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I may need to transfer a substantial sum of money (worth more than 10K in US dollars) from Israel to US. With this, I have these questions questions:

  1. I know IRS is notified on any large transfers. Would I need to provide them some documentation so they won't want to tax me on this money? It is not income, it is savings earned years ago and kept in foreign account, but I have no idea what they may want as a proof.
  2. What would be the best way to do it - provided that both currency conversion and international transfer is involved? I could probably wire it but they might charge too many fees on both ends and on conversion, maybe there's a better way?
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2  
I am fairly confident a wire should cost you the same fee regardless of the total amount. –  Matthew Read Jan 14 '11 at 19:28
    
Ever heard of bitcoins and dwolla? –  Jim Thio Jun 20 '12 at 5:41
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@JimThio with recent breakins and security problems, I'd rather stay out of bitcoin for now. And Dwolla seems to be US-only –  StasM Jun 24 '12 at 18:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In regards to your 1st question, if you are a US resident (according to IRS rules) and you have any foreign bank accounts, then you need to file a FBAR form for every year in which any of these accounts has more than $10,000. This is the way that IRS keeps track of substantial amounts of money kept by US residents in foreign accounts.

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When investigating transferring funds from the UK to Australia, I found the exchange rate offered by by banks for swift / Telegraphic transfers to be far below companies which specialise in international transfers.

Not applicable to you unfortunately, but I used http://www.ozforex.com.au/ and got a conversion rate which ended up netting me $100's of dollars compared with my banks, thanks to a better rate and no fee.

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The wire is probably the quick way to go. There may be a lower cost method through an international bank like Citi or HSBC.

If you are a US resident or have a "substantial presence" in the United States, the IRS may be interested in the origins of your money.

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Do they have some specific set of documents that they require as a proof or what would satisfy them? Most of the transactions were done electronically and not by me... –  StasM Jan 15 '11 at 9:45
    
I've used HSBC at both ends and the service was effortless. I can't remember the costs, but theirs was the most cost-effective way I found. –  JBRWilkinson Jan 25 '11 at 21:56
    
I just had the worst experience ever with HSBC. What's its cost??????? For some reasons I received some money in Euro and they converted them in US Dollar here in the USA. I sent emails, I called customer service, I called the Central Funds Transfer Department, I called the Foreign Exchange Wire Transfer, I went to branch offices several times and it's been impossible to determine the exchange rate that HSBC applied and its fees. They said fees are $15 but I found no transaction related to this. I'm afraid they detracted the fees from the wire. There is NO WAY to determine/verify their costs! –  Gevorg Jul 28 '11 at 21:17

One option would be to physically ship the money from Israel to the US.

I quickly ran the numbers for shipping different amounts of $100 bills (One pound equals 454 bills) using a popular shipping company.

Here are the results: alt text

The "sweet" spot is $100,000. That would only cost you $76 to ship which is just 0.08% of the amount being transferred.

Of course, the shipping company's website says international shipments of money are prohibited. Their website, however, let me categorize the shipment as "money". Strange.

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Cute. However, you are not accounting for the cost (and potential difficulty) of obtaining $100k or even $10k in USD100 bills in Israel. Notes often get a worse exchange rate than money transfers. –  poolie Jan 24 '11 at 6:01
    
@poolie. Good point. Did not take that into account. –  Muro Jan 24 '11 at 11:10
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A wire transfer through the world's primary bank to bank system -- SWIFT -- is going to be safer, faster, cheaper! (try about $25 on each end == $50 which is less than anything in the table above) and infinitely more legitimate than a shipment of money in a box in the post, a suitcase on a plane, or a trunk box from Nigeria. –  Paul Aug 30 '11 at 20:35
    
Do the prices include insurance to that amount? And even if it does, if the terms and conditions prohibit shipping money, then probably if the package gets lost (stolen by company employees), you would be out of luck trying to get anything out of the insurance. The dumbest way to put a large amount of money at risk. BTW: one of the banks I know, allows to send SWIFT wire of any value worldwide with all costs covered (OUR) for $30. So your "only" $76 is no way a good deal. –  miernik Nov 10 '11 at 22:18
    
The best solution if you don't want IRS to bitch unnecessarily. When they found out just explain it's not income. –  Jim Thio Jun 20 '12 at 5:40

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