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Can I Recieve My Social Security Payments To An Overseas Bank Account?

Question:

What are the pros and cons of having social security funds automatically deposited into the foreign bank account of the country one chooses to retire?

Answer:

As far as we know it is generally not feasible or even possible to have your US social security payments deposited directly into a foreign bank account.

For one thing, it is relatively expensive to send funds from any US bank account to a foreign bank account – typically $35 – $50 per transfer. In some cases this fee is charged by both sides (sender and recipient).

Secondly, US Social Security payments simply cannot be programmed to deposit into a non-US bank account, although Mexico may be the possible exception due to the large number of US social security recipients in Mexico.

You may consider services like EverBank, which enables you to avoid excessive charges when you send money to your foreign account, however for social security payments which are relatively small and frequent, the fees would probably be too high to justify this set up.

By far the easier way to get your money overseas to where you need it is to do one of two things:

1. Keep your US account for receiving your Social Security, then withdraw your money in cash from an ATM in your new country of residence. Your home bank will charge you about $5.00 per cash withdrawal so this is not ideal but you would not need a local bank account, or

2. Set up a bank account in your new country of residence and periodically wire transfer funds from your U.S. account to your new account overseas.

For example, you could send 3-4 months worth of funds down to your overseas account, which will still probably cost you $30 – $50 per transfer.  Having a local account is convenient for day to day use, and enables to make payments locally via check instead of cash. You may also be able to apply for a credit card with your new bank, which can be handy as a back up method of payment.

Obviously it would be even better (cheaper) if you can afford to send an entire year’s worth of funds in advance, let your Social Security payments accumulate in your US account and then send another batch down next year, etc.  However if your funds are invested at home, you may be better off keeping a smaller balance overseas and leave the majority of your assets in your home account.

6 responses to “Can I Recieve My Social Security Payments To An Overseas Bank Account?”

  1. Yao

    Here is a little tip for all.

    My suggestion to this issue will be open up an investment checking account with Chalres Schwab, or Fidelity, put some investment in the account, and have the social security check direct deposit into the accompanying checking account. You will have your ATM card, you can take money out of any ATM in the world and they reimburse you for any fee the world wide ATM charges you. Then you do not have to worry about getting money when you travel, it doesn’t matter what bank you use. The exchange rate is not bad either.

    I lived in China for two months and I find it is very easy to use the Charles Schwab ATM card to get money out of China, and HK and even Macau. I take money out of ATM in US also. You can put left over money into investment or Saving account.

    I hope that helps!

  2. John

    Here is the latest web site from SS for direct deposit to a foreign country:
    http://www.socialsecurity.gov/international/countrylist6.htm

    Also I used PAYPAL when I was in Thailand for 6 months and there transaction fee were real low compared to WIRE TRANSFERS.

    I transferred from my Chase bank to Paypal to my bank in Thailand. Takes time to setup account(s) in Paypal to complete. Also takes appx. 12 to 15 days to complete total bank transfers.

    Nice web site. Wished Thailand was in the SSA list

  3. geomark

    There are quite a few countries where you can receive direct deposit. An official list is here http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10158.html

    No info about fees, however. If you are going the other route, taking direct deposits to your US bank and then wiring it overseas, you can do a lot better than $35 to $50 per wire. Shop around. Going the ATM withdrawal route you also need to shop around to find a bank and plan where you can minimize both ATM fees and a big hit from what they call “foreign transaction fee” which is 3% at some banks.

  4. John

    the recent financial crisis showed us just how shaky the US banks are. My Social Security check goes into a Canadian bank, the world’s most stable banking system, one that didn’t require any bailouts ever. I’m a dual resident of the US and Canada and received both SS and Canadian pensions also spent thirty years in banking in the UK US and Canada. Don’t like American banks, they’re arrogant, unstable and charge ridiculous fees

  5. Michaela

    Ellen,

    thank you so much for that info. It does tell everything needed to make an educated guess. Wonderful. I have been searching for this info for a while now and now I found it, thanks to you. Thank you

  6. Ellen

    Hi Michael, etc .
    Last year I went to the http://www.socialsecurity.gov website and there were clear indications (at least I remember it being clear) that we can have social security checks direct deposited into accounts in about twenty countries. I’m not sure if my memory is not accurate or there have been some changes, but here’s the link to the page that discusses it:
    http://www.ssa.gov/foreign/index.html
    Perhaps you can make more sense of it than I can.
    Ellen

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