I seem to be on an Eastern European trend these days.
As I wrote here, I met up with a Polish girl for a date in the Historic Center not too long ago.
Just recently, I met up with a Russian guy who new to Mexico City seemingly.
Just yesterday, I got on to the metro from UAM station heading towards Insurgentes metro.
I wasn't planning on meeting anyone but just wanted to sit down at the Starbucks in front of the Reforma Avenue.
There is a starbucks in that area where you an sit in a more open air space and have a nice view of the Angel of Independence statue while having some black tea.
As I was sitting down in the train, some obvious looking foreign dude walks into the train around Metro Atlallico.
Which is interesting because you typically don't see too many foreigners in these parts of Mexico City.
Reminds me of a time where I saw a foreign looking dude in an OXXO near Metro Politecnico and he got into line behind me with the same beer I was going to buy.
Not only did we share the same "foreigner" status but we also were buying the same beer. Comradery achieved.
At any rate, he ended up sitting down next to me as the seat next to me seemed to be one of the few still left not taken yet.
And, long story short, we were headed towards the same direction.
I forgot which metro station he was getting off at but it was somewhere along the pink line also in either Roma Norte or Condesa area.
These days, given all the work they are doing on that metro line, you have to exit the train station at Salto de Angel and then walk about 10 or so minutes to the Balderas metro station to continue on to the Insurgentes.
He was going past Insurgentes at I guess Metro Sevilla or Chapultepec or something.
Regardless, we ended up talking and he ended up saying something interesting to me that I never gave much thought to or have any experience with.
Discrimination Against Foreigners Opening Bank Accounts in Mexico
Given we were both obvious foreigners, we began chatting right away.
Reminds me of this video here.
"You're from America. I'm from America! What's up?!"
Of course, he wasn't from America but Russia but the idea is still the same.
Given we both live in Iztapalapa, we are likely the only foreigners we see in this area until we head to touristy parts like Roma Norte (for me) or Condesa (for him).
And from the ride itself to the walk outside the train station on the pink line to catch the next train, we had a bit of a small talk about life down here.
Basic questions of "what are you doing here? How long you been here?"
As usual for when an expat meets another expat.
He was actually in Mexico for some odd years and is technically a resident but just began living in Mexico City.
But, despite being a resident, he mentioned a difficulty he was having in Mexico that he got around to recently.
Of course, among expat conversations, we sometimes get onto topics about stuff that annoys us here.
But his problem was not one that I heard other American residents having in Mexico.
That being of "opening a bank account" in Mexico.
Despite having an RFC, CURP and other documentation, he apparently is having difficulty opening a bank account when they see he is from Russia.
According to him, they will give you the first excuse of "we don't do business with temporal residents."
When you show you are permanent, they will then say "our system isn't working. Sorry."
Reminds me of OXXO. Sorry, system don't work!
And, to be honest, this isn't the first time I've heard of foreigners having a hard time getting a local bank account.
Especially if they are from other select countries like in the Middle East (Iran for example).
Many months ago (or a year ago now?), I was in some mini gathering of foreigners and locals looking to "practice" their English or Spanish.
One of those events that serve well for having a beer, make friends and perhaps find someone to hook up with as I wrote here.
Though, in my experience in Mexico City, I find the events do focus unfortunately enough on the language learning than the above when compared to places in Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, etc.
Perhaps I'm going to the lame language exchange events.
And I remember meeting an Iranian guy just like that who was bitching about "things that annoy him" in Mexico as he tries settling here.
One of which was similar bank issues.
Again, this isn't an issue you hear too much or at all from Americans, Canadians, British folks or anything similar.
So not at all an issue I can relate to but seemingly one that normal folks from select countries will face when trying to be an expat abroad.
I simply wanted to shine some light on this for those few folks thinking of being an expat abroad while being from countries like that.
Especially after being told about it again.
So let's wrap this up with some minor tips and some last minute thoughts.
While this isn't an issue I have experienced, there are a few thoughts that come to mind as to what you could MAYBE do if you encounter this problem in Mexico.
First, though it might not always work, I guess show them your permanent residence documentation?
Second, I guess getting a foreign woman knocked up from an "approved" first world country like the US or UK could work in the long term? Then you get citizenship through her eventually and can claim to be American.
JUST AN IDEA.
Third, do know that these practices are technically illegal to discriminate against you due to your nationality. While the law is the law, also know that it isn't always properly enforced like in many countries.
Fourth, after looking into this, perhaps you could find some luck notifying CONDUSEF in Mexico? Not sure if they'd help you but, after enough time in Mexico, I think they'd be the governmental body to help you out in case of discrimination.
Fifth, you can check this link here for information on what is required to open a local bank account.
"¿Qué es una cuenta bancaria?
Una cuenta bancaria es un registro que mantiene un banco, en el que guarda tu dinero y contabiliza todas las entradas y salidas de efectivo a tu nombre, así como los créditos que tengas en curso, inversiones y productos relacionados. La cuenta bancaria también muestra el saldo actual de efectivo que tienes resguardado.
Cada institución financiera establece sus propios términos y condiciones para los distintos tipos de cuentas que ofrece, y tiene diversas clasificaciones para cada uno de sus productos. Un cliente puede tener más de una cuenta en una o varias instituciones al mismo tiempo, y en el caso de que exista más de una persona que tenga acceso a una misma cuenta, se conoce como "cuenta conjunta".
Sixth, try opening a virtual Mexican bank? You can look at Klar for example.
Seventh, perhaps try opening the BBVA app and opening an account with your phone. Then go to the bank for the card itself. Just an idea I read online. Not sure if this would work but maybe.
Eighth, I heard Intercam isn't too difficult compared to other options.
Let's wrap this up now.
Anything to Add?
To be fair, I have no experience whatsoever opening a bank account in another country.
I haven't even tried.
As I wrote here, you do have cases where banks literally rob money from their clients in certain Latin American countries.
Be it foreign or local Mexican clients.
There was a case years ago of a bunch of wealthy retired expats that lost millions because a bank literally stole from their accounts.
So I've never been too motivated to open an account down here.
Though, if I ever do get residency, I do think I'd open one just to keep a few thousand as, for those who don't know, it can be a pain in the ass if your debit card gets blocked or needs to be replaced while living abroad without a local job.
Still, from what I know from other American expats, it doesn't seem an issue for us to open a local bank account.
I have a friend named Blayde who got residency and has a local bank account.
No complaints from him on having his money stolen.
And no issues with trying to open a local bank account as an American.
Though, as you can see here, there are cases where Americans have had difficulty opening a bank account in another country like Panama due to, from what I understand, regulations imposed and enforced by the American government on our money abroad.
That's a bit different though from being from a country considered an "international pariah" and being sanctioned left and right from most of the more powerful countries on the planet.
Anyway, for those from countries like that, it's definitely a topic I have no personal experience with as I'm not from Russia, Iran, etc.
And maybe for expats from other countries too.
Just wanted to help a tiny bit for anyone experiencing this issue possibly.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
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Thanks for reading.