If you have a bank account – any account at any bank – in Costa Rica you will probably have received an email or a call asking you to “actualizar sus datos” (update your account information).
Update is a process that, especially if you are a foreigner, providing your most recent identification (residency cedula, passport, etc), a utility bill (in your name – good luck on that) and details with proof of income and the source of the funds being deposited.
The update must occur by December 31, with all banks under the “get to your customer” program required to comply by the banking superindendant.
The message your bank will tell you is that the update will allow them to better serve you and fight against money laundering.
Another message your friendly bank representative will tell you that if you don’t update you will lose your account. But, that is not entirely true.
What the bank can and will probably do is suspend your account, meaning you cannot make deposits, your ATM card will probably not work, up to and until you update your account. I say “may” and “probably” because not even the banks know what they will do for customers who don’t update.
One thing they can’t do is close your account. This I confirmed with my local Scotibank branch manager.
Updating can be straight forward if you are in Costa Rica. However, if you are, like thousands who have bank accounts in Costa Rica but are not in the country or plans to visit any time soon, it can be a problem. Especially for those who have a rental income.
If you are one the many who own property in Costa Rica and have it rented out, an account suspension can become a serious headache: your tenants, property manager or friend won’t be able to make deposits to your account. You won’t be able to pay your bills online. Or get your cash from the ATM.
So what to do? If you are fortunate enough to have a friend or a “trusted” person in Costa Rica, they can help you in submitting all the paperwork to the bank: a copy of your identification, which must be notarized by the Costa Rican consulate in your country or have the “apostille“, a copy of a utility bill and get a local accountant to prepare a financial statement.
The “actualizar” is for both personal and corporate accounts.
The foregoing is based on “my” personal experience with the updating. It is not meant to be taken as legal or any other type of advice. If you are unclear how this banking requirement will affect you, you should consult a lawyer or other professional on the matter.