Banks and the Andorran banking system - Andorra | Simple Residency Guide | what do I do?

El Tarter - Soldeu 2019
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Banks and the Andorran banking system

Introduction to Andorra
The Importance of a Fiscal Residence Certificate

Under the exchange of financial information up to which has signed Andorra information as required by the agreement is automatically sent to the countries concerned on 30 June and 31 December each year.

When you open an account in Andorra as a new resident you are invariably a fiscal resident in another country ( If you are not then your application for a bank account is likely to be refused). Imortantly your status as a fiscal resident in that country will remain in place until such time as the bank is informed otherwise. This information can ONLY be in the form of a fiscal residency certificate issued in Andorra ( if that is your intention and to stop the automatic exchange of information).

That certificate can only be issued after 183 days after your residency card was issued. I have successfully requested on one occasion and they accepted the date of actual application to Immigration, this was a special request and should not form part of your calculations. This means that you will continue to be a fiscal resident in your previous country unless or until the bankl has received the Andorran fiscal certificate.

Te issue of the certificate does not necessarily mean you will be required to declare and pay tax, but logically that will become the next step where institutions wherever may require prooof of an actual return. If you require fiscal residency in Andorra then 10% after allowances is arguably a reasonable price to pay.
If you require a  fiscal certificate please contact me.
Operating a Bank Account in Andorra


Andorra is probably one of the few countries in the world where bank employee liability runs parallel with corporate liability. there is a maximum prison sentence for a bank employee of seven years and a fine of € 500,000 if he is proven to be acting negligently in accepting funds from a fraudulent or criminal source. For that reason, importing money to Andorra may require further proof of the source of funds before the transfer is accepted.

Operation of non-resident accounts are now becoming increasingly restricted in most banks here, there is a quarterly fee and as Andorra has signed up to the exchange of financial information all will be sent to your country of fiscal residence. (see opposite)

Based on current compliance policy it is very difficult and often impossible for a foreign company to open an account in Andorra unless theree is commitment (most likely in the form of residency for one or more of the company shareholders/directors). Andorra is not open to  foreign companies or individuals simply whose sole aim it is to take advantage of the lower rate of tax or to avoid other 3rd country taxes.

You must be here in Andorra and in person with your passport to open an account (there are few exceptions involving representative overseas offices), I have read on the internet offers to open an Andorran bank account by filling in online forms with your personal details. I can assure you that under no circumstances will you be the proud owner of an Andorran bank account, so beware!

As an update on this Feb 2019, Mora Banc now can open an account by means of a digital signature, this is predominantly for those who will apply for residency and at some stage of course you wil be required to physically show yourself and residency card to finalise that procedure. Needless to say this is a proactive way to overcome the all importnat bank hurdle and have an account in place for the residency application.
The banks already are policing Fiscal Residency....
The banks are already applying the new taxation and fiscal residency tests and requirements for new and eventually existing residents. That is the way Andorra is heading, the tax office with such limited manpower and scope for any investigations will come to rely on the banks  for the enforcement of fiscal residency rules.

The banks now for new residents and new accounts are requiring proof not only of fiscal residency in a country but also of the payment of tax in that country. If you are applying to Andorra to become a fiscal resident and you have not yet been paying taxes in any other jurisdiction you may have a hard job to explain to compliance those reasons, more than likely the bank will say no to the account. If there is a legitimate reason for not yet being a fiscal resident in any country, and realistically there are still quite a few reasons,  and you have pleaded that you will become a fiscal resident of Andorra the banks may open an account subject to the Andorran tax return for the following year being submitted to them.

That also will carry the proviso that you have declared and paid tax on your worldwide income after any exemptions and allowances as prescribed by the Andorran tax laws. After all during the banks due diligence examination you will already probably have had to "declare" most of your current financial status to them so they wil have a pretty good idea whether you have followed the fiscal rules in making your declaration here. Whereas there is still no compulsion for reporting to Government ( and that will change) they may be quick to close your account which will leave the new resident high and dry in Andorra without an account.

As Andorra moves forward into the tax paying 21st Century ( albeit  low tax) the authorities here are making it now quite clear that they have little time for tax nomads or for those seeking to use passive residency to top up their days in the year to avoid paying taxes in any other country.  The above requirements are already up and running for new residents, it may logically be that they start examining existing account holders and that sooner than anticipated you may be required to become a fiscal resident in Andorra and prove that you are paying taxes. For those who had accounts opened many ions ago with a good old passport and a bag of cash you may wish to start thinking about getting your house in order.

Foreign transfers to Andorra


Accounts here normally operate as multi-currency which means you can transfer any currency such as Sterling or US Dollars to your Andorran bank account and it will be credited in the currency received.

I advise anyone transferring money in Andorra to change the currency here upon receipt and not to change to Euros in the country from which you are sending.

How Do Andorran Banks Compare?


• Capitalisation is high with a “solvency ratio” of about 23% compared with a worldwide legal requirement of 10%,

• Liquidity is good with an “aggregated loan to deposit ratio” below 70% compared with over 100% in most European commercial banks,

• Stress test results in 2010 were as good as any other financial centre,


Local Banks in Andorra


There are 5 main banks in Andorra, but one will notice the absence of the usual array of UK and foreign institutions. However all banks are efficient, online, and subject to due diligence and anti-money laundering directives.

Listed below are the five banks in Andorra together with links to their websites. Please note this list is for the purposes of a guide only and does not constitute advertising in any way:-


   


 Morabanc Group


Asset Management Service, Mora Banc offers a personalised solution to customers with a significant volume of assets, requiring active and professional management for their financial assets. Best Commercial Bank Andorra in 2017, granted by The International Banker





  Crèdit Andorrà

Commercial & Private Banking.
Crèdit Andorrà retains the best private bank in Andorra award granted by The Banker and PWM 08/11/2018


  Andbank

Providing a personalised service in private banking and asset management for customers all over the world for over 120 years.
                                                                                                                                                                    



 https://www.vallbanc.ad/eng

The new bank in Andorra, the only foreign owned bank ( J C Flowers Group). The bank is still in the opening process and is reported to be progressing well. Thie replaces BPA which was named by FinCEN in USA in connection with alleged money laundering.




 Banc de Sabadell d'Andorra

Private and commercial banking, plus online banking and other services.





New Andorra Euro
Andorra's Banks into 2019
Gone are the days when you could walk in with a passport and be given a numbered account.

The golden rule now is 100% transparency, and if they have any doubt, no matter how remote they will say "no" rather than risking the wrath of the USA and other institutional blacklists, don't get me wrong, this is  a major headache now to open a new account company or personal. Expect a financial rape, a process that is second to none in my and clients experience, but  if you do have anything to hide, or are unwilling to disclose any area of your banking history then do not apply. Each bank  has developed their own interpretations of various regulatory diktats from international organisations resulting in a required analysis before the initial approach is made and I ave guides for you on that at the initial preparation stage.

Andorra has and continues to evolve from a secretive tax haven to a more open and accepted financial system, at least enough to be removed from the list of fiscal paradises. So with pressure from the OECD, EU and the global community Andorra and its banking system has yielded to pressure and strictly enforces due diligence. This due diligence requirement has again been strengthened in the light of the BPA scandal.

In fact the compliance departments in in all of the banks are being difficult, particularly where company accounts are involved. It is easier for a bank here to say no rather than having any shade of doubt whatsoever in opening a new account ( and the same goes for personal accounts). Andorran banks are primarily interetsed in private banking, the average retail high street bank is not their main concern. If you are willing to show commitment both to Andorra AND to the bank itself ( in the form of active investments) then they will  be more symapthetic, to the inactive account holders whose sole  purpose for residency is tax avoidance or tax evasion ( dare I say?) you may well be turned away. For company accounts, the same criteria applies, you need to show commitment to Andorra, and not just a convenience company.

In fact, due diligence now forms a major role in the residency process, far more so than before. To this end I do have a guide for potential residency applicants who must have a local bank account to proceed with residency. Theoretically it is possible to continue with residency after being denied a local account but in practice this is extremely difficult and complicated. I now recommend two bank accounts in separate banks which I can arrange for you. Two separate bank accounts does not insinuate a specific risk to account holders but there is always the old adage of not having all eggs in one basket, particularly now after the BPA scandal. By having two bank accounts it gives residents choices, and each bank offers different products and services.

In general, the banking system here remains  secure, BPA was an isolated incident and the Government was quick to react. It is noted in Credit Rating Agencies that there is no central bank or bank or last resort and that Andorra's GDP is dwarfed by private banking investment. Fitch recently removed the negative outlook for Andorra at BBB but this is still far below the former A- before the European crisis and BPA. Solvency ratios in each of the 4 remaining functioning banks here remain well above the globally recommended ratios, indeed some of Andorra's banks are within the top ten most solvent banks in Europe.

If you do intend to open a bank account and some banks still do offer services for non-residents or whether you intend to become a resident please contact me to discuss in the first instance, you need to be prepared and things can go wrong without the correct advice. Please scroll down for a further overview of the banks here.

August 13, 2018: Fitch Rating upgrades Andorra to BBB+ and improves its confidence in the country’s economy


On August 10 Fitch Ratings upgraded Andorra’s rating to BBB+ with a stable outlook. The Agency also improved the short-term foreign currency to F2 from F3 as well as the country ceiling which has been revised to A+ from A-.


The agency highlighted the fact that in 2017, public sector indebtedness fell below 40% for the first time since 2011 and that the Government recorded a small surplus of 9 million euro. The agency expects the stabilisations of activity in the financial sector and positive growth dynamics in other sectors to translate to overall real GDP growth in the next years.

The upgrade reflects the balance between the country’s wealth, political stability, the improvement of public finances and financial flexibility.

The effort made by the Andorran authorities to continue to align the regulatory environment, especially in the financial sector, with international and European standards, including the adoption of international standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes are viewed positively by the Agency.
residency@livinginandorra.com
+376 836255
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