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I'm moving to Costa Rica on May 2

Should I wait until I get to Costa Rica to set up a bank checking account and a mail office box ?

You will have to present documents in person at the bank.
I am not sure about a P.O. box but I have been told that you will need ID for that also.  Many post offices do not have any boxes available.

Yes, Terry is right.

Gracias for the information. Do you know if any of the Costa Rican Banks have branches in the USA, perhaps in Texas or Florida ? The reason I'm asking is both of my income sources are paid via direct deposit and it takes up to 2 months to get my income transferred to the new account. Just curious. Gracias.

There are no affiliations at all.  I am from Canada and there is a Scotia bank in Canada and the same here.  Same name but no affiliation.  When we first contemplated moving here we were forced to change banks in Canada as the bank I had dealt with for forty years could not figure out how to transfer money to Costa Rica.  We shopped around and found that the Royal Bank will allow us to electronically transfer up to $2500 daily directly into our Banco Nacional account.  It can really pay to shop around before the big move.  And best of luck on that move!!!

Thank you for your help Terry. I guess what I will do is open up a checking account in CR and every 2 weeks transfer money from my Regions bank account so as to minimize the International charge for transferring funds. It's a small price to pay considering I intend to make CR my permanent home.

We are permanent here for two plus years.  Check with your banks that you have access to to allow you to transfer money.  All our cash base is in Canada other than what we electronically transfer down for incidentals.  We use our credit card for most everything.  There is no definitive answer to your question but when we moved we didn't even have questions.  You will find a way to work it out and right now your questions sound big but by the time you get here you will wonder why you ever asked them (as we did)
Cheers .... Terry

Here is some additional info, when a tourist opens a 'some what' limited  account here.

Using a credit card has some safety but you pay a lot more for most things than with Colones. Keep your direct deposits in the US and transfer monthly. $60 fee for each so limit it. Not sure why you would need PO Box. When you get settled in if you decide you need packages just find local shipping center.

Good luck opening a bank account in Costa Rica "although I heard they finally might be allowing foreigners without status to do that".  We had too much hassle with opening a bank account here so we just use our credit card and use online banking to pay it each month.  Also... the line ups a the banks here are insane, unless you deal with Scotiabank.

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I am almost positive anyone can open an account online at BCR (Banco De Costa Rica) now. I do know I read that last year.
What we do is use Capital One 360 and just take money out of the account using Costa Rican atm's. Cap One pays all transactions and provides an excellent exchange rate so it's totally worth it to open an account with them.

Dseabaugh, you do not provide enough background info from which people can make suggestions.  What I read so far brings to mind the phrase, 'the blind leading the blind'.

You say you are planning to move permanently.  OK, is that to work or are you retired? 

You say you will transfer funds from your US bank.  OK, are those funds simply cash savings or are they from some kind of income stream generated in the USA?  If an income, what kind of income? 

After retiring early (very), I have spent the last 27 years living in various countries and have become familiar with the ways of handling funds from one country to another.  Yet, I cannot make one suggestion to you without having more background information.  Those who are making suggestions, are making assumptions which may or may not be correct and in some cases suggesting ways of transferring money that are definitely not the best way to go regardless of circumstances.

Using a credit card from your home country on an ongoing basis for example does not make sense unless it is a card that adds no exchange loading.  Specifically for TerrynViv, if you have been using RBC debit and/or credit cards for 2 years, they have cost you 2.5% of the total amount you have used them for.  If you have spent say $20k a year x 2 years, then you have GIVEN the RBC a nice $1000 profit out of your pocket.  If some of that was transferred bank to bank as you seem to imply, the same 2.5% is probably being charged for exchange loading.

People making monthly transfers of funds 'bank to bank' may also be losing similar amounts on exchange loading with every transfer as well as paying transfer fees.  The best way to transfer large sums to another country, whether one time sums (such as a house purchase) or regular transfers (such as monthly income), is using a Forex company, never a bank transfer.  Forex companies will charge you 1% over the Interbank Rate for each transfer, banks will charge you more than that.

If you have a bank account in your new country and some of your income is from pensions, it may make more sense to have your pension deposited directly in your local bank account.   Many countries will pay your government pension payments directly into any bank account in any country in the world you want them to.  In some cases, they send the funds in their currency and you then have to deal with the exchange loading that your local bank charges.  That can mean shopping for the right bank. 

In some cases, a pension provider will exchange the funds to your local currency before sending the funds to your bank account.  In that case, the exchange loading cost occurs at the front end.  But often when they do that, they use a service like a Forex company and pay a minimal exchange loading of say 1% vs. a common bank loading of say 2.5%. 

My wife for example gets a UK government pension paid directly to a bank in Canada and the exchange is done at the Canada end and costs 2.5%.  She also gets a UK private pension paid directly to the bank in Canada and that exchange is done at the UK end by the pension provider, using a third party forex company and gets done at 1%.  If she had that money deposited into a UK bank account and then made withdrawals using a UK Debit card or spent it using a UK credit card, she could lose as much as 4.5% on exchange loading depending on which UK bank's cards she was using.  If she used cards from a UK bank that charges 0% exchange loading, that would be better but that then leads to questions about where are you paying income tax on the income and are you a 'non-resident for tax purposes' in a country or not.

So as you can see, this is not a simple subject.  Each individual's circumstances differ and without knowing more of the background, what anyone says they do vs. what you should do can be completely different.

My experience has been that most people dealing with income from one country going to another country, do not really know what is in their best interest.  They may THINK they do, but they often don't.  It sounds like nickalas for example may well be paying exchange loading plus his $60 fee for transfers from his USA bank account and that is simply GIVING away money.  And it sounds like TerrynViv are probably GIVING their Royal Bank of Canada a nice profit as well.  It also sounds like Sambuenaventuraman may also be losing on exchange loading with cards.  I may nor may not be correct about them, I simply don't have enough info on their circumstances to be certain but I'd bet on my having got it right in at least 1 out of the 3 cases and that means someone is losing money they don't need to.

I don't see any responses you have received that look to me like someone has a real good handle on how BEST to handle money coming to CR from another country and no one has a good handle on YOUR personal circumstances on which to give suggestions.

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