so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

For investors outside the US. Personal investments, personal finance, investing news and theory.
Sister forums: Canada, Spain (en español)
---------------
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

What are you talking about. I literally said "You're right that US-based credit cards would have to have some activities to avoid closures." and you respond with "So, you need to keep your US credit cards." I don't understand what you thought I was implying. No one said or implied to go ahead and close US accounts.
crswvc
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:27 am

Re: llc

Post by crswvc »

Sounds like a ”family office” type of company.
Perhaps you would be a fit for a virtual private family office.
User avatar
galeno
Posts: 2317
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:06 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by galeno »

If you are not a "US person" (citizen, legal resident, or illegal alien LIVING in the USA) my advice and many others on non-USA Bogleheads would tell you to stay away from the USA.

By its laws it's obvious that the USA does NOT like non-US investors who invest in financial assets. Bank accounts, US treasuries, and RE are OK. But not stocks and bonds.
KISS & STC.
SecondLifeExplorer
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed May 12, 2021 11:12 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by SecondLifeExplorer »

I have not seen any answers regarding whether someone has investigated the original inquiry's solution. I have recently spoken to several brokers, including both Vanguard and Schwab and neither will hold assets unless one has a domestic physical address. In the case of Vanguard, one simply cannot be a non-resident of the U.S....period. For Schwab, one can live overseas but must maintain a U.S. residence. Of course, I did not tell either of these who I was for all the reasons already discussed. However, because some of my assets are incredibly difficult to move, I really do not want to take a chance of moving my assets only to have a problem arise while I'm overseas and need to find a way to move them again. I have heard stories even of accounts being closed on expats while they were away and a check sent. Citibank does currently allow one to have accounts without a U.S. residence, but given all I've heard, I am hesitant to have all my assets in one brokerage. Sooo...with all that said, has anyone looked into moving their assets into an LLC as a potential solution? Did I miss the actual answer to that question?
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

SecondLifeExplorer wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 11:22 pm I have not seen any answers regarding whether someone has investigated the original inquiry's solution. I have recently spoken to several brokers, including both Vanguard and Schwab and neither will hold assets unless one has a domestic physical address. In the case of Vanguard, one simply cannot be a non-resident of the U.S....period. For Schwab, one can live overseas but must maintain a U.S. residence. Of course, I did not tell either of these who I was for all the reasons already discussed. However, because some of my assets are incredibly difficult to move, I really do not want to take a chance of moving my assets only to have a problem arise while I'm overseas and need to find a way to move them again. I have heard stories even of accounts being closed on expats while they were away and a check sent. Citibank does currently allow one to have accounts without a U.S. residence, but given all I've heard, I am hesitant to have all my assets in one brokerage. Sooo...with all that said, has anyone looked into moving their assets into an LLC as a potential solution? Did I miss the actual answer to that question?
Yes I answered...

Nolo seems able to set one up for $99 + state fees. A US address is required. If you have a US address, why not simply open a brokerage account at that address. If you don't have a US address, you could use a registered agent at $49 or so per year.

Not 100% sure on taxation, but I believe income will "pass through" to your personal tax return unless you incorporate.

And I will add... States have various filing requirements which will add to the cost. This is just much more complicated than using a brokerage like Schwab International )which I think you didn’t try because there is no requirement to have a US address ... of course it depends on your country of residence).

I stopped considering it as I wasn’t sure how LLC income would get taxed in my country of residence. There’s no tax documentation in English so here comes another expense.

If Schwab International or Interactive Brokers can’t help me, that’s my next step though. As of now, I personally am ok.
SecondLifeExplorer
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed May 12, 2021 11:12 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by SecondLifeExplorer »

Actually, Schwab International told me they required a physical address, as I thought I mentioned. I will make a third pass with them (I've spoken with two reps) in case there is some sort of disconnect in the information I'm receiving. I do not have a U.S. address that I will be keep when I go back overseas and my friends/family are all in CA. I do not want to open that can of worms :-). I will look further into the registered agent option. Sorry. I do not know much about that, as it pertains to personal finances as opposed to a business. I also have a couple investments that are very hard to move, so this is kind of nightmare and I don't want to ever have to do it again. I'll be curious if you're able to do it with Schwab.
SecondLifeExplorer
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed May 12, 2021 11:12 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by SecondLifeExplorer »

btw, that's a good point about the country of residence potentially taxing the LLC revenue differently than the U.S. does :-(
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

SecondLifeExplorer wrote: Thu May 13, 2021 10:43 pm Actually, Schwab International told me they required a physical address, as I thought I mentioned. I will make a third pass with them (I've spoken with two reps) in case there is some sort of disconnect in the information I'm receiving. I do not have a U.S. address that I will be keep when I go back overseas and my friends/family are all in CA. I do not want to open that can of worms :-). I will look further into the registered agent option. Sorry. I do not know much about that, as it pertains to personal finances as opposed to a business. I also have a couple investments that are very hard to move, so this is kind of nightmare and I don't want to ever have to do it again. I'll be curious if you're able to do it with Schwab.
Aaah, yeah Schwab International does require a physical address but it can be your foreign address. That’s what I used to open my account.

You don’t need a US physical address to do so.

I expect no trouble moving assets out of Schwab International as long as I have someplace (another US broker) to move them too. But I only hold US ETFs, some TIPS and brokered CDs.
sfnerd
Posts: 285
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:16 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by sfnerd »

cbeck wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:59 am
Marseille07 wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 12:34 am
cbeck wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:54 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 5:59 pm
cbeck wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 5:52 pm I don't think you could open a new bank account claiming a hotel as your legal residence. The last time I opened a bank account I had to send a utility bill with my name and address to verify my US residence. But it's up to the bank or brokerage to decide whether you qualify as a US resident or not.
Yeah, I don't intend to open new accounts but here is the problem. If / when financial institutions demand proof of residence for whatever reason, your hotel bill might not be the strongest evidence for verification.
So, it goes without saying that you have to load yourself up with multiple brokerage accounts, bank accounts, and US credit cards before expatting, because you cannot count on being able to open any of those once you have left. Two of each I would say, at least, and four or five credit cards, that don't charge a foreign exchange fee. Then you have to make sure there is activity on each one of those accounts all the time so they don't close it on you. I was able to get a credit card from Capital One after expatting. I was also able to open an account at the only bank or credit union that I am aware is willing to open an account for an expat, State Department Federal Credit Union. SDFCU is now my preferred bank.
My approach would be somewhat different in that I would intend to open a bank account and possibly get a domestic credit card abroad denominated by their local currency. You're right that US-based credit cards would have to have some activities to avoid closures.

Technically speaking, CC and a checking account offered by the same institution can detect someone being abroad; though I'm not sure if anyone ran into issues of this nature.
More bad ideas. Credit cards in many foreign countries are not comparable to US credit cards. Here in Thailand, for example, credit cards do not have any fraud protection. You are on the hook for all charges unless the bank agrees to waive a charge at their discretion. There are no "rewards" on Thai credit cards, as far as I am aware, but I don't have one, because I would never be willing to assume the fraud risk. So, you need to keep your US credit cards.

Of course, you will need a local bank account, but you will also need US bank accounts to pay your US credit card bills, your US income tax or receive a refund, receive your SS benefits in the future, etc. And you need more than one US bank, credit card, brokerage firm, etc., because they can close your account at any time. When you expat it is like going into the desert where you have to bring all the water you will need for the rest of your life, except that in this case we're talking about financial services, not water.

You don't know enough about your future needs as an expat to be making decisions. You should find a forum with US expats living in the country you are thinking of moving to and find out what problems they are facing.
Just one correction: there are many Thai credit cards with fraud protection and rewards. I have one by Citibank, and there are quite a few from other banks. However I agree that it's a really good idea to have two of everything in the US before you go abroad.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

SecondLifeExplorer wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 11:22 pm I have not seen any answers regarding whether someone has investigated the original inquiry's solution. I have recently spoken to several brokers, including both Vanguard and Schwab and neither will hold assets unless one has a domestic physical address. In the case of Vanguard, one simply cannot be a non-resident of the U.S....period. For Schwab, one can live overseas but must maintain a U.S. residence. Of course, I did not tell either of these who I was for all the reasons already discussed. However, because some of my assets are incredibly difficult to move, I really do not want to take a chance of moving my assets only to have a problem arise while I'm overseas and need to find a way to move them again. I have heard stories even of accounts being closed on expats while they were away and a check sent. Citibank does currently allow one to have accounts without a U.S. residence, but given all I've heard, I am hesitant to have all my assets in one brokerage. Sooo...with all that said, has anyone looked into moving their assets into an LLC as a potential solution? Did I miss the actual answer to that question?
I don't think you missed it, but there was someone on a different thread talking about having an LLC in the US. The trick is, this person has a family member in the US and presumably using their address. If you don't have such an option then I'm not sure what can be done.
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

Marseille07 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 1:01 am
SecondLifeExplorer wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 11:22 pm I have not seen any answers regarding whether someone has investigated the original inquiry's solution. I have recently spoken to several brokers, including both Vanguard and Schwab and neither will hold assets unless one has a domestic physical address. In the case of Vanguard, one simply cannot be a non-resident of the U.S....period. For Schwab, one can live overseas but must maintain a U.S. residence. Of course, I did not tell either of these who I was for all the reasons already discussed. However, because some of my assets are incredibly difficult to move, I really do not want to take a chance of moving my assets only to have a problem arise while I'm overseas and need to find a way to move them again. I have heard stories even of accounts being closed on expats while they were away and a check sent. Citibank does currently allow one to have accounts without a U.S. residence, but given all I've heard, I am hesitant to have all my assets in one brokerage. Sooo...with all that said, has anyone looked into moving their assets into an LLC as a potential solution? Did I miss the actual answer to that question?
I don't think you missed it, but there was someone on a different thread talking about having an LLC in the US. The trick is, this person has a family member in the US and presumably using their address. If you don't have such an option then I'm not sure what can be done.
I believe you can rent an address and use a “registered agent” to answer questions on behalf of your LLC.

But in addition to those two costs, there are also State filing fees (perhaps yearly).

I don’t believe you’d need a family member with such an address. And again, if you can use your family’s address, why would you go to the trouble of forming an LLC? Just open a normal brokerage account if your goal is to simply invest. Most invest without forming an LLC because it’s easier and cheaper.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

typical.investor wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 1:08 am
Marseille07 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 1:01 am
SecondLifeExplorer wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 11:22 pm I have not seen any answers regarding whether someone has investigated the original inquiry's solution. I have recently spoken to several brokers, including both Vanguard and Schwab and neither will hold assets unless one has a domestic physical address. In the case of Vanguard, one simply cannot be a non-resident of the U.S....period. For Schwab, one can live overseas but must maintain a U.S. residence. Of course, I did not tell either of these who I was for all the reasons already discussed. However, because some of my assets are incredibly difficult to move, I really do not want to take a chance of moving my assets only to have a problem arise while I'm overseas and need to find a way to move them again. I have heard stories even of accounts being closed on expats while they were away and a check sent. Citibank does currently allow one to have accounts without a U.S. residence, but given all I've heard, I am hesitant to have all my assets in one brokerage. Sooo...with all that said, has anyone looked into moving their assets into an LLC as a potential solution? Did I miss the actual answer to that question?
I don't think you missed it, but there was someone on a different thread talking about having an LLC in the US. The trick is, this person has a family member in the US and presumably using their address. If you don't have such an option then I'm not sure what can be done.
I believe you can rent an address and use a “registered agent” to answer questions on behalf of your LLC.

But in addition to those two costs, there are also State filing fees (perhaps yearly).

I don’t believe you’d need a family member with such an address. And again, if you can use your family’s address, why would you go to the trouble of forming an LLC? Just open a normal brokerage account if your goal is to simply invest. Most invest without forming an LLC because it’s easier and cheaper.
I just found the post I was referring to. Not sure if it makes a difference in this context but it was an S-corp, not an LLC: viewtopic.php?p=5864597#p5864597

How do you "rent an address" though? Unless you're talking about something like PMB, I'm not aware of services letting you use their street address. I know realtors & property managers might, but I wouldn't consider these options being readily available.
comeinvest
Posts: 377
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by comeinvest »

The problem was mentioned earlier in this thread, but I can't figure out a solution to this one:

Suppose I want to minimize my risk of investment account getting closed now or in the future, by leaving no trail of foreign connections.

So I keep my U.S. address, I use a home VPN that shows the IP of my U.S. house, I use a U.S. phone, but I still have to do the 2-factor authentication which nowadays is usually via an app installed on the phone, which might require location service to be turned on.

My understanding is that I can connect to the VPN from my phone so it would have a U.S. IP, but what about the 2-factor? Also, can the app on the phone possibly know that I use a VPN? Also, as the app is usually permanently installed on the phone and may be active in the background, I would have to be permanently connected to the VPN, not just when I log in, right? Which would be operationally hard to implement. Or else the computer login would often show an IP in a different continent from that of the app - wouldn't look good would it?

If not already, I can imagine it's just a matter of time until data from the 2-factor app (which is often also the trading app) will be used to track the customers in the name of fraud prevention.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

deleted
Last edited by Marseille07 on Wed Jun 16, 2021 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

comeinvest wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:57 pm The problem was mentioned earlier in this thread, but I can't figure out a solution to this one:

Suppose I want to minimize my risk of investment account getting closed now or in the future, by leaving no trail of foreign connections.

So I keep my U.S. address, I use a home VPN that shows the IP of my U.S. house, I use a U.S. phone, but I still have to do the 2-factor authentication which nowadays is usually via an app installed on the phone, which might require location service to be turned on.

My understanding is that I can connect to the VPN from my phone so it would have a U.S. IP, but what about the 2-factor? Also, can the app on the phone possibly know that I use a VPN? Also, as the app is usually permanently installed on the phone and may be active in the background, I would have to be permanently connected to the VPN, not just when I log in, right? Which would be operationally hard to implement. Or else the computer login would often show an IP in a different continent from that of the app - wouldn't look good would it?

If not already, I can imagine it's just a matter of time until data from the 2-factor app (which is often also the trading app) will be used to track the customers in the name of fraud prevention.
There is no way in principle that you can protect yourself from having your account closed. At any time, for instance after the next 9/11 event, your financial institution can become suspicious and demand to see your electric bill. Game over. Or they can demand that you turn on location reporting in your browser or in their smartphone app. Some of they banking apps already demand location reporting now for certain transactions such as transfers. Could become a requirement for all access and then, game over.

A VPN isn't the only way to detect your foreign location. USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure. Also, if you think your VPN is protecting you go to whoer.net which will identify the information that your VPN is currently leaking right now. You can fix all of those leaks, but only with some inconvenience. For instance, they can detect if the clock on your computer is showing a time that does not match the time zone of your ip. So, you could fix that by setting your pc to the Eastern Time Zone, for example, but that is a nuisance.

The only way to protect yourself is by having accounts with multiple brokers in the hopes that they are not equally diligent. Then if one broker locks your account you can transfer those accounts to another broker. If you don't have another broker you are SOL.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure.
Yeah, this is the risk of PMB. While PMB gives you a street address, it is a *commercial* address not residential. They can look up USPS's database to find that out.

How did you avoid the account closure, if you did?
comeinvest
Posts: 377
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by comeinvest »

cbeck wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm
comeinvest wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:57 pm The problem was mentioned earlier in this thread, but I can't figure out a solution to this one:

Suppose I want to minimize my risk of investment account getting closed now or in the future, by leaving no trail of foreign connections.

So I keep my U.S. address, I use a home VPN that shows the IP of my U.S. house, I use a U.S. phone, but I still have to do the 2-factor authentication which nowadays is usually via an app installed on the phone, which might require location service to be turned on.

My understanding is that I can connect to the VPN from my phone so it would have a U.S. IP, but what about the 2-factor? Also, can the app on the phone possibly know that I use a VPN? Also, as the app is usually permanently installed on the phone and may be active in the background, I would have to be permanently connected to the VPN, not just when I log in, right? Which would be operationally hard to implement. Or else the computer login would often show an IP in a different continent from that of the app - wouldn't look good would it?

If not already, I can imagine it's just a matter of time until data from the 2-factor app (which is often also the trading app) will be used to track the customers in the name of fraud prevention.
There is no way in principle that you can protect yourself from having your account closed. At any time, for instance after the next 9/11 event, your financial institution can become suspicious and demand to see your electric bill. Game over. Or they can demand that you turn on location reporting in your browser or in their smartphone app. Some of they banking apps already demand location reporting now for certain transactions such as transfers. Could become a requirement for all access and then, game over.

A VPN isn't the only way to detect your foreign location. USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure. Also, if you think your VPN is protecting you go to whoer.net which will identify the information that your VPN is currently leaking right now. You can fix all of those leaks, but only with some inconvenience. For instance, they can detect if the clock on your computer is showing a time that does not match the time zone of your ip. So, you could fix that by setting your pc to the Eastern Time Zone, for example, but that is a nuisance.

The only way to protect yourself is by having accounts with multiple brokers in the hopes that they are not equally diligent. Then if one broker locks your account you can transfer those accounts to another broker. If you don't have another broker you are SOL.
Understood, but all the other items that you mentioned are relatively trivial for me and for some others, except the cell phone location service. I am looking for ideas or input for this specifically.
comeinvest
Posts: 377
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by comeinvest »

cbeck wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm
comeinvest wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:57 pm The problem was mentioned earlier in this thread, but I can't figure out a solution to this one:

Suppose I want to minimize my risk of investment account getting closed now or in the future, by leaving no trail of foreign connections.

So I keep my U.S. address, I use a home VPN that shows the IP of my U.S. house, I use a U.S. phone, but I still have to do the 2-factor authentication which nowadays is usually via an app installed on the phone, which might require location service to be turned on.

My understanding is that I can connect to the VPN from my phone so it would have a U.S. IP, but what about the 2-factor? Also, can the app on the phone possibly know that I use a VPN? Also, as the app is usually permanently installed on the phone and may be active in the background, I would have to be permanently connected to the VPN, not just when I log in, right? Which would be operationally hard to implement. Or else the computer login would often show an IP in a different continent from that of the app - wouldn't look good would it?

If not already, I can imagine it's just a matter of time until data from the 2-factor app (which is often also the trading app) will be used to track the customers in the name of fraud prevention.
There is no way in principle that you can protect yourself from having your account closed. At any time, for instance after the next 9/11 event, your financial institution can become suspicious and demand to see your electric bill. Game over. Or they can demand that you turn on location reporting in your browser or in their smartphone app. Some of they banking apps already demand location reporting now for certain transactions such as transfers. Could become a requirement for all access and then, game over.

A VPN isn't the only way to detect your foreign location. USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure. Also, if you think your VPN is protecting you go to whoer.net which will identify the information that your VPN is currently leaking right now. You can fix all of those leaks, but only with some inconvenience. For instance, they can detect if the clock on your computer is showing a time that does not match the time zone of your ip. So, you could fix that by setting your pc to the Eastern Time Zone, for example, but that is a nuisance.

The only way to protect yourself is by having accounts with multiple brokers in the hopes that they are not equally diligent. Then if one broker locks your account you can transfer those accounts to another broker. If you don't have another broker you are SOL.
Understood, but all the other items that you mentioned are relatively trivial for me and for some others (the computer can be a remote machine), except the cell phone location service. I am looking for ideas or input for this specifically. I am not currently outside the U.S., but I want to travel later this year and travel longer in the future and be well prepared, and came across this thread. It's a pain that we have to go through this silly cat-and-mouse game nowadays, although we do nothing illegal, but to play this game it's better to know the rules and the ins and outs beforehand.

If I turn off GPS on the phone, and connect via VPN, will the location service show the location of the VPN? Is there a way for an Android app to detect if GPS is on or off?
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

comeinvest wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 10:36 pm
cbeck wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm
comeinvest wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:57 pm The problem was mentioned earlier in this thread, but I can't figure out a solution to this one:

Suppose I want to minimize my risk of investment account getting closed now or in the future, by leaving no trail of foreign connections.

So I keep my U.S. address, I use a home VPN that shows the IP of my U.S. house, I use a U.S. phone, but I still have to do the 2-factor authentication which nowadays is usually via an app installed on the phone, which might require location service to be turned on.

My understanding is that I can connect to the VPN from my phone so it would have a U.S. IP, but what about the 2-factor? Also, can the app on the phone possibly know that I use a VPN? Also, as the app is usually permanently installed on the phone and may be active in the background, I would have to be permanently connected to the VPN, not just when I log in, right? Which would be operationally hard to implement. Or else the computer login would often show an IP in a different continent from that of the app - wouldn't look good would it?

If not already, I can imagine it's just a matter of time until data from the 2-factor app (which is often also the trading app) will be used to track the customers in the name of fraud prevention.
There is no way in principle that you can protect yourself from having your account closed. At any time, for instance after the next 9/11 event, your financial institution can become suspicious and demand to see your electric bill. Game over. Or they can demand that you turn on location reporting in your browser or in their smartphone app. Some of they banking apps already demand location reporting now for certain transactions such as transfers. Could become a requirement for all access and then, game over.

A VPN isn't the only way to detect your foreign location. USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure. Also, if you think your VPN is protecting you go to whoer.net which will identify the information that your VPN is currently leaking right now. You can fix all of those leaks, but only with some inconvenience. For instance, they can detect if the clock on your computer is showing a time that does not match the time zone of your ip. So, you could fix that by setting your pc to the Eastern Time Zone, for example, but that is a nuisance.

The only way to protect yourself is by having accounts with multiple brokers in the hopes that they are not equally diligent. Then if one broker locks your account you can transfer those accounts to another broker. If you don't have another broker you are SOL.
Understood, but all the other items that you mentioned are relatively trivial for me and for some others (the computer can be a remote machine), except the cell phone location service. I am looking for ideas or input for this specifically. I am not currently outside the U.S., but I want to travel later this year and travel longer in the future and be well prepared, and came across this thread. It's a pain that we have to go through this silly cat-and-mouse game nowadays, although we do nothing illegal, but to play this game it's better to know the rules and the ins and outs beforehand.

If I turn off GPS on the phone, and connect via VPN, will the location service show the location of the VPN? Is there a way for an Android app to detect if GPS is on or off?
Cat and mouse it is. I think there is no way to assuredly do what you want.

That said, I don’t believe most financial institutions try to detect where you are. My account was frozen at Vanguard because I (didn’t know these things yet) requested a foreign mailing address (keeping the main address at a US relative’s). Prior to that, I accessed freely from overseas without trouble.

Some institutions block access from overseas, so you need a VPN.

As for a phone, I use Anveo which has short code SMS for 2FA but sometimes it depends on implementation. My son’s sprint account has foreign roaming so he can get codes overseas. That might be the best way, but at $40/month is expensive for just that purpose.

YouTube.tv and Netflix both easily detect my VPN, while Hulu doesn’t. It’s really cat and mouse here and the point is that what works today may or may not tomorrow. Youtube.tv and Netflix used to work and Hulu used not to. It’s the opposite of now. Financial firms don’t seem nearly as aggressive on detection but again who knows.

As for checking via location services, I haven’t seen any requirements to have it on.

In general, if I had a US address where I had a utility bill in my name, I would not worry. That is what they will ask for if there is doubt.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

deleted
Last edited by Marseille07 on Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
comeinvest
Posts: 377
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by comeinvest »

typical.investor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:18 pm Cat and mouse it is. I think there is no way to assuredly do what you want.

That said, I don’t believe most financial institutions try to detect where you are. My account was frozen at Vanguard because I (didn’t know these things yet) requested a foreign mailing address (keeping the main address at a US relative’s). Prior to that, I accessed freely from overseas without trouble.

Some institutions block access from overseas, so you need a VPN.

As for a phone, I use Anveo which has short code SMS for 2FA but sometimes it depends on implementation. My son’s sprint account has foreign roaming so he can get codes overseas. That might be the best way, but at $40/month is expensive for just that purpose.

YouTube.tv and Netflix both easily detect my VPN, while Hulu doesn’t. It’s really cat and mouse here and the point is that what works today may or may not tomorrow. Youtube.tv and Netflix used to work and Hulu used not to. It’s the opposite of now. Financial firms don’t seem nearly as aggressive on detection but again who knows.

As for checking via location services, I haven’t seen any requirements to have it on.

In general, if I had a US address where I had a utility bill in my name, I would not worry. That is what they will ask for if there is doubt.
Great that you had no problems with Vanguard so far, but I would not downplay this issue based on one anecdotal experience. The internet expat discussion forums are full of stories where "risk departments" of U.S. brokers close investment accounts for life with no warning and no recourse, and the brokers will not give any reason for it and you won't be able to talk to anyone. Many experienced this shortly after logging in from another country.
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

comeinvest wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:27 pm
typical.investor wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:18 pm Cat and mouse it is. I think there is no way to assuredly do what you want.

That said, I don’t believe most financial institutions try to detect where you are. My account was frozen at Vanguard because I (didn’t know these things yet) requested a foreign mailing address (keeping the main address at a US relative’s). Prior to that, I accessed freely from overseas without trouble.

Some institutions block access from overseas, so you need a VPN.

As for a phone, I use Anveo which has short code SMS for 2FA but sometimes it depends on implementation. My son’s sprint account has foreign roaming so he can get codes overseas. That might be the best way, but at $40/month is expensive for just that purpose.

YouTube.tv and Netflix both easily detect my VPN, while Hulu doesn’t. It’s really cat and mouse here and the point is that what works today may or may not tomorrow. Youtube.tv and Netflix used to work and Hulu used not to. It’s the opposite of now. Financial firms don’t seem nearly as aggressive on detection but again who knows.

As for checking via location services, I haven’t seen any requirements to have it on.

In general, if I had a US address where I had a utility bill in my name, I would not worry. That is what they will ask for if there is doubt.
Great that you had no problems with Vanguard so far, but I would not downplay this issue based on one anecdotal experience. The internet expat discussion forums are full of stories where "risk departments" of U.S. brokers close investment accounts for life with no warning and no recourse, and the brokers will not give any reason for it and you won't be able to talk to anyone. Many experienced this shortly after logging in from another country.
No, I was ok, but after I request a foreign mailing address )but same permanent US address), they required me to provide a utility bill or paycheck with my address on it.

My brother was in the house paying bills in his name and I asked about my paying one but actually they had a management company paying all the bills for several residences and they were just writing one check to them and didn’t want to change.

So no utility bill and a frozen account.

That generally is the verification.

My point is that Vanguard was not checking. Once they found out (per my request), I was immediately frozen. I’d not been using a VPN and making trades from overseas, but they had no idea. Had they been checking, I’d surely have been frozen before that.

Anyway, maybe look into a phone with global roaming, but it might be safest to just open an InteractiveBrokers account while you are in the US. They are the most expat friendly (although IB accounts with a EU address won’t be able to trade per EU restrictions).

And I note, frozen meant no new purchases. Reinvestment, sales, and transfers out were fine. A 529 stayed at Vanguard for a couple of years and a variable annuity for 7 before Vanguard transferred all of them to Transamerica. Everything else I transferred in-kind to Schwab International so there were no tax issues from a forced sale. Traumatic at the time emotionally, but a non-event in hindsight.
comeinvest
Posts: 377
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by comeinvest »

typical.investor wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:07 am No, I was ok, but after I request a foreign mailing address )but same permanent US address), they required me to provide a utility bill or paycheck with my address on it.

My brother was in the house paying bills in his name and I asked about my paying one but actually they had a management company paying all the bills for several residences and they were just writing one check to them and didn’t want to change.

So no utility bill and a frozen account.

That generally is the verification.

My point is that Vanguard was not checking. Once they found out (per my request), I was immediately frozen. I’d not been using a VPN and making trades from overseas, but they had no idea. Had they been checking, I’d surely have been frozen before that.

Anyway, maybe look into a phone with global roaming, but it might be safest to just open an InteractiveBrokers account while you are in the US. They are the most expat friendly (although IB accounts with a EU address won’t be able to trade per EU restrictions).

And I note, frozen meant no new purchases. Reinvestment, sales, and transfers out were fine. A 529 stayed at Vanguard for a couple of years and a variable annuity for 7 before Vanguard transferred all of them to Transamerica. Everything else I transferred in-kind to Schwab so there were no tax issues from a forced sale. Traumatic at the time emotionally, but a non-event in hindsight.
Again, glad you were lucky, I understood that! But one anecdotal story does not make any case. The expat internet forums are full of stories where risk departments close accounts with no recourse, you cannot log in one day without warning, you cannot talk to anyone, you have a week or two to move your assets out. The witch hunt seems to get tougher every year. The general recommendation seems to be to leave no trace in the first place.
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

comeinvest wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:47 am
typical.investor wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:07 am No, I was ok, but after I request a foreign mailing address )but same permanent US address), they required me to provide a utility bill or paycheck with my address on it.

My brother was in the house paying bills in his name and I asked about my paying one but actually they had a management company paying all the bills for several residences and they were just writing one check to them and didn’t want to change.

So no utility bill and a frozen account.

That generally is the verification.

My point is that Vanguard was not checking. Once they found out (per my request), I was immediately frozen. I’d not been using a VPN and making trades from overseas, but they had no idea. Had they been checking, I’d surely have been frozen before that.

Anyway, maybe look into a phone with global roaming, but it might be safest to just open an InteractiveBrokers account while you are in the US. They are the most expat friendly (although IB accounts with a EU address won’t be able to trade per EU restrictions).

And I note, frozen meant no new purchases. Reinvestment, sales, and transfers out were fine. A 529 stayed at Vanguard for a couple of years and a variable annuity for 7 before Vanguard transferred all of them to Transamerica. Everything else I transferred in-kind to Schwab so there were no tax issues from a forced sale. Traumatic at the time emotionally, but a non-event in hindsight.
Again, glad you were lucky, I understood that! But one anecdotal story does not make any case. The expat internet forums are full of stories where risk departments close accounts with no recourse, you cannot log in one day without warning, you cannot talk to anyone, you have a week or two to move your assets out. The witch hunt seems to get tougher every year. The general recommendation seems to be to leave no trace in the first place.
I don’t know how you leave no trace. Methods of detection change are constantly changing.

If they want to (and I don’t mean just want but dedicate IT resources like YouTube.tv has done - of course that is a contractual agreement they have with t.v. stations), they will likely be able to detect you.

I think you need the fallback of what to do if detected. Be at a friendly broker I think, and be able to show a utility bill if possible. If not, IB may be your only hope (they can open accounts most anywhere). But if you are in the EU, then a LLC (providing it works tax wise with your country of residence) or using options that settle in ETF shares look like the only options.

But yeah, avoiding detection is a good first step. It’s really been a moving target in my experience though. Maybe it’s be easier with a dedicated device so you aren’t enabling, disabling, and re-enabling services.

Try being overseas without using location services to find places … yeah right stone ages. And you’ll use your desktop too … bigger maps are helpful than on even a Mac size phone.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Understood, but all the other items that you mentioned are relatively trivial for me and for some others (the computer can be a remote machine), except the cell phone location service. I am looking for ideas or input for this specifically. I am not currently outside the U.S., but I want to travel later this year and travel longer in the future and be well prepared, and came across this thread. It's a pain that we have to go through this silly cat-and-mouse game nowadays, although we do nothing illegal, but to play this game it's better to know the rules and the ins and outs beforehand.

If I turn off GPS on the phone, and connect via VPN, will the location service show the location of the VPN? Is there a way for an Android app to detect if GPS is on or off?


Your phone doesn't need GPS to know where you are. Think about it. The browser in your desktop computer knows where you are without GPS. You can turn off location reporting in the browser, but the bank might require that you turn it on before providing access.

There are Android apps that will simulate location. Search on "Android mock location apps." I haven't used them and have no idea how well they work.

The cat and mouse will never end. You are looking at a new avocation.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

That said, I don’t believe most financial institutions try to detect where you are. My account was frozen at Vanguard because I (didn’t know these things yet) requested a foreign mailing address (keeping the main address at a US relative’s). Prior to that, I accessed freely from overseas without trouble.

We have to understand the motivation of the brokers like Vanguard. Naturally, they want to gain customers, not lose them. But if they knowing maintain accounts for customers in foreign countries the financial regulators of those countries can accuse them of doing business in their jurisdiction without meeting the compliance obligations required. So, they have to be able to show good faith efforts not to accept foreign clients. So, it's "don't ask, don't tell," but if it should come to their attention they are compelled to take action.

But after the next 9/11 type event, everything could change yet again. It will become easier and easier to detect country of residence and actual location. If they were to check my in person credit card transactions they would have no doubt as to where I live.

So, we have to use the available tools to simulate a US presence as long as we can.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:31 pm
cbeck wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure.
Yeah, this is the risk of PMB. While PMB gives you a street address, it is a *commercial* address not residential. They can look up USPS's database to find that out.

How did you avoid the account closure, if you did?
As it happened USAA simply did not close my account. Apparently, closure was never their intention. They just wanted to know where I am. I originally opened an account at USAA just because I knew that their clients included a lot of expats, since their target market is military and former military.

By the way, they only bank/credit union that I know of that will actually open a new account for an expat is State Department Federal Credit Union, whom I recommend.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:56 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:31 pm
cbeck wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:27 pm USAA Federal Savings Bank noticed that my registered address with them for years has been a PMB and suddenly demanded my physical address on pain of closure.
Yeah, this is the risk of PMB. While PMB gives you a street address, it is a *commercial* address not residential. They can look up USPS's database to find that out.

How did you avoid the account closure, if you did?
As it happened USAA simply did not close my account. Apparently, closure was never their intention. They just wanted to know where I am. I originally opened an account at USAA just because I knew that their clients included a lot of expats, since their target market is military and former military.

By the way, they only bank/credit union that I know of that will actually open a new account for an expat is State Department Federal Credit Union, whom I recommend.
Thank you. Yeah I've seen your recommendations of SDFCU. When I took a quick look last time, I wasn't sure if I was eligible. I'll take another look.

As another poster said, if we can somehow maintain a US address + utility bills, that's ideal. The question is how to do so without taking a huge financial hit or having to manage tenants.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 6:03 pm Thank you. Yeah I've seen your recommendations of SDFCU. When I took a quick look last time, I wasn't sure if I was eligible. I'll take another look.

As another poster said, if we can somehow maintain a US address + utility bills, that's ideal. The question is how to do so without taking a huge financial hit or having to manage tenants.
You're eligible for SDFCU, but they do demand a lot of documentation.

Yes, a US address with utility bills is likely to survive scrutiny, but if that address happens to be in a state with an income tax, you'll be getting a letter from the state's tax collector wondering where your tax returns are. I myself have no interest in owning property and even less in being a landlord, which looks like a job to me.

It's good to keep up-to-date on the situation and take as many steps as practical, but I wouldn't bother worrying beyond that. We can't control the future. I have been retired abroad for ten years and everything is still workable, if not always entirely convenient. I love our life abroad.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 6:30 pm Yes, a US address with utility bills is likely to survive scrutiny, but if that address happens to be in a state with an income tax, you'll be getting a letter from the state's tax collector wondering where your tax returns are. I myself have no interest in owning property and even less in being a landlord, which looks like a job to me.

It's good to keep up-to-date on the situation and take as many steps as practical, but I wouldn't bother worrying beyond that. We can't control the future. I have been retired abroad for ten years and everything is still workable, if not always entirely convenient. I love our life abroad.
Some folks mentioned the South Dakota trip, where you fly into the state, stay at a hotel for a night then take care of DL / voter reg / PMB etc etc the next day. This takes care of the residency situation, but it doesn't take care of utility bills.

As you say, owning a property & managing from abroad is a huge hassle. If you get a prop manager, well, they'll take a piece of the pie.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 6:42 pm Some folks mentioned the South Dakota trip, where you fly into the state, stay at a hotel for a night then take care of DL / voter reg / PMB etc etc the next day. This takes care of the residency situation, but it doesn't take care of utility bills.

As you say, owning a property & managing from abroad is a huge hassle. If you get a prop manager, well, they'll take a piece of the pie.
Life seems too short to me to spend so much as a night of it in North Dakota. I have never heard anyone speak well of his property manager.

If you want to vote, there is another option. My mail forwarder, sbimailservice.com, which is located in Florida claims that they will register you as a Florida voter without your ever having to set foot in the Sunshine State. I am quite happy with St. Brendan's Isle mail service, but the voting thing sounds too dodgy to me. But if you want your vote to count, it would likely count more in FL than ND.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 6:55 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 6:42 pm Some folks mentioned the South Dakota trip, where you fly into the state, stay at a hotel for a night then take care of DL / voter reg / PMB etc etc the next day. This takes care of the residency situation, but it doesn't take care of utility bills.

As you say, owning a property & managing from abroad is a huge hassle. If you get a prop manager, well, they'll take a piece of the pie.
Life seems too short to me to spend so much as a night of it in North Dakota. I have never heard anyone speak well of his property manager.

If you want to vote, there is another option. My mail forwarder, sbimailservice.com, which is located in Florida claims that they will register you as a Florida voter without your ever having to set foot in the Sunshine State. I am quite happy with St. Brendan's Isle mail service, but the voting thing sounds too dodgy to me. But if you want your vote to count, it would likely count more in FL than ND.
I hear good things about St. Brendan's Isle. I wasn't aware you can sign up with them without living in Florida.

While you might be able to pull the same 1-day trip in North Dakota, I would not recommend North Dakota for they levy a state income tax. South Dakota doesn't, that's why they're popular with RV peeps to quickly acquire residency then go around the country.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:05 pm
I hear good things about St. Brendan's Isle. I wasn't aware you can sign up with them without living in Florida.

While you might be able to pull the same 1-day trip in North Dakota, I would not recommend North Dakota for they levy a state income tax. South Dakota doesn't, that's why they're popular with RV peeps to quickly acquire residency then go around the country.
I always prefer to deal with a small business owner rather than some Megacorp drone. I have been using St. Brendan's for the past ten years. On the rare occasions that there has been any problem, I ring them up and get Scott on the line, who is apparently one of the owners, and he has always made it right. I once asked for a special service. I wanted to send something to a US address without a stamp from Thailand on it. So, I asked Scott if I could send it to St. Brendan's and have him put a US stamp on it and send it along. No problem. That comfort level is worth gold to me.

If you're going to expat I suggest that you be sure to open your account at ssa.gov if you haven't already. Also, it's very useful to have the US passport card in addition to the passport book. The card will be widely accepted as id in most countries since they all have national id cards themselves and it fits in your wallet.

Where are you thinking of going?
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:25 pm I always prefer to deal with a small business owner rather than some Megacorp drone. I have been using St. Brendan's for the past ten years. On the rare occasions that there has been any problem, I ring them up and get Scott on the line, who is apparently one of the owners, and he has always made it right. I once asked for a special service. I wanted to send something to a US address without a stamp from Thailand on it. So, I asked Scott if I could send it to St. Brendan's and have him put a US stamp on it and send it along. No problem. That comfort level is worth gold to me.

If you're going to expat I suggest that you be sure to open your account at ssa.gov if you haven't already. Also, it's very useful to have the US passport card in addition to the passport book. The card will be widely accepted as id in most countries since they all have national id cards themselves and it fits in your wallet.

Where are you thinking of going?
I have ssa.gov, but I didn't know about the US passport card. I'll look into it, thank you.

Nothing concrete yet, I'm just eyeing possible remote-work possibility with my workplace. It's not a megacorp but we have some overseas footprint in the MIddle East / Asia / Europe.

It's extremely valuable to hear from someone like you, who's been at it for more than a decade.
Last edited by Marseille07 on Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:29 pm I have ssa.gov, but I didn't know about the US passport card. I'll look into it, thank you.

Nothing concrete yet, I'm just eyeing possible remote-work possibility with my workplace. It's not a megacorp but we have some overseas footprint in the MIddle East / Asia / Europe.
I envy you the opportunity to work abroad combining the best of both worlds. I had to wait until retirement.

A friend of mine enjoyed working remotely in Cyprus. Low cost of living for Europe and good food.

Do you have a Google Voice number, which is essential because it will accept sms messages at least from most banks as well as free calling?
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:43 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:29 pm I have ssa.gov, but I didn't know about the US passport card. I'll look into it, thank you.

Nothing concrete yet, I'm just eyeing possible remote-work possibility with my workplace. It's not a megacorp but we have some overseas footprint in the MIddle East / Asia / Europe.
I envy you the opportunity to work abroad combining the best of both worlds. I had to wait until retirement.

A friend of mine enjoyed working remoting in Cyprus. Low cost of living for Europe and good food.

Do you have a Google Voice number, which is essential because it will accept sms messages at least from most banks as well as free calling?
I was planning to just carry my US cell. I'm with Ting and the bill is only like $20/mo. I believe SMS should work just fine, though I admit I have not tested it.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:46 pm
cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:43 pm
Do you have a Google Voice number, which is essential because it will accept sms messages at least from most banks as well as free calling?
I was planning to just carry my US cell. I'm with Ting and the bill is only like $20/mo. I believe SMS should work just fine, though I admit I have not tested it.
You're missing a bet in that case. GV is very useful. Uses the data network so it's really free, but you so need a US number for the initial setup. So, it's a good idea to get one while you are still in the US. I would recommend it even if only on the principle of redundancy. Wouldn't Ting have roaming charges? Banks and brokers are mostly requiring some form of 2 factor authentication of which some insist on sms. If you do get a GV number, then you have to use it from time to time to keep it alive.

In addition to GV, good to get Signal for free, secure audio and video calling with as many friends as you can persuade to install Signal themselves.

If you don't already have a password manager, the excellent 1Password manager has one unique benefit for travelers. Since the data on our devices is most at risk when crossing borders, 1Password enables you to turn on "travel mode," which while on will only show up the "vault" or groups of login credentials that you choose. So, you might not want to designate your vault of "retirement accounts" as safe for travel. Then if the immigration official at Heathrow orders you as a suspected terrorist to unlock your phone including 1Password under threat of imprisonment, they will never see your "retirement accounts" vault in 1Password. So, this is strictly for worry-warts.

The other recommendation I would make is to learn the local language. Few expats in Thailand do, but it is highly rewarding.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:20 pm You're missing a bet in that case. GV is very useful. Uses the data network so it's really free, but you so need a US number for the initial setup. So, it's a good idea to get one while you are still in the US. I would recommend it even if only on the principle of redundancy. Wouldn't Ting have roaming charges? Banks and brokers are mostly requiring some form of 2 factor authentication of which some insist on sms. If you do get a GV number, then you have to use it from time to time to keep it alive.
I *think* iPhones can use wifi-calling, including SMS. I'm pretty much connected to the home wifi when accessing financial institutions. With that said, I'll look into GV and Signal per your recommendation. I haven't used Signal but I'm guessing it is similar to whatsapp.
If you don't already have a password manager, the excellent 1Password manager has one unique benefit for travelers. Since the data on our devices is most at risk when crossing borders, 1Password enables you to turn on "travel mode," which while on will only show up the "vault" or groups of login credentials that you choose. So, you might not want to designate your vault of "retirement accounts" as safe for travel. Then if the immigration official at Heathrow orders you as a suspected terrorist to unlock your phone including 1Password under threat of imprisonment, they will never see your "retirement accounts" vault in 1Password. So, this is strictly for worry-warts.

The other recommendation I would make is to learn the local language. Few expats in Thailand do, but it is highly rewarding.
I use a PM but it's offline (KeePass). 1Password's travel mode is interesting though. This reminded me of VeraCrypt's hidden volume! https://veracrypt.eu/en/docs/hidden-volume/

I agree that learning the local language is a very good idea. It'd be quite miserable if one can't talk to the locals.
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:20 pm You're missing a bet in that case. GV is very useful. Uses the data network so it's really free, but you so need a US number for the initial setup. So, it's a good idea to get one while you are still in the US. I would recommend it even if only on the principle of redundancy. Wouldn't Ting have roaming charges? Banks and brokers are mostly requiring some form of 2 factor authentication of which some insist on sms. If you do get a GV number, then you have to use it from time to time to keep it alive.
Welp, I tried getting a GV number, but they don't take my Ting number. The same number used to work with GV when I was with AT&T. I'll need to look into this.
comeinvest
Posts: 377
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by comeinvest »

cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:39 pm Understood, but all the other items that you mentioned are relatively trivial for me and for some others (the computer can be a remote machine), except the cell phone location service. I am looking for ideas or input for this specifically. I am not currently outside the U.S., but I want to travel later this year and travel longer in the future and be well prepared, and came across this thread. It's a pain that we have to go through this silly cat-and-mouse game nowadays, although we do nothing illegal, but to play this game it's better to know the rules and the ins and outs beforehand.

If I turn off GPS on the phone, and connect via VPN, will the location service show the location of the VPN? Is there a way for an Android app to detect if GPS is on or off?


Your phone doesn't need GPS to know where you are. Think about it. The browser in your desktop computer knows where you are without GPS. You can turn off location reporting in the browser, but the bank might require that you turn it on before providing access.

There are Android apps that will simulate location. Search on "Android mock location apps." I haven't used them and have no idea how well they work.

The cat and mouse will never end. You are looking at a new avocation.
I hope we agree that the location information can only come from GPS or the IP. If you have no GPS or turn it off, it can only come from the IP. If you connect via your home VPN (if you have a house in the U.S.), it will show that location, right?
EDIT: I'm not sure how location is determined without GPS. Does the computer / browser / cell phone send packets to a central server, to determine the public IP of the location?
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

Marseille07 wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 11:37 am
cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:20 pm You're missing a bet in that case. GV is very useful. Uses the data network so it's really free, but you so need a US number for the initial setup. So, it's a good idea to get one while you are still in the US. I would recommend it even if only on the principle of redundancy. Wouldn't Ting have roaming charges? Banks and brokers are mostly requiring some form of 2 factor authentication of which some insist on sms. If you do get a GV number, then you have to use it from time to time to keep it alive.
Welp, I tried getting a GV number, but they don't take my Ting number. The same number used to work with GV when I was with AT&T. I'll need to look into this.
GV won't take VOIP numbers. I don't know whether Ting is VOIP or not. If you don't have a landline, maybe you have a friend who would let you use his. The landline number is only involved in the initial setup, but it can't later be used for another GV number, so it should be a friend who is not himself interested in GV.
cbeck
Posts: 473
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:28 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by cbeck »

comeinvest wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 1:27 pm
cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:39 pm Understood, but all the other items that you mentioned are relatively trivial for me and for some others (the computer can be a remote machine), except the cell phone location service. I am looking for ideas or input for this specifically. I am not currently outside the U.S., but I want to travel later this year and travel longer in the future and be well prepared, and came across this thread. It's a pain that we have to go through this silly cat-and-mouse game nowadays, although we do nothing illegal, but to play this game it's better to know the rules and the ins and outs beforehand.

If I turn off GPS on the phone, and connect via VPN, will the location service show the location of the VPN? Is there a way for an Android app to detect if GPS is on or off?


Your phone doesn't need GPS to know where you are. Think about it. The browser in your desktop computer knows where you are without GPS. You can turn off location reporting in the browser, but the bank might require that you turn it on before providing access.

There are Android apps that will simulate location. Search on "Android mock location apps." I haven't used them and have no idea how well they work.

The cat and mouse will never end. You are looking at a new avocation.
I hope we agree that the location information can only come from GPS or the IP. If you have no GPS or turn it off, it can only come from the IP. If you connect via your home VPN (if you have a house in the U.S.), it will show that location, right?
EDIT: I'm not sure how location is determined without GPS. Does the computer / browser / cell phone send packets to a central server, to determine the public IP of the location?
Your browser can determine your location without GPS as you can see if you have a desktop without GPS. Browsers leak a ton of information. It is explained here:

https://vpnoverview.com/privacy/anonymo ... -location/
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

cbeck wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:17 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 11:37 am
cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 8:20 pm You're missing a bet in that case. GV is very useful. Uses the data network so it's really free, but you so need a US number for the initial setup. So, it's a good idea to get one while you are still in the US. I would recommend it even if only on the principle of redundancy. Wouldn't Ting have roaming charges? Banks and brokers are mostly requiring some form of 2 factor authentication of which some insist on sms. If you do get a GV number, then you have to use it from time to time to keep it alive.
Welp, I tried getting a GV number, but they don't take my Ting number. The same number used to work with GV when I was with AT&T. I'll need to look into this.
GV won't take VOIP numbers. I don't know whether Ting is VOIP or not. If you don't have a landline, maybe you have a friend who would let you use his. The landline number is only involved in the initial setup, but it can't later be used for another GV number, so it should be a friend who is not himself interested in GV.
Ting is a MVNO on T-mobile or Verizon. I specifically chose Verizon.

Interestingly, when I check against https://phonevalidator.com it has old information with AT&T.

When I check agianst https://realphonevalidation.com/resourc ... ator-tool/, it says
Status: Connected
Line Type: Mobile
Carrier: Verizon Wireless

So yeah, not quite sure why they don't like my number with Ting that used to work with AT&T.
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:46 pm
cbeck wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:43 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:29 pm I have ssa.gov, but I didn't know about the US passport card. I'll look into it, thank you.

Nothing concrete yet, I'm just eyeing possible remote-work possibility with my workplace. It's not a megacorp but we have some overseas footprint in the MIddle East / Asia / Europe.
I envy you the opportunity to work abroad combining the best of both worlds. I had to wait until retirement.

A friend of mine enjoyed working remoting in Cyprus. Low cost of living for Europe and good food.

Do you have a Google Voice number, which is essential because it will accept sms messages at least from most banks as well as free calling?
I was planning to just carry my US cell. I'm with Ting and the bill is only like $20/mo. I believe SMS should work just fine, though I admit I have not tested it.
Ting looks like a good option but, of course, that means turning on international data roaming which could be expensive so try to minimize it's usage. Their international help page is here https://help.ting.com/hc/en-us/articles ... h-ting-0-0

For SMS some banks will do 2FA verification via a phone call (Wells Fargo does) so you could use a cheap ip phone service and some brokerages offer 2FA via app (Schwab and Interactive Brokers).
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

typical.investor wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:51 pm Ting looks like a good option but, of course, that means turning on international data roaming which could be expensive so try to minimize it's usage. Their international help page is here https://help.ting.com/hc/en-us/articles ... h-ting-0-0

For SMS some banks will do 2FA verification via a phone call (Wells Fargo does) so you could use a cheap ip phone service and some brokerages offer 2FA via app (Schwab and Interactive Brokers).
Thank you. Yeah Ting talked about international roaming and I think I'm just about getting that enabled if not already.
2FA is a wildcard. I have IB, I *think* it'll work abroad but I haven't tested it. For other accounts, I've enabled security questions & passcode via email.
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

Marseille07 wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:58 pm
typical.investor wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:51 pm Ting looks like a good option but, of course, that means turning on international data roaming which could be expensive so try to minimize it's usage. Their international help page is here https://help.ting.com/hc/en-us/articles ... h-ting-0-0

For SMS some banks will do 2FA verification via a phone call (Wells Fargo does) so you could use a cheap ip phone service and some brokerages offer 2FA via app (Schwab and Interactive Brokers).
Thank you. Yeah Ting talked about international roaming and I think I'm just about getting that enabled if not already.
2FA is a wildcard. I have IB, I *think* it'll work abroad but I haven't tested it. For other accounts, I've enabled security questions & passcode via email.
IBKR Mobile has 2FA built in.

https://ibkr.info/article/2879
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

typical.investor wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:22 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:58 pm
typical.investor wrote: Fri Jun 18, 2021 7:51 pm Ting looks like a good option but, of course, that means turning on international data roaming which could be expensive so try to minimize it's usage. Their international help page is here https://help.ting.com/hc/en-us/articles ... h-ting-0-0

For SMS some banks will do 2FA verification via a phone call (Wells Fargo does) so you could use a cheap ip phone service and some brokerages offer 2FA via app (Schwab and Interactive Brokers).
Thank you. Yeah Ting talked about international roaming and I think I'm just about getting that enabled if not already.
2FA is a wildcard. I have IB, I *think* it'll work abroad but I haven't tested it. For other accounts, I've enabled security questions & passcode via email.
IBKR Mobile has 2FA built in.

https://ibkr.info/article/2879
Yes, this is what I use today when logging onto IBKR.

As far as GV, the issue appears that I had played around with it when I was still on AT&T; ported the number to Ting, now GV appears to be rejecting registration using the same number but from a different carrier (Ting), due to their anti-fraud measure or whatever.

I wasn't aware of this and it appears I'm SOL unless I change my number. Oh well.
User avatar
aj76er
Posts: 893
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 11:34 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by aj76er »

For 2FA, I believe using an app like Symantec VIP would solve any GPS concerns. This is just a unique random number generator (that runs on both phone and brokerage servers). That coupled with a US-based VPN should be good enough, right?
"Buy-and-hold, long-term, all-market-index strategies, implemented at rock-bottom cost, are the surest of all routes to the accumulation of wealth" - John C. Bogle
Marseille07
Posts: 4847
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by Marseille07 »

aj76er wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:01 am For 2FA, I believe using an app like Symantec VIP would solve any GPS concerns. This is just a unique random number generator (that runs on both phone and brokerage servers). That coupled with a US-based VPN should be good enough, right?
I think so, or we can turn off 2FA in most cases. Yes it's not great security wise, and sometimes you can't (like IBKR), but it might be a compromise worth making.
typical.investor
Posts: 2788
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

Re: so many issues for US expats ... would forming an investing LLC in the US help?

Post by typical.investor »

aj76er wrote: Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:01 am For 2FA, I believe using an app like Symantec VIP would solve any GPS concerns. This is just a unique random number generator (that runs on both phone and brokerage servers). That coupled with a US-based VPN should be good enough, right?
Maybe, but where does your mail go?

Even though I had electronic only set up at Vanguard, they still sent out various stuff that I didn't want going to my brother's house. I think a PMB (permanent mail box) might work as a mailing address if you keep the real street address. Many places wouldn't accept a PMB as an address, but I wonder if they would accept it as a mailing address.

I mean, for instance, I got notification by mail from Vanguard that my annuity had been transferred to another company. That was the only notification I received and they wouldn't talk about it over the phone and said to look at my mail. When most of what comes is junk mail, if you are using a relatives address, they might miss it. Mine did anyway (luckily by the time the annuity letter came I had switched to an address where I could safely and reliably get mail).

And if they did challenge you on your permanent address, I think I would just buy cable service for whoever's address I was using, submit that, and then cancel.
Post Reply