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Changing Traveller’s Cheques In Paraguay

Bad news  is it just Paraguay?

Following an enquiry from a person interested in Paraguay residency,  I made enquiries about the ability to change traveller’s cheques in Asuncion. Having used the bank transfer system for moving money internationally, I had never enquired regarding this method and had no recollection of seeing a ‘we change traveller’s cheques’ announcement in any bank or forex business here.

To make a long walk and wait story short, I found that you cannot change traveller’s cheques at international banks such as Citi and HSBC, major Brasilian concerns such as Banca Itau nor can you change travellers cheques at most of the major forex firms such as Alberdi and Chaco Cambios.  The only firm providing this service is Maxi Cambios and they deal only with ‘american express’ cheques denominated in USD only. You must have all your transaction records for the purchase of the traveller’s cheques to hand and it generally takes an hour for these transactions to be effected.  www.maxicambios.com.py  for further information.

I would ask anyone with firm knowledge regarding this topic in Brasil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to either confirm or deny if the same conditions apply.  If you’re posting on expat boards, please make this information available to prevent a lot of time, money and worry to prospective travellers or those relocating.

I also wonder aloud if this is a result of banking and forex institutions showing concern about systemic solvency or if this could be yet another bankster / governmental strategy to make the movement of people and their valuables more difficult.

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  1. Brad
    October 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    This has been a problem in Paraguay at least since the early 1980’s when my wife and her family started travelling between the US and PY. They quickly learned that travellers checks were NOT the way to bring money back to PY. American Express travelers checks are about the only travelers checks sold in the US (been that way forever it seems), and every person my wife’s family knows, or that I’ve known that goes between N. America and Paraguay will always warn you not to take them with you as “they’re not accepted”. I’m surprised frankly that you found a place that does take them. Another interesting tidbit. We have an account with CitiBank here in the US. When we approached the branch of CitiBank in PY we were told that there is no linkage between the two and therefor our US account could not be accessed nor honored by the CitiBank in PY! We had thought we could just dump money into our CitiBank account in the US and access it in PY but that sure didn’t work. Even the fact we had a US CitiBank account didn’t help any in establishing an account with the PY CitiBank.

    In a way I think all this is a positive, because PY is one of the few countries left in the world that the evil US Internal Revenue Service (federal tax authorities) cannot access records for US citizens who have in country accounts. Nor do the PY institutions provide any records or allow access by IRS. At least nof officially or as a matter of policy, although I bet the IRS snoops have figured ways to get whatever info they want. But this is mostly because PY banks or cooperativas have no linkage with the US and the thuggish, heavy handed efforts of the US taxman cannot affect them. Makes me wish I was rich and had lots of money to hide..%^) !

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