If you’ve been following our apartment quest, you’ll recall from this post that we got permission from Citibank in Bogotá to open an account here in Barranquilla. We filed all the paperwork last Friday (a week ago) and were told that it would be open by Tuesday. On Tuesday, the bank representative told us Wednesday. On Wednesday, we were told that there was still no reply. On Thursday (yesterday), my husband Gio decided to do what generally seems to work best – go ask in person.
When Gio walked into the banker’s office, she was on the phone with Bogotá concerning our account. Apparently, they declined to open it because Gio did not have his cédula, or Colombian ID card. Gio explained last Friday that he has his temporary card – the contraseña – and that he had already been waiting four months for the real one and will hopefully have it soon. The special permission that we got from Citibank in Bogotá was precisely because he has only the temporary card. The snafu seemed to occur because the banker who helped us in Barranquilla submitted his account paperwork with only his Colombian passport info instead of his cédula number from the contraseña. Interestingly, here in Colombia (or at least Barranquilla – I am not sure whether it is the same in the rest of the country), even a passport – even a COLOMBIAN passport – is not sufficient ID. Everything has to be connected to your national ID number.
Our banker in Barranquilla called Bogotá to explain the situation. To Gio’s dismay, the banker – who really was trying to help – kept telling Bogotá repeatedly, “It’s almost like he’s a Colombian citizen!” Gio IS a Colombian citizen. He has dual citizenship with the U.S. Gio took deep Zen breaths while Bogotá gave the permission again to open the account as long as the paperwork was resubmitted with his cédula number.
A few hours later, to our thrill and relief, Gio-the-almost-Colombian-citizen managed to open a for-real Colombian bank account.
Causing us even more joy, this morning Gio successfully got approval from Bank of America to put himself with his Colombian Citibank account as a wire recipient, and we were able to set up a wire transfer online. Within a few days (keep your fingers crossed!), we may actually be able to access our own money to open the big fat CD for our apartment. Hooray!!!
As for why I am not a co-owner or authorized user of this Citibank account, well, that is a story for another day.
[Important side note: I cannot blame Colombia for their strict regulations concerning the opening and use of bank accounts. From what I have been told, it is all part of the country’s serious effort to deter the drug trade. The only issue for us, really, has been the delay in getting Gio’s real, instead of temporary, ID card. Kudos to Colombia for all the progress made!]