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I am in USA on temporary immigration status and I got an opportunity to move to Italy. I have saved up some money and I would like to use this money in Italy. There is a chance that I might return to USA after 3 years.

I am not sure what the best way to transfer this money is.

I would like to close my USA bank accounts at some point in time as they are not free (Wells Fargo).

Should I convert my money into euros, store it in a currency card and take it to Italy?

I also have credit cards which I would like to cancel.

Should I take some money and then wire the money to myself from my US bank account to my Italian bank account and then close the US account?

The money I have is in the ballpark of 12000 usd

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It rather depends on how much money you have:

$100

  • Withdraw the money as Euro notes and close the account

$1,000

  • Transfer the money into a prepaid Euro account and close the account

$10,100 to $100,000

  • Take a small amount of cash or prepaid card with you (enough to last you until your Italian bank account is opened).
  • In Italy, open an Italian bank account
  • Transfer the balance of the money with something like Transferwise.
  • Close the account when you are sure you don't need it any more

$1,000,000

  • Pay for professional advice

In addition

Don't forget the currency transfer/import/export reporting requirements. The bank should take care of these for transfers, but if you leave the US with cash (in any denomination) or cash equivalents with a value of $10,000 or more, you have to report it. The same is true of entering the EU with cash and cash equivalents with a value of €10,000 or more. Structuring a transaction to avoid the requirement is a crime (in the US, at least), so don't carry an amount just under the threshold, and especially don't say that you chose the amount to avoid having to report.

  • Thanks! I am in your 10000-100000 range. Thanks for your advise. – Morpheus Sep 24 '18 at 17:21
  • @Morpheus don't forget the currency transfer/import/export reporting requirements. The bank should take care of these for transfers, but if you leave the US with cash (in any denomination) or cash equivalents with a value of $10,000 or more, you have to report it. The same is true of entering the EU with cash and cash equivalents with a value of €10,000 or more. Structuring a transaction to avoid the requirement is a crime (in the US, at least), so don't carry an amount just under the threshold, and especially don't say that you chose the amount to avoid having to report. – phoog Sep 24 '18 at 17:35
  • @phoog - Good point. I've added that comment into the answer. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Sep 24 '18 at 17:41
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    By cash I meant bank notes/coins. What other sort of money is there? – Martin Bonner supports Monica Sep 24 '18 at 17:50
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    @Morpheus I do not know whether a currency card is considered a cash equivalent, but I would not risk it. A bank check endorsed to the bearer is a cash equivalent, for example. See help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/778/~/… and (pdf) cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/currency_reporting.pdf. – phoog Sep 24 '18 at 18:53
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I highly recommend using TransferWise to transfer funds between countries. It is the fastest method I have used, allows storage of multiple currencies in the account you create with them, and is widely recognized on expat sites as reliable.

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