Credit card applications usually say "must be a U.S. resident".

If a U.S. citizen moves abroad temporarily, and he doesn't want to use his friends' or relatives' U.S. addresses to get his mail, and his foreign address is uncertain, or is in a country with unreliable mail, what happens to his bank and credit accounts?

Must he give them up? Can and should he use an accountant or an attorney in the U.S. to handle his finances (and if so how much would that cost, typically)?

Is there a standard name for this service?

  • 1
    AFAIK it's tax and anti-money-laundering thing. Thing is for IRS, a U.S. citizen can never be considered non-resident, because for IRS it's only non-resident aliens
    – vartec
    Sep 30, 2015 at 18:57
  • 1
    @vartec yet, when I, a US citizen, moved to Europe, I was not allowed to give a European address to my credit card company.
    – phoog
    Dec 19, 2015 at 5:59
  • @phoog: not allowed (as in against the law) or rather that their system was not designed to deal with that? These are two quite different cases.
    – vartec
    Dec 19, 2015 at 6:12
  • @vartec I do not know the reason. All I know is that when I called up to give my address, the customer service person refused to accept the foreign address, so I gave my parents' US address instead. I didn't think much about it after that. Gayot Fow seems to have had a different experience.
    – phoog
    Dec 19, 2015 at 6:16
  • 1
    A practical reason for credit card companies: If you don't pay the bill you're an awful lot harder to collect from. Mar 11, 2018 at 1:50

4 Answers 4


There is no reason to keep your move secret or to engage a lawyer. And there is no standard name for the service other than 'moving'.

I know from personal experience that American Express, MasterCard, and Visa cards originally issued in the USA continue to work after you move to Europe and change your address. I have done it in three different countries outside the USA: Germany, Russia, and the UK. The only time I had an issue was visiting Las Vegas and American Express called me and asked to confirm that I was really stateside.

Use 'go paperless' and always keep your current address up-to-date. It's smart to do that so they will not think your charges are suspicious and should be blocked. When I first moved to Russia, the card issuers were trying to confirm all the time until I changed my address to a Russian one. You can (or should be able to) pay your cards via on-line banking seamlessly. There is no reason to rely upon snail mail in this era except to send you new cards when your current ones expire.

  • What about bank accounts?
    – MWB
    Sep 29, 2015 at 21:52
  • 1
    Same thing. Go paperless and keep your physical address current.
    – Gayot Fow
    Sep 29, 2015 at 22:28
  • I had the same experience when moving from the US to Germany. I called my credit card company and let them know I was moving permanently. I've had no issues. I also applied for, and received, another credit card (albeit from the same bank) while living here. No big deal.
    – Kyralessa
    Mar 12, 2018 at 15:10

I personally use my parents place as my US address. Then I go paperless and pay my accounts through a bank that I transfer money into from where I am now. Anything important is mailed to me by my parents. Initially you will get alerts or phone calls that you've made a foreign transaction. Just explain to them you will be out of the country for a few months.


Hiring an attorney merely to be able to continue to use a credit card would seem very expensive, you only need a post office box or something like that (USPS calls companies offering this service “commercial mail receiving agencies”).

As long as the credit card company doesn't notice you moved abroad, you should in any case be able to continue to use the card. I have done so without trouble, paying the balance every month in full (albeit not with a US-based card). I imagine making insurance claims could however be difficult (if being a foreign resident is a problem in the first place, which might not even be the case).


As a Canadian who has native US credit cards and has never even actually lived in the United States, I can tell you that it is absolutely possible to carry US credit cards while not being resident in the country.

You will need a couple of things:

  • You need a US mailing address. This is absolutely required, even if you are not receiving paper bills. At a minimum, this is where replacement cards will be mailed, and where regulatory notices will be sent, if US law requires that they be mailed to you. Note that US credit card issuers are not obliged to send anything to you out of the country; it will be your responsibility to get cards forwarded to you, if you cannot return to pick them up.
  • Your credit card issuer needs to understand your situation and to agree to continue providing you credit. In my case, my card issuers are aware that I live in Canada but have a permanent US mailing address (a post office box). US law requires that the credit card issuer record a resident address on your file. In my case, my Canadian physical address is recorded. If you will still own a home in the US, this can probably be used, or the bank can record your overseas address. Note that some credit card issuers may refuse to do this, and cancel your accounts. The more temporary your foreign living arrangements, the more willing they will be to stay on your account. (In my case, although I never live in the US, I am in the US nearly every calendar month and there is enough activity that they choose to continue to do business with me.)

Also, note that while applications may, on the surface, require US residency, you are not applying. (And in my case, although I am not a US resident, my credit card issuers were clearly aware of my lack of US residency - one of them, American Express, transferred data from my Canadian file, and the other, Capital One, received a copy of Canadian tax documents clearly outlining my residence and situation - and thus credit card issuers can decide to waive their own requirements if they so choose.)

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