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Any success getting bank account remotely?

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(@jordan_zimmerman)
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As far as I can tell, it's now impossible for someone to get a Portuguese bank account remotely. We've been waiting almost 3 months on Atlantico who tell us each time we call that we are in the final stages (we've been this way for 2 moths). My lawyer tells me that it's not possible to do with a power of attorney either. We decided to go ahead with the visa application anyway (we went to our local embassy in Panama last Monday). We showed the the Atlantico emails that show we're "in progress" and they didn't say anything so, I don't know. 

Thoughts? Advice? Are we going to get rejected?

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 Anonymous
Joined: 52 years ago

In 2017 we opened our own bank accounts and got out own  NIFs, transferred money with better rates than today, bought a car by ourselves, bought a house by ourselves, got house and car insurance, rode the train when we wanted and learned to acclimate without any help from any company charging us thousands of dollars. But we do understand that it is a pain in the neck for you to gather all your own documents then hand them over to these opportunists to put in an envelope and mail for you. I know its difficult but what worries me is all these companies taking advantage of people. That.s just my 2 cents worth. They want you to think that you can't do it yourself and they put you down and make it seem more difficult than it is. 

If you need & want help, it's great that there are so many companies who have posed up and will gladly help you.                                                                  If you want to do it yourself, Just follow instructions on the Embassy site.

@peggyL

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(@bonniem)
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I got my bank account remotely from the USA with Abanca after a scheduled Zoom call (during which  had to hold up my identifying documents next to my face so they could see it was really me). They then asked for much the same documents that the consulate in San Francisco required - source of income, bank statements from current accounts, copy of passport, proof of ID). They also asked why I wanted to obtain Portuguese residency. Then,  I sent them all via DHL (cheapest) to the bank branch along with documents the bank required (emailed to me) for my signature.  VERY IMPORTANT: Sign any documents EXACTLY the same as it is on your passport (no middle initial instead of full name, etc.). From start to end, including physically mailing documents, was about 12 or 13 days total.  After they established a bank account number, they emailed me the statement showing the number of my new account. At that point, I used Way.com to transfer funds from the USA to my new account. Don't know what the current $$ requirement is now for a SEF appointment this year, but I'm sure you can find out!  They sent my bank card to my address in the USA. No fees the first year, and then 5 euros per month after that.

Bonnie

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(@kkcwalton)
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@bonniem Hi Bonnie, Thanks very much for your post!  I've been trying to open an account with Milennium BCP since last November (2 weeks delay is my fault, but still...) it is taking forever.  Lots of requirements, poor online security and I'm not terribly impressed.  I'm going to take a look at Abanca after I finish typing this!

May I ask a couple of questions?  What year did you open your account?  It seems it was easier in the past.  Also, do you use their online banking?  If so, are you satisfied with it?  Can you make remote deposits?  Do they have lock boxes?

Thanks so much for your help.  Best regards, KK

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(@antonio_f)
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Posted by: @kkcwalton

Do they have lock boxes?

 

KK

If by lock boxes you mean a private safe in the bank to keep some values or documents, Abanca rents safes (info obtained in their website), but they might not have that service in all their portuguese branches. They charge a caução (safety deposit) of €150 + 23% VAT and a monthly value between €33,50 and €177,50 + 23% VAT, depending on the size of the safe.

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(@kkcwalton)
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@antonio_f Thank you Antonio and also for sending the link to the branches.  This makes me feel much more comfortable knowing there is a branch in "my" city.  Sincere thanks.

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(@bonniem)
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@kkcwalton  Hi KK

I opened my account in January of 2021. The same questions and problems seemed to be lurking online everywhere back then also. And, I have used my account to pay monthly rent in Portugal via a simple funds transfer. I use my Abanca card mainly to withdraw cash, but lots of people pay their phone and utilities with it too. Until I  decide where I want to buy a place, my utilities are included in my rent. As soon as I got my account number (sent to me via email directly from the bank), I just transferred money while still in California from my USA account (using routing and account numbers) directly into my new Portugal account. I used Way.com and have had excellent service with them and they hold the exchange rate for 48 hours. You can also designate how much and to whom you want funds transferred and have them hold a transfer until a particular rate of exchange is in effect and then it's automatically sent. Having your bank do it for you is normally a whole lot more expensive. I have been very happy with them!! Note: Just make sure that you sign any documents exactly as your signature is on your passport no matter which bank you use.  Didn't ask them about lock boxes, so you'll have to check on that yourself. And,  use a bank that has an English language option on their online site, otherwise it can be really confusing.

Hope you get it set up ok.

Good luck,

Bonnie

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(@kkcwalton)
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@bonniem Thanks very much for responding to my questions Bonnie.  It really helps to understand your experience and we really appreciate your recommendation.  I'm going to call the Abanca branch in Coimbra and see if they will open an account for us.  If that doesn't work, I'll just bring every private document I own to Portugal with us in February and show up in person to see if that does the trick.  The first bank that will open an account for us wins!  

We're connecting a group of Bay Area women together virtually to support each other through this wild ride.  If you'd like to join us please private message me and I'll make an introduction.

Many thanks, KK

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(@alleycat)
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This is inspiring Bonnie. May I ask if you compared banks and their reviews by users and why you chose Abanca?  Thank you.

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(@bonniem)
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@alleycat 

Lots of reasons.....Website in English as well a Portuguese, access to people who spoke good English in the bank offices, efficient and easy accessibility, very straightforward and responsive. I did look into other banks and thought they were just ambiguous and confusing and reviews said opening accounts took a long time and they kept asking for additional documents. Abanca was very clear the first time and got it done!!

So, there you go!!

You DO have to have your NIF, but I assume you already know that. You can't walk across the street without it in Portugal! 🙂

dBest of uck,

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(@bonniem)
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Sorry: Hit the wrong key....

I meant "Best of luck"

Bye,

Bonnie

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(@dance)
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@bonniem Hi Bonnie,

When did you open account in Abanca? Do you know if  this bank in every city in PT?

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(@antonio_f)
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@dance They have 70 branches in Portugal, mostly in the seaside regions:

https://www.abanca.pt/pt/balcoes/

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(@dance)
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(@bonniem)
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@dance I opened it a little more than a year ago. I just checked the bank branches in Porto, but I'm sure you can see more on their online page. Good luck!

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(@alleycat)
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@bonniem OK, sounds good. I'll look into them deeper. I also see a post after mine from kkcwalton, with great further questions that I too would love to hear your answers to, so I'll hope for your reply to their post and THANK YOU!   Are you from the Bay Area, as are we?

Allison 

 

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(@kkcwalton)
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@alleycat we're from the bay area. 😊

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(@alleycat)
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@kkcwalton Hi you two! I follow you around in the forum...we seem to be in similar mind sets with common questions/topics.

Would you mind if we do a "connection" with you for occasional chats?  

I hope we all find our way to our new PT homes this Spring/Summer and then we can get together! I know that you are Coimbra area bound and we are looking at Tomar, but maybe Coimbra area as well.  

Let me know, if so, I'll email you there.

Thanks, A & M

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(@kkcwalton)
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@alleycat we would love to!"  Thanks for setting it up.

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(@bonniem)
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@alleycat I started the process from Ventura, California!

Hope all works well for you.

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(@kkcwalton)
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@bonniem @antonio_f @alliej @dance I submitted the request for a new account from the form on Abanca's website this morning, and received a couple of notes from them.  Good service!  Unfortunately they are now requiring an in person appearance at a branch in Portugal to open an account.  They are only opening new accounts remotely for Portuguese Nationals and Residents.  I don't know if the EU or Portuguese banking laws have changed, but an in person visit and tons of paperwork  including acquisition of either a Hauge Apostille or a visit to the consulate is required to open a new account remotely from the US.

Unfortunately for us we don't want to submit for a Hague apostille as I understand it requires surrendering your passport for an unspecified period to them and we have a trip to Portgual coming up at the end of February.  A trip to the consulate is out for us as well as the East Coast snowstorm is keeping temperatures too dangerous to drive.  

The only other option I've found is to go to the Investor's Bank International Division in Newark, NJ.  They can open a Milennium BCP bank account at their branch, which can subsequently be transferred to a Portuguese branch when you're ready.  I've not completed this process with them as it would take $1000 round trip for us to fly there, so think we'll just wait until we're in Portugal.  We do intend to stage our funds with SpartanFX so they are ready to transfer as soon as we open the account.

It's worth contacting Investor's Bank in Newark to see if they can open an account remotely for you from the US.  We had already started the process in Lisbon through Ei! so couldn't complete it at the US branch.  Their phone is 973-344-1841.

Best of luck!

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(@dance)
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@kkcwalton Thank you your information! Good Luck to you as well!

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(@alleycat)
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@kkcwalton Seeing this, I notice that there is no mention of the requirement for non-residents, (KK, Allie, Dance) to have a "fiscal representative" to open an account on your behalf...which is where a PT agent comes in (Ei! or Bordr.). So kkcwalton, even if you are on a scout trip in Feb., I doubt whether you can get your own account while there.  Won't you still need to pay a visit to Ei! and hopefully they walk you into a Milennium branch to finalize your form signing, etc.?  Or maybe they will come through with the process before you leave.  It is frustrating.  I wonder how Bonnie was able to do it without a F. R. ...lucky timing or great Karma I suppose 🙂    I am supposing it can still be done remotely with a PT fiscal rep. and for their price.

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(@kkcwalton)
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@alleycat Good catch Allie.  We are working through Ei!.  The delay has not been on their side, but on Milennium's.  It took about 3 weeks for Milennium to respond to Ei!'s request to establish an account for us, then after I immediately turned around the paperwork requested, it took Milennium another 4-5 weeks to send the documents for signature (the holidays were in the middle).  We received the documents while we were at the start of a week's trip in early January, so needed to wait until we returned home for a printer, etc.  To complete the paperwork for Milennium, I had to catch the lady at the Lisbon branch on the phone for the password (3 calls without response), then sign all the documents they sent just so, then get either a Hague Apostille or go to the consulate for them to verify we are the actual signers of the documents.  Other reporters mention additional documents have been requested after this step in the past.

On return from our trip, I called Investor's Bank in NJ to see if they could help expedite (after several calls to retrieve the password with no luck).  They said they could help so I sent all our documents to them.  Amazingly, I received an immediate call from the woman I'm working with in the Lisbon office giving me options I didn't fully understand but I think it came down to who received the credit for bringing in the new account.  At any rate, I agreed for her to call the guy at Investor's Bank.  The net net is that we can go to Investor's Bank for our signatures, but that's as much trouble as going to the consulate, and the winter weather is just too cold for a 24 hour round trip drive -- and it's >$1000 to fly.  We aren't comfortable sending off our passports for the Hague Apostille, as we're leaving for Portugal in a month.  So I guess we'll just wait to sign the documents at the branch in Lisbon.

All in it looks like it's going to take about 3 months to open our account.

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(@kkcwalton)
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P.S. If I had to do it all over again, I'd call Investor's Bank first.  They were very professional, very responsive, and have all the right online security procedures in place.  I think the fact that I'd started the process in Lisbon is what tripped us up and I believe working with Investor's Bank would be much, much easier and faster.

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@kkcwalton Yikes! So sorry for that much rigamarole for you! I never heard of this process being so challenging, or that you had to be in distant cities to sign documents in person. 

Still confused about contacting Investor's Bank yourself (if you could do it all over again) or if we were to, without having a PT fiscal rep. with power of attorney doing it on your behalf?  We are just getting ready to get our NIF and bank acct. and you have us traumatized just hearing about your experience. We don't have a preliminary trip to PT planned, just want our D7 in hand when we go. We're in TX and are not going to drive to DC or New Jersey to sign documents either. Well, looks like we need to cross our fingers and hope to choose the best approach for our process.  

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(@bonniem)
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@alleycat  It may have changed, but when I got my D7 appointment (living in California), I had to go in person to San Francisco. Please note though that Washington DC at that time was allowing things to be processed via mail (no in-person required).You can just call the consulate in Washington DC to see if it has changed.
And, by the way, just so it's not more confused, the consulate has nothing to do with setting up your bank account....They just want to see that you have it and how much is in it. Your bank account proof documents are just included in the packet with the other stuff they require. It's all listed on their site.
I'm still trying to figure out the posting by kccwalton about the Hague Apostille?! Somehow the process is being made to sound far more complicated than it really is, but that's not to say it isn't confusing at first.

By the way, when you have the Criminal Background Check sent to you, DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE WHATEVER YOU DO. If you open it, that's when you really will need to get an apostille.

 

Bonnie

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(@kkcwalton)
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@alleycat Hey Allie, Sorry if I've traumatized you -- I guess I'm a little traumatized myself.  Let me try to clear this up a little...

First you have to have your NIF before you can open the bank account, and for that you do need a PT fiscal rep.  That's why we hired Ei! as we don't have anyone in country we can ask to provide that for us.

Second, why don't you just call Investor's Bank and talk with Edson?  Ask him if you need a fiscal rep in PT to open the bank account.  Ask him if you can open your account in the US completely remotely.  He indicated to us that we could open the account entirely remotely here in the US so it might be worth the 99 euro annual fee for the first year.  Once in PT you can change banks or whatever to lower your cost.  Ei! charges 100 euro to be the PT fiscal rep and initiate a bank account anyway, so it actually may be a little cheaper to go through Investor's, then change your branch (or bank!) once in PT.

Alternatively, if you have plenty of time, have Ei! start the process for you to open an account at Milennium BCP as they did for us.  Just expect weeks to pass before the bank responds with the initial documents.  Insist they use encrypted email or a secure method to send documents back and forth (Google provides this -- just google it).  After you upload your first set of documents, expect weeks to go by before you receive the next set of documents to sign.  Once you sign those -- I get a little fuzzy after this as this is as far as I've actually gotten in the process -- ask Milennium what to do next.  I believe it is to acquire either a Hague Apostille or visit a Portuguese Embassy to sign the documents in front of them so they can verify you are legitimate.  I believe the Hague Apostille can be acquired via mail, but I think you have to send in your passports with your documentation -- so no international travel for you during that time.  After that you return the documents to Milennium via DHL  and probably wait a few more weeks before they either ask you for more documents or send you your bank account.  One person posted they had to send in a couple of years tax returns before the bank would open their account.   So you can go this route, just do everything exactly as they tell you, expect it to take a lot of time and prepare to practice extreme patience.

Guess this is our introduction to PT bureaucracy!  LOL. 

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(@bonniem)
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@alleycat Hi,,,this is Bonnie! you can get your NIF online yourself. You just give whoever you chose to do it a signed power of attorney (that they send you via email) and they will send you a copy of a form back that shows your NIF number when they get it. Mine took about 10 days or so and $150 transferred to them via Way.com. Present that form to the bank. Fees vary widely. I hear Bordr is good, but they weren't around when I was researching.The bank needs a NIF number before they'll do anything. When I heard how much some companies were charging just for the NIF (around $500) I very quickly got very good at researching how to do it on my own. If you go to Portugal before your D7 approval, just do it there by yourself, but don't make a special trip for it! Expatseverywhere.com has some excellent videos that pretty much walk you through the whole process. Great people!!

Bonnie

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(@alleycat)
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@bonniem Hi Bonnie, thank you so much for your details...I'm a pretty diligent researcher...spend all my spare time trying to get our ducks in a row for making this expat move.  I have learned most of everything you mentioned and of bordr and Josh & Kalie. We are happy to know that we can do our D7 application via mail with the DC consulate and we know NOT to open the FBI report envelope! Thanks for these reminders ;-).  You intrigued me to learn about Abanca bank, but the part that tripped me up was you saying you got your bank acct. yourself without a fiscal representative (w/power of attny.) from PT, or did you in fact have one?  I'm of the impression it is now a requirement in order to both get a NIF and a bank account, no? Maybe it's just for the NIF.  It sounds like Abanca has changed their policy for opening accounts remotely by non-nationals or residents at this point anyway, so we'll pick a good rep to help us with the NIF and look into the bank account a little deeper.   You are a successful DIYer...any tales on how you found your initial abode? Although, you probably weren't required to get an advance 12 month lease in your application...like we must now. Glad it went so well for you. 

Thanks for your time, you have provided good food for thought.

AJ

 

 

 

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(@bonniem)
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@alleycat Hi! I got my apartment via idealista.pt

 

At the time I only needed a 6 month contract and was lucky to find an apartment owned by a couple of Portuguese university professors.  The husband speaks fluent English and his wife is quite good too. I was very determined to find an apartment that included all the utilities so I didn't have to deal with companies myself and hope someone showed up for connections, etc. They emailed me the contract, I signed it and emailed it back. Then I transferred the required deposit and first (and maybe last) month's rent via Way.com. Make sure you get their information too and get a a receipt each month. Then I just do bank to bank transfers from my Portuguese account to theirs and it's quite easy. I have a view of the river in Porto, 130 TV channels, WiFi, water, heat, lights, furnishings and kitchen equipment included.  And they wash and iron all my towels and bedding twice a month in the price.It's a large studio right above the Ponto Luis Bridge and close to everything. 580 euros a month.

Some people use Properstar, but I didn't find much with it....just my experience. Both are good, I'm sure.

And, yes, you need a NIF, bank account (don't know how much SEF requires this year for deposit), and rental contract. I got my NIF with a rep, but after I got it, I sent her a bit of money to set up my bank account and never heard from her again. Be verrrry careful. I didn't lose a lot and I figured the NIF was the most important as you can't do anything without it, so it was still ok. Karma will catch up to her anyway some day. DO NOT USE Maria Neves if you see her  advertise online or on social media sites.

You can do it all yourself with a bit of determination.  

Bonnie

 

 

 

 

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(@bonniem)
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Hmmmm...Well, all I can tell you is that I didn't encounter any of that and got my account set up easily in a very short time.

I will say, though, that I would make absolutely certain that the USA branch they will in fact establish an account number in Portugal for your money to be transferred to. And, the way things work in Portugal, you may want to contact them via phone personally rather than just filling out an online form. As I mentioned in my original post, the bank did a Zoom call with me and I held up my passport and drivers license to prove it was me and then I sent (via DHL) the paperwork they needed. I only had to go to the consulate in San Francisco after I had everything in place (NIF, bank account, rental contract, etc). No Hague Apostille was ever mentioned. I put money in the account via Way.com. It was all quite trouble-free and the cost was zero, but rules may be different this year.

I don't know how much you have to pay to have someone else set up an account, but I like "zero" better. :). Best of luck with it!!

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(@dance)
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@bonniem Thank you! What is the full name of this bank if you don’t mind to share?

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(@bonniem)
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ABANCA. It's. Spanish bank with branches in Portugal.

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(@dance)
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@bonniem Thank you, I will try any way and see what’s happened.

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(@dance)
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@bonniem I just want to thank you again. I call Investment bank and they talked me when I have my NIF (I am in the process now) I will call them and they will send paperwork for me to fill it out and they will forward it to the bank, after approval I just need to come to the bank location and signed it.

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