I'm moving from the Netherlands to the US for a long stay. Therefore I sold most of my belongings in Europe and now have a decent amount of money in my dutch bank account. I would like to make use of this money in the US (buy a car, set an emergency backup, rent an apartment, etc.) Which is the most efficient way to transfer money from the Netherlands to the US? I think of three main options.

  1. Withdraw my money from the bank and exchange in the Netherlands.
  2. Bring Euros to the US and exchange them for US dollars.
  3. Open a bank account in the US and ask for a wired transfer.
  4. Use my Dutch credit card.

For options 1 and 2 I'm aware that I have to declare to the authorities if I'm traveling with more than $10.000. In any case, for security reasons, I wouldn't dare to travel with that amount of cash.

  • 2
    FYI There is no limit on the amount of money that can be taken out of or brought into the United States. However, if a person or persons traveling together and filing a joint declaration (CBP Form 6059-B) have $10,000 or more in currency or negotiable monetary instruments, they must fill out a "Report of International Transportation of Currency and Monetary Instruments" FinCEN 105 (former CF 4790). help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/195/kw/…
    – user 56513
    Feb 12, 2017 at 21:53
  • A lot depends on how much money. For $25K I might just use a bank for convenience (but still shop around for the exchange rate- you don't want to pay 2.5% on top of the interbank rate if not necessary). There are 3rd party agencies. One method used by some Canadians is Norbert's Gambit which involves buying and selling the same liquid stock sold on two exchanges. Feb 13, 2017 at 2:03
  • Some Canadians use VBCE which give you very similar rates with much less hassle than that Gamble. I bet other dedicated FX companies will have similar deals. Do not try to be too smart for your own good.
    – chx
    Feb 13, 2017 at 4:06
  • Having done the reverse and, in addition to chx solid advice, I'd suggest you check which affiliations your Dutch bank has with US bank(s). Short term, you can leave most of your money where it is, open an account in an affiliate US bank, then shift monies (as much and when needed). If you're planning on closing your Dutch account, that can be done after you relocate.
    – Giorgio
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:54

3 Answers 3

  1. You can read about opening an USA account as a tourist here. To summarize, you need to be present personally, not every branch will do it, you will need your original passport and visa but .nl doesn't need one), copy of my address proof from back home (any one of these: utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement) a small (< $100) amount of cash as an initial deposit, and preferably a US phone number (you can use any VoIP service like voip.ms or Google Voice to set one up).

  2. The cheapest transfer service is transferwise. I linked their SOFORT support page. You can send 25 000 EUR every 24 hours if paying with SOFORT. Since you are not in a rush you can be done with wiring in a few days / weeks depending. With Transferwise, you can just type the amount you are sending to see how much will arrive before committing to the service so you can see whether they give you a good deal (they do).

  3. Do not even think of using Western Union they will fleece you badly for wiring this much money. You can't send more than 7500 USD in one go anyways. SWIFT is not bad but Transferwise is much better.

  4. Having this much money on you personally in the USA anywhere but an airport especially is very strongly not advised because there's a chance -- some say it's very small, I disagree -- of civil forfeiture and then good bye money.

  • 1
    He said he's moving for work. He'll have a social security number and not very much difficulty opening a bank account. Feb 12, 2017 at 23:49
  • The rest stands.
    – chx
    Feb 13, 2017 at 7:15
  • 1
    I've used Transferwise and I agree that they're cheaper than the alternatives.
    – gerrit
    Feb 13, 2017 at 10:47
  • I'd do it all in one transfer - you'll have to use a bank transfer rather than SOFORT, but it'll be a lot less hassle. May 29, 2018 at 9:16

It is possible to open a bank account as a foreigner, especially if you go to one of the big Wall Street banks (Wells Fargo, Chase, US Bank, etc.) Once there, you can wire money through. (It is similar to a student studying abroad in the US). That is possibly the safest and most reliable way. You could bring Euros and convert them or go through a service like Western Union, but once you get to the US, you wouldn't want to carry all that money with you. You could also use your Dutch credit card, but if you're in a situation where only cash is allowed, or your bank freezes your account because you are abroad, then you'll be stuck without money.


By Efficient I assume you mean lowest transaction cost and substantial meaning over $10k. There are a few variables which will be peculiar to your bank and which foreign exchange service you seek to use and their rates.

From my somewhat extensive personal experience in Europe, withdrawing my funds from ATM gives me the best rate compared to using foreign exchange services. By that I mean withdrawing € (out of my Bank of America account) from ATM's in Europe. I use ATM's from banks which are members of the Global ATM alliance and hence incur no fees.


Option 1: Poor Exchange Rate

Option 2: Poor Exchange Rate

Option 3: Better Exchange rate, pay wire transfer fee ~$40

Option 4: Better Exchange rate, watch out for foreign transaction fees up to 3%. If you have cards with no foreign transaction fee, great! Cannot typically use a card to buy a car and for some transactions so you will be handicapped

Overall, Option 3 gives me the best efficiency.

  • 1
    I'm moving from the Europe to the US and not the other way around.
    – je_b
    Feb 12, 2017 at 22:14
  • I recognize that, it doesn't change anything really.
    – user 56513
    Feb 12, 2017 at 22:14
  • Option 3 with Transferwise is the way to go. EUR->USD costs 0.5%, and they use the midmarket rate. There should be no additional charges (unless the Dutch bank charges to transfer money out). May 29, 2018 at 9:15

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