updated 2:57 PM CEST, Sep 21, 2023

American Citizens Abroad's U.S.-citizen-friendly bank account marks 3-year anniversary

In March 2016, after years of lobbying U.S. government officials over the problems that American expats had been having in being able to get bank accounts and mortgages while abroad, the American Citizens Abroad organisation announced a partnership with the State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) to provide such expats with US-citizen-friendly banking services.

The ACA said it had developed the ACA/SDFCU Account, as it is called, in cooperation with the SDFCU. It is designed to give ordinary American expats a full range of banking services without their needing to provide either a US address or be affiliated with a government agency.

The scheme is now marking its third year of helping American expats with their banking needs. 

Origins in FATCA

The ACA/SDFCU scheme had its origins in a little-noticed piece of legislation that was signed into law, buried in a domestic jobs bill known as the HIRE Act, in March, 2010. Almost within days of President Obama's signing of the HIRE Act – and thus the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act – into law, Americans around the world began to struggle to get, and even keep, bank accounts. 

Financial institutions around the world suddenly couldn't get rid of their American clients fast enough, as they scrambled to avoid the costly and time-consuming need to report these individuals’ bank account details to the US authorities, which as FATCA would oblige them to do.

“As an organisation, we identified a pressing need in the overseas community, and have worked with our friends at the State Department Federal Credit Union to arrive at a win-win solution,” ACA executive director Marylouise Serrato said in 2016, when the service was announced. 

Thousands seen affected

While the exact number of overseas Americans who are unable to maintain banking services back home wasn't known at the time FATCA was introduced, and is still a largely open question, the ACA said at the time it launched the banking service with the SDFCU that "thousands" were thought to be affected, and therefore stood to benefit from ACA and the SDFCU partnering to offer these accounts.

Officially the U.S. State Department estimates that as many as 8.7 million Americans lives outside of the U.S.

One of the problems many Americans living abroad face is that they typically need a US bank account to pay bills for an elderly parent back in the U.S.; pay school fees for a child who is in school in the US; make tax payments, and otherwise carry out dozens of other normal, everyday banking transactions.

A U.S. bank account also makes it easier to maintain an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or other deferred compensation arrangement. It also simplifies investing in many types of mutual funds.

“These accounts will allow Americans living abroad to more easily conduct financial transactions by gaining access to e-banking access, financial planning services, IRAs, Share Certificates, and much more,” the ACA said, in unveiling its new ACA/SDFCU Accounts.

Those wishing to obtain one of the ACA/SDFCU's bank accounts are told to begin by signing up for ACA membership, which is done via the organization's website.

More information about the ACA/SDFCU's bank account for expats may be found on the ACA's website, by clicking here.

The ACA is based in Rockville, Maryland, and is an advocacy organisation that works to help expat Americans. Its sister entity, the American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation, is a tax-exempt, public charitable organisation which focuses on educating members of the public and Government officials and staff about Americans abroad and their needs.