Deadline to verify, update customer information at Costa Rican banks quickly approaching

December 17, 2013

If you own a bank account in Costa Rica, take note: Costa Rican law requires both individual and corporate bank account owners to verify personal information every year, and report any changes to that information. This year’s deadline to fulfill that requirement is Sunday, Dec. 22. 

Changes in personal information that must be reported include: address, occupation, phone numbers, employers and income, among others, according to the Costa Rican Banking Association (ABC), which overseas the implementation of the law.

According to ABC President Gilberto Serrano, account holders who do not verify or update their personal information by Sunday could have their accounts blocked or closed.

“Ideally, everyone will comply with this requirement in order to ensure that banks verify customer information,” Jaime Murillo, president of the ABC’s Compliance Committee, said.

The law, No. 8.204, is designed to detect money laundering, terrorism funding and other financial crimes. All financial institutions under the supervision of Costa Rica’s Financial Institution Superintendency (SUGEF) must keep customer information up to date.

The procedures to implement the law are outlined when a customer signs a contract to open a bank account.

“All of the information is protected under the utmost standards of security,” Serrano said. Banks are subject to a Bank Secrecy Law, meaning banking information cannot be disclosed to third parties unless a judge issues an order, he added. 

Bank employees cannot ask for confidential information such as passwords, personal identification numbers for ATM’s, or account balances.

The law includes anyone living abroad who has a bank account in Costa Rica. However, in those cases, if there is little or no banking activity in the accounts, customers can comply with the law every two years, ABC said. 

Procedure

Updating your personal information at a Costa Rican bank takes approximately 10-15 minutes at the front desk of any bank.

For individual account holders:

1. Go to the customer service area of the bank where you own an account.

2. Present all documents to confirm your personal and work information. Every customer must present at least: a Social Security employer’s slip (Orden Patronal) or income certification issued by a Certified Public Accountant for self-employed workers. Customers also will need personal identification and a public utilities bill (water, electricity, telephone) to verify an address.

3. Foreign residents must provide documentation to certify legal status in the country.

4. Fill out and sign the “Know Your Customer” (Conozca a su Cliente) form with your personal and employment information.

For corporations:

1. Go to the customer service area of each bank where your corporation owns an account.

2. Present all documents to certify your financial information for the last fiscal year, including: certification of account books, accounting records, financial statements of the last audited fiscal period signed by the corporation’s attorney and accountant, etc.

3. Fill out and sign the “Know Your Customer” (Conozca a su Cliente) form.

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