Copyright John T. Reed 2014
Here is an email from one of my readers and [my comments in red]:
I recently opened a Canadian bank account.
I contacted James Curran,
[The Canadian banker I use and recommend: James Curran, Financial Planner
Bank of Montreal
Tsawwassen, 1206 56th St, Delta, BC V4L, 2A4
who opened the accounts for me over the telephone, then put me in contact with Patricia Saunders at their branch in Windsor, just across the river from Detroit. I set an appointment with Ms. Saunders to go in person to sign the papers.
I drove to Detroit and over the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor. Canadian Customs was easy.
Customs: "What is your citizenship?"
Me: "United States." I handed him my passport. [I recommend that readers get a U.S. passport card—$30, it works for land and water crossing of Canadian, Mexican, and some Caribbean borders. Also, I recommend that persons who may want to cross the Canadian border a lot during possible future USD hyperinflation to shop get a Nexus card—$50 CAD—it expedites crossing the Canadian border. Pay by Capital One or another credit card that does not charge a fee for currency conversions. All credit cards payments for Nexus no matter which country you are from are done in CAD which is a good deal at present because it’s nominally $50 in each currency but $50 CAD is now only about $45 USD.] He looked only at the first page with my name and picture.
Customs: "Why are you coming to Canada?"
Me: "I have a meeting here in Windsor at the Bank of Montreal."
Customs: "Are you bringing in more than $10,000 in cash?" [You can bring in any amount of cash that you want, but if it’s $10,000 or more, you have to tell the customs guys about it and they have to report it to law enforcement as does the Bank of Montreal and the bank that gave you the cash to begin with. One of my readers took $40,000 in cash to Canada and did not declare it. They learned about it by asking him and they let him go but they could have confiscated it because he did not declare it! There is no reason to take 10¢ in cash. Just take your check book.]
He handed me my passport. "Okay, you can go."
Windsor has a nice park along the river when you can see the Detroit skyline. The BMO office was three blocks from the river, so I parked my car in the park, and I walked to the BMO office.
Ms. Saunders was very pleasant. She explained the accounts to me, had me sign the papers, and we set up my ATM card. It took about one hour.
I drove back over the bridge to Detroit and went through US Customs.
Customs: "Country of citizenship?"
Me: "United States." I handed him my passport. [Again, the U.S. passport card would be good enough. Also, Nexus and/or GOES cards would have expedited his reentry to the U.S.]
Customs: "Why were you in Canada?"
Me: "I had a meeting in Windsor at the Bank of Montreal."
Customs: "What was the meeting about?"
Me: "I was opening a bank account?"
Customs: "Why would you want a Canadian bank account?"
Me: "I'm concerned about inflation in the United States."
Customs: "Why not just buy gold?"
Me: "Well, that might have worked a few years ago when gold was $300 an ounce, but lots of people have been buying gold lately and they've bid it up to $1600. I don't think it's a good buy right now." [It’s worse than that but I would not have gotten into all the reasons with the customs guy. See my article on the disadvantages of gold as an inflation hedge.]
Customs: "Where do you work?"
Me: "I work for [redacted]."
Customs: "[redacted]. You mean the [redacted]?"
Me: "Yes, that's right."
Customs: "What do you do there?"
Me: "I write computer software."
Customs: "Isn't [their] headquarters in Illinois?"
Me: "Well, [Redacted] is headquartered in [redacted] Illinois, but I work for the Michigan [Redacted]."
Customs: "So you think the Canadian dollar is a stronger currency than the US dollar?"
Me: "Well, not at present, but the Canadian government has been paying down their debt, while the US government continues to borrow one trillion dollars more every year. History shows that that often leads to high inflation."
Customs: "Well, you may be right. How much cash did you take to Canada to open the account?"
Me: "None. I'll use a wire transfer to fund the account." [He should have taken a U.S. check book and written a check for the initial deposit. Wire transfers cost about $45 each and are a bit of a pain.]
He looks at every page in my passport.
Customs: "Do you have any paperwork which shows you were at the Bank of Montreal?"
Me: "Yes." I hold up the portfolio they gave me with the BOM logo on it.
He hands me back my passport. "Okay, you can go."
My wife suggested that he asked so many questions just to see if I had ready answers which made some sense. If I hemmed and hawed, he would have been suspicious that I was lying about why I had been in Canada.
All the best,