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I'm a US citizen and live in the US. I'm concerned that a Trump presidency may lead to serious problems in the US -- civil unrest, authoritarian government, etc. Let's say that I want to store some of my savings in a way that would be protected from such an outcome.

Would it be a reasonable idea to open a savings account in an overseas bank? If so, how would I do that? Are there online-only banks where the funds are held somewhere other than the US?

Please note that I'm not interested in evading taxes or otherwise breaking current law. But I'd like my money to be protected if the situation changes.

  • FATCA imposes tax reporting requirements on foreign banks where Americans hold accounts. This has caused reluctance on some FATCA-aware banks to accept new American customers. I would expect it to be difficult to find a foreign bank that will accept you as a customer if you do not reside in that country or do not have a significant enough amount to invest with them to make it worth their while. – Eric Nov 11 '16 at 14:21
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U.S. citizens are allowed to own foreign bank and investment accounts. However, there are various financial and tax reporting requirements for owners of such accounts. Even when there is no foreign income involved. For example famous FBAR (Fincen Report Form 114), Form 8938, and even more forms if your assets/activities abroad become more complicated. Penalties, even for unintentional non-compliance can be Draconian. So just keep in mind, that once you start having foreign accounts, you will start having additional obligations and might spend more money and time on tax preparation. If you are ok with that, then its cool.

But... assuming your gloomy predictions on Trump presidency come true. They might be accompanied by more strict capital control, reporting requirements, and may become even greater pain in the neck for people with foreign assets.

Regarding recommendations, I am not sure about banks, but there are some foreign precious metal investing companies that are completely online based such as https://www.bullionvault.com/ and https://www.goldmoney.com/. These might also guard you from potential problems with US dollar.

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Would it be a reasonable idea to open a savings account in an overseas bank?

For the risks you mention, this may not be a good idea for individual. Note HNI / Companies routinely keep funds in various overseas account.

For individual the amount of paperwork [reporting in US etc] and fees etc would be high. Plus in adverse conditions, access to this funds would still be stringent and restricted.

Some of the other options you can try are

  • Keep bullion / precious metals[Gold/Platinum/etc] in home. They come with their own risks of theft etc.
  • Keep hard cash in different currencies, EUR/GBP etc. Again there is risk of theft as well as termites etc.

Generally for the risks you mention, there is very little an individual can do except to take it if & when it comes.

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If it gets bad enough that banks start failing, you probably will have a hard time accessing overseas accounts. That's real SHTF stuff. If so, lighters and toilet paper are probably the best investment you can make besides canned and dried food.


Update:

Complete breakdown of society is far more likely than the paranoid fantasy of Trump establishing an authoritarian government. The general population would rise up and you would find the civil unrest portion to be important.

As for lighters and toilet paper, think about it for a minute. If you've got a case of food in cans but no way to heat them, would you trade a can for a lighter? Two cans? And toilet paper would be worth its weight in gold after about 2 months.

If you really want to be a prepper, seeds, medicine, are all good things, but the really important thing to have is skills. Know how to hunt, clean an animal, tend a garden, clean and dress a wound.

Having gold and diamonds would be a decent hedge for a fraction of your investments.

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