there fees involved, but there was a delay that I could not wait for. Western Union would do it, but there were limitations.

I finally sewed the cash into a shirt and wore it all on the plane, and put it in a safety deposit box in BA. WHen it was time to pay the cash, I retrieved the money from the box, and drove in a cab to the seller's bank. (I could have hired an armored bank truck there for a few hundred dollars too.)

Risky, maybe, but it worked out. I probably saved $6,000 and a lot of time.

By the way, it is legal to take ANY amount OUT of the U.S., but it must be declared. When I was in the airport, I had the papers ready, but no one ever asked for them so I never declared it.

1/19/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Citibank(I would think they are reputable, no) and there is no withholding. The rule is after you Sell the property you must keep the funds invested in Argentina for up to one year. I believe there are some exceptions to this rule, but since i haven't sold yet, i did not look into them. No issues on the transfer down. They just look into the source of the funds.

1/19/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering a few things and maybe you aren't the correct person to ask.

What do retirees do with the retirement plans / investments they have back in the US? I'm guessing they keep them invested in the US but are their advisors in B.A. that can help them? I'm a financial advisor and I can't imagine how these people couldn't want little help keeping their portfolio's current.

Also for taxes. I've spoken with an American in Germany who does taxes for Americans there and he charges about 4x normal US rates because of limited supply of US tax professionals in Germany. Just wondering if that is a problem in B.A. I could see a problem with being disconnected enough from US news that keeping up with current tax laws and financial news would be a chore most aren't interested in taking on.

Any thoughts?

1/19/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the evolution of tax software and the internet, there are a myriad of ways to have your taxes prepared in the US and electronically filed, so I don't see that aas a problem. As for your portfolio, it can still be managed in the Us, again, I don't see that as a big impediment.

1/20/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mojoglo said...

I am a 24-year-old reporter in North Carolina in the pre-planning stages of studying abroad in Argentina (either Buenos Aires or Cordoba). From the research I have done so far I feel confident that Argentina is the right place for me to study. I'm looking at studying at least two months but I have no idea how I will pay for it at this point, given that I plan to return to the U.S. and find another job after I quit my current one. Financial aid I've found is reserved for students and professional fellowships have strings attached. I find this blog very helpful and kudos to the creator. I'm not sure if I would ever go the expatriate route but I grew up in the military and have always had the desire to be Spanish bilingual and travel abroad. I'm wondering how long it took you to learn Spanish and if you know anything about Cordoba. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

1/20/2006 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger rickulivi said...

I would like to have Anonymous contact me. I am also a financial advisor based in California, and I am wondering if there is a market among the US expatriates in Buenos Aires for my services. I can be reached via email at

1/21/2006 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I have an account at banco frances and when i transferred my money into the country to purchase my second property i brought it in 'en blanco' as the government is much, much more careful than it was 2 years ago with regards to people bringing money into Argentina. I was charged something like US$50 as a transfer fee and then the money was changed into pesos at 2.95 to the US$ and then back at 2.93 to the US$. This worked out at under 1.5% of the amount i brought in.

A reputable private bank charges around 1.5%. Depending on whether you put the real purchase price on the contract, you'll probably need a mix of normal and private banking.

The government only holds 30% (for a whole year!) of the money you bring in if it for something other than a property purchase. In this case it's probably better to bring the money into Argentina in 'grey/blue'.

Also, amounts under US$50,000 (per month) don't need to be 'declared' when brought into Argentina through a normal bank. This means that for up to $50,000 the government wouldn't, in theory, withold 30%. Of course, being a non-resident might make the authorities take a closer look at things.

1/30/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchased a property 2 years and am currently in the process of purchasing another. I now have a DNI which helps tremendously with regards to setting up bank accounts. However I had to be a client for 6 months before receiving monies from overseas. I used a casa de cambio and brought in money at 1.5%, half in blue and half in white. I legalised the white part by buying and selling a government bond / shares which is another way to legalise money here in Argentina other than going through the banks.

2/03/2006 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If sending money from the USA,I highly suggest you look into opening a bank account in Santiago,Chile where the banks are very reliable and you can do dollar to dollar transfer from the uSA to a bank account .I suggest you pick a reputable bank such a Citibank.

Keep the bulk of your money in the Chileanen bank and bring to Argentina the amount you need.A $150 direct roundtrip hour flight from Buenos Aires on aerolineas argentinas or Air Canada(or a national flight to Mendoza and then over to Chile); once or twice a month to Chile is worth it.Plus while there you can visit a beautiful country and maybe buy electrodomestics and cloth there since Chile has a Free Trade Agreement with the USA. and the conversion from Argentine money to Chilean money is 1 Argentine Peso(s) = 175.578 Chilean Peso(s)

Last time I was in Mntevideo and needed money I had family members send me US greenbacks via Western Union and I received dollars,I do not know how it is in Argentina?

But if not look into a short flight or boat ride,into Montevideo

if you complain that US dollars are changed to pesos in Argentinean wire transfers,then look into opening an account in Chile I am sure you can do dollar to dollar tranfers there,has anyone looked into Montevideo ? Do they do the same there? If not it is probally worth the 45 minute flight or couple of hour boat ride.

1/03/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to share my experience. A month ago I started the process of buying an apartment in Buenos Aires. Fortunately, the seller has an account in the US, and the deal was to wire him the money directly into a US dollar account for the boleta and the final bill. The problem was paying the realtor, the notary and all the other stuff. I had to send money by western union which did give me the money in $$$, in the end it worked out to about 5% for 6k. I have gone to a bunch of banks, including Banco de la Nacion, which I have read allows accounts for foreigners, and they didn't allow me to open an account. I wonder how everybody else does it. I don't have a CDI yet, I'm supposed to be getting that before the closing.

2/27/2007 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on the reverse process? bringing pesos into the US on the most favourable terms? i have a friend who will be here for a year, she has an HSBC bank account. HSBC has told her she can leave her money in pesos in BA and use her credit card, but I am dubious of the rate they will give her. Argentinian banks give me the willies...

1/16/2008 11:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i am conducting research on the process of importing money into argentina for the purchase of property. if you have the email address of the anonymous user who left a message on 19/01/2006 detailing how he brought money into argentina by sewing it into his clothes can you get him/her to contact me at

1/21/2008 07:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im argentine but lived in USA for 30 years and am about to transfer 10,000 dollars from my account in california. Try BANCO PIANO.. its the best, cheapest, securest way to get money over here. You transfer your money ro a Bank of America account they partner with in New York. They then transfer from NY to BANCO PIANO in buenos aires.
their located on San Martin 345/7; 4326-9004
They charge 2 or 3% and give you your money in US if you transfer it that way. Good luck

1/28/2008 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone of you tried online services like paypal etc?
wiring within paypal in the same currency is free. withdrawing money to you credit card costs 11USD...
did anyone try that yet? you can reach me at

4/29/2008 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering why I can't simply set up a recurring wire transfer from my U.S. Citibank account to my Argentina Citibank account. I can't find a down side to this. Citi U.S. charges a flat $30 fee and Citi Arg charges 0.6%

1/30/2009 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

citibank US and citibank Argentina operate as if they were entirely different banks... if only it were that easy...

4/28/2009 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anybody tried (successfully) to wire more than 10K to Canada? I have DNI.

Anonymous 1/19/2006 : how did you manage to sew 40K into your shirt? Got hold of $1000 bills???? :)

11/01/2009 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting reading... I moved to Argentina in 1996, wired money to my bank account (I had a DNI which is necessary in order to open an account with an Argentine bank) and bought a house. I lived and worked there for a little over 7 years. When I left Argentina, I rented the house - it could not be sold at that time due to the state of the economy... now, 2010, it appears I may have a buyer. Besides the difficulties of exporting money from Argentina, does anyone know how the US (especially the IRS) looks at influxes of moderately large (US $ 150k) sums of money?

5/20/2010 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous (from 5/20/2010)...US banks are required to report deposits of more than USD 10K at a time to the IRS. If you do not report the USD 150K income to the IRS, they can come after you for tax evasion if they catch it. The most advisable thing to do is just declare it when you do your taxes. If the income was derived from selling property (even outside the US), you might be subject to capital gains taxes depending on whether it was your primary residence or not and how long you owned it. You will only be taxed on any profit, not the whole amount, so if you bought the property for say USD 100K and sold it for USD 150K, you would only be taxed on USD 50K. Subtract your fees and taxes (real estate agents commissions, closing costs) and your tax liability is further reduced. The tax rate is actually pretty low...depending on your income it can be as low as 5% but the max rate is still only 15%.
Hope that helps answer your question...
Also, does anybody have any experience selling a property in Argentina recently? I was wondering as a non-resident what to expect of my Argentina tax obligations...I was told I have to hire an accountant to settle my taxes. Also, do they ask you how you brought the money into the country to buy the property? I brought it in 10K at a time and was wondering if that will be a problem as I am thinking of selling...

7/15/2010 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have a house in Salta Argentina and I'm heading over there for a few months to put it on the market later this year. If anyone has recently sold a property and got the money out of Argentina I would be interested in how it all worked out. My Argentinian friend and I opened a joint account with BBVA and I thought once I paid the relevent taxes I could wire the money to my Australian bank account. Thanks in advance.

8/11/2010 09:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding transferring dollars to an Argentine bank to purchase real estate, can anyone recommend a good, knowledgeable accountant who actually knows the law and regulations and can actually offer some excellent advise (paid for of course)? I am a U.S. citizen but also enjoy legal status in Argentina with a DNI and bank account. But this process of moving money into the country appears to change about every two years thus complicating the process. My wife is Argentine.

10/06/2010 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Renata D said...

Hello everyone,
I need you help regarding wire transfer.
I work in a company that offers services to expatriates and I have a Chilean person living in Argentina that needs to receive an amount from abroad. The money should be transfered from HSBC Honk Kong to BBVA Banco Frances in Buenos Aires, however, the bank said that it is impossible for them to accept this transaction. Would you know what can this problem be and how do we solve that?


4/27/2011 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, i am looking into investing in Argentina, i lived in the U.S. a little over 22 years. My question is , how can i send money from the U.S. to Argentina without me travelling, i know i can only take with me $10k but my investment will be on the 100k and really 10 trips is a lot of money :)
Also it is to my understanding that if i wired the money to my Argentina account the bank will take 35% of taxes on the amount send?!?! Please i need some guidance. Thank you in advance.

4/02/2012 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Enrique P said...

I'm on a very similar situation as "Anonymous from 10/06/2010 03:54:00 PM" and have the same request.

Looking into transferring dollars into Argentina to purchase real state. Does anyone knows a good knowledgeable accountant who actually knows the law and regulations and can actually offer some advise?

I apreciate your help.

4/13/2012 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is the situiation now ? I see to can wire transfer in / out .

Western union 5000/10000USD ?

what is the best to sent 50.000 from Argentina to Europe ?

6/26/2017 07:34:00 AM  

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