FBAR Due June 30th

For those of you who are US citizens and have money in any foreign banks totaling over $10,000 at any time in a calendar year, you are required to file the FBAR.  Go to: http://bsaefiling.fincen.treas.gov/NoRegFBARFiler.html

This year is the first time that you must file online.  You will need Adobe Reader program on your computer. Also, depending upon the browser you use, several hoops need to be jumped prior to you being able to submit the form.

I would suggest that you take a look now.

Avoid the Hassle With a Lost or Stolen Cedula

When we first received our cedulas we were advised by friends to make a good color copy, laminate it and carry that as your identification, keeping the original in a safe place. We did exactly that, only carrying our original when handling banking or legal matters like getting a power of attorney. Originals also needed to travel internationally as well.

San Clemente 5.30.2013 004

A friend of ours lost his wallet with his original cedula inside and was leaving the country, going back to Canada, in a few weeks time. We saw what a hassle he had getting a new cedula and were happy for the suggestion.

It is a big hassle having to come up with original documents to replace those that you used to get your residency approved. For us not having additional original documentation or a fast way to receive this documentation from the United States, it would cause us a great deal of anxiety to say the least. You need to recreate all the original documentation you needed when you originally applied. And you have to do it from here. Whew!

We found while living in Salinas that there were several places that had laminating machines by the municipal building and for as little as a dollar you could have a duplicate card made. Not sure where in Portoviejo this could be accomplished but I am sure there must be several places that have a laminating machine.

Social Security – Expat Information – Part 1

This will be a several part post about old and new requirements from the Social Security Administration as it relates to those of us living outside of the United States,

A form, Proof of Life, will be required from Social Security for folks living outside of the United States and receiving social security benefits. I will cover that form in the next article because it is such an important topic for those of us who rely on those funds for our existence, that I am not going to rush over the guidelines as they apply to us living out of the US.

First please read what Social Security has to say about using addresses in the United States if living in a foreign country for over three months.


Social Security Online  POMS Section: GN 02401.080


Effective Dates: 04/20/2004 – Present

TN 17 (04-04)

GN 02401.080 Use of United States Address by Beneficiary Abroad


A beneficiary abroad may use a U.S. mailing address when the beneficiary:

  • Has an APO/FPO address;
  • Has a representative payee in the U.S.; or
  • Will be abroad for 3 months or less.

The beneficiary must keep SSA advised of his residence address at all time for beneficiary contact and foreign enforcement purposes.


A beneficiary abroad may not use a mailing address in the U.S. when the beneficiary is:

  • In a barred country (RS 02650.001); or
  • Abroad for more than 3 months.

Checks for beneficiaries abroad more than 3 months may not be sent to a relative or friend in the U.S. except during interim periods while developing a proper mailing address.

A beneficiary living outside the U.S. may have a foreign address and direct deposit to a U.S. financial institution (FI). See GN 02402.110. See also International Direct Deposit, GN 02402.201.

See GN 02402.080 for the use of a Power of Attorney when International Direct Deposit is not available in the country of residence and the beneficiary wants checks mailed directly to an FI in the country of residence.


Banco del Barrio in San Jacinto

While in San Jacinto last week, I visited the pharmacy located near Marco’s Restaurant. There were two representatives of Banco de Guayaquil installing a Barrio Bank system on her counter. I was excited to say the least when the pharmacy owner told me you could get up to $300 at this machine and her business is open from 7am to 10pm…those are great banking hours.

This is a photo of the outside of the store and the stores staff. The store is pretty well stocked and Joe and I have found that this store has some different items than our favorite San Clemente pharmacy.

Before moving here my Banco de Guayaquil representative told me that there was a Barrio Bank in the one hardware store in San Jacinto, but I have never seen the store open. Yesterday while coming back from Portoviejo I finally saw the doors of the store open and there was the bank machine in full view on the counter. So we have two Barrio bank machines in Jacinto, wonders never cease!


Cooperativa de Ahorro Y Credito Microempresarial Sucre.  The short name is Co-op. This is the local cooperativa where we have an account.  San Clemente and San Jacinto have no banks, I was told that there is a Barrio Bank of Guayaquil but I have never seen the business open that has the Barrio Bank so having the Co-op so close is very nice for us.

The bank is located on the main road into the town of San Jacinto. They have an ATM and are open 7 days a week, talk about convenient.  Currently this coop is not national and there are four locations the one here in Jacinto and one in Cherapoto, Portoviejo and Rocafuerte. To open an account all you need is your passport once the bank goes national you will be required to have a cedula to open accounts. Their CD rates are unbelievable from $600 to $1,000 a one year CD yields 7%, 1,100 to 5,000 is 8%, from $5,100 to $25k is 9% with anything over $26k at 10%. They do have 3 month as well as 6 month CD’s at lower rates.

Sonia has been wonderful to work with. While opening our account they will open Google Translate and have you type your questions/answers.

NOTE: Some banks and cooperativas in Ecuador are insured by COSEDE (www.cosede.gob.ec) please check to see if you cooperativa or bank are on this list.

Banking in Playas

There are two banks and one cooperative located in Playas: Banco de Pichincha, Banco de Guayaquil and one cooperative plus an ATM machine for Banco Bolivariano. We have accounts with Banco de Guayaquil and for the past several weeks I have had some real issues with our on-line banking services. Because of this I have spent a great deal of time sitting with one of the Customer Service representatives at the Playas branch.  Maria Teresa has been so patient with me and my issues and is one of a very few staff members that speaks English. Between my basic Spanish and Maria Teresa’s English we have found a way to communicate effectively. She is now working with the technical department in Guayaquil to try to get my problems solved. Seems that it is not just my problem but a system issue so we wait to see how the technical department will solve this problem.

This is the smiling face I get to see each time I walk into the bank, it is genuine and sincere. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to work with folks that have such a good attitude towards their jobs and how they treat their customers. Maria Teresa is a very special young woman, she truly cares about how she presents herself, how she represents Banco de Guayaquil and handles herself in every situation, in a very competent manner. Kudos to her on her professionalism!

I just walked back in from my latest visit to the bank, today all the issues I had the past few weeks have been resolved. Thanks to the Technical Department in Guayaquil for their hard work and again to Maria Teresa for her wonderful customer service.

Monday Morning Running as Fast as I Can!

Monday is my morning for running around town between dropping off and picking up our laundry, stopping in the pharmacy for a few items, replacing our 5 gal containers of bottled water, stopping in the Agripac store for some heavy-duty insecticide because we have both big and little fast-moving ants that are driving both Joe and I nutzzzzzz, running into the bank for a little cash and finally making a stop in one of the bigger supermarkets to get my food shopping started for the week. It is a marathon morning like running a 5k race.

I switch back and forth between Super Tia and Gran Aki for my shopping. Each store has different items that I am interested in purchasing so I shop at both. With Tia you can sign up for a Tia card.

The red card is the one you give to the cashier when you are paying for your order, the blue card is used to transfer the points into cash and you use it to pay for your groceries. I had no idea until last month what this card was for but I got $20 worth of free groceries just for using my card.

I was handed this great beach umbrella this morning when I was leaving the store.  Can’t wait to try it out on the beach this week.

I had to go into the bank today. The banking system at Banco de Guayaquil is that upon entering the bank there is a machine that dispenses numbers for the tellers or customer service representatives for the services that you require. Before I could turn around from getting my ticket my number had already been called and they had moved on to the next number.  It was Monday morning, in the past I have waited for 25 to 35 minutes for my turn but today was completely different. I did not realize it until the machine was already two numbers past mine. The young man who I normally use saw my face as I held up my already passed number and motioned for me to wait behind the person he was serving. Years ago I gave up carrying a wallet and a big purse, I now carry a fabric zipper shoulder bag with my ID and cards held together with an elastic band. I know I must look like a bag lady to this young man, today he saw me fumbling yet again with my elastic band and cards and handed me this cute little card holder.

I felt like I won the jackpot in a lottery. Mine is a sweet little life with little joys from folks that you would never expect. I truly feel blessed, I love these Ecuadorian people they are just beautiful people.