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The Byzantine World of Mexican Banking


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Even a Mexican passport is not accepted in all cases.. the INE for a Mexican is the only ID that s accepted without a question by all the banks.

I just read the blofg. It may be a nice story for a blog but what happened is totally normal. If you do not want to go through this transfer money. There are laws against money laundering and cash is suspect , very suspect now .. so transfer. and you will not be questioned.

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My bank accepts my permanent resident card as ID. And I don't understand why you think it's weird, Harry, to have to let them know your account number, if you didn't go in with your bank card. When I do a deposit or withdrawal at my Mexican bank, I have to just put my debit card in the little card reader at the tellers window and show my ID. It's no big deal. 

And if you walked into your NOB bank with 20,000 Mexican pesos in cash to deposit would it really just end up being a quick and easy operation?

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You have that one right Mudgirl.. 


WHen I left France for a year, I had a bank account and I gave my mother power of attorney.. When I came back married several years later, My French ID had expired and they had added  spouse of Plummer to my maiden name. I went to the bank to close the account and pull the money and was turned down as I had no valid ID  and French passports there are not accepted as valid ID.  I argued with them and they also told me that my name had been modified so no deal.. My mother had to pull the money and close the account.. D

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Hi Guys,

Well, I was hoping to write something amusing, to bring a chuckle or at least a smile into our lives.  I guess that failed.  Did you notice the "funny" tag?  That probably didn't help.  Anyway, in my mind, (yes I know, you don't have access to that), I was trying to (humorously) point out some of the absurdities of "the system" Namely:

1. How little Mexican banks trust their tellers.  All of the information they needed to complete the transaction was available to them, but the guy behind the window couldn't access any of it.
2. This was a deposit, n'est pas?  I would sympathies more with "the system" if it were a withdrawal, but I was trying to put money INTO their bank, and INTO my own account.
3. Once the teller had my name, he should have been able to pull up my passport on his screen to confirm that it was really me.  The account information, including my account number should have been there too.  The transaction would have taken 2 minutes instead of 20.  Who designs a system like this?
4. Five separate fingerprint scans?  Really?

On other occasions, I have written what I thought were perfectly valid checks that were rejected by my bank for what I think are "bogus reasons."  I have two examples of this.

1. I once left out the word "pesos" on the check.  Everything else was correct, the date, numbers (both numeric and in Spanish) the signature etc.  But the bank refused to cash it because I left out the word pesos.  I'm sure the poor guy I was trying to pay had to stand in line for half an hour to get his money was very happy.  I'm sure some of you will point out that I was an :() and wrong and should learn how to write an f**ing check for leaving off the word pesos, but really, who is the bank protecting with this kind of stuff?  Could there possibly have been ANY QUESTION about what I was trying to do?  Could the teller, (or the bank manager) possibly have thought: "Hmmm, I wonder if he wants British Pounds, or Euros, Albanian Leks?"  I don't think so.

2. I once wrote a check, in which I did include the word pesos, for Una Mil pesos & 00/100 M. N.  along with the numeric $1000.00 in the proper box.  Apparently the teller could not decipher what I wanted, and the check was rejected.  I was told that I should have written Un Mil pesos, not Una.  Has common sense left the planet?  I can understand rejecting a check if the amount is ambiguous, but in this case what else could I have meant?

I feel sorry for Mexico about this.  I would like to see Mexico become a wealthy and prosperous country, but with this kind of obstructionist system, which happens not just in banking but almost anywhere in "officialdom" that is going to be a long and difficult road.  Wouldn't it be nice if banks, and other institutions, went out of their way to assist customers and promote commerce, instead of finding ways to impede it.

Best wishes,

Henry Laxen

So now, everyone, please feel free to point out my shortcomings.  Helpful comments like:

"What is so difficult to understand about that." sic
"Perhaps it is just me, but there's nothing interesting enough to read that could get me to click a hinky link like that."
-- I might point out that if that link hacks your computer, at least you know who to blame.
"And if you walked into your NOB bank with 20,000 Mexican pesos in cash to deposit would it really just end up being a quick and easy operation?"
-- I have walked into a US bank with $1000USD = $20,000Pesos many times, and received quick and efficient service with a smile.


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Henry I sympathize with your problems. I have been dealing with HSBC at Laguna Mall for several days. They seem to have forgotten that my account is a Premier one and they have been debting my account for service charges that should not be. So I have to phone Mexico City to tell them  that even though my debit and credit cards from HSBC clearly say Premier. Only MC can deal with that. I have tried phoning MC quite a few times from the bank and from my home but there English option is not working. 

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1 minute ago, dano1948 said:

Sounds to me like your having issues adapting to life in Mexico...Its just not that hard.....

It sounds more like Henry is dealing with a stupid, illogical system

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1 hour ago, cedros said:

It sounds more like Henry is dealing with a stupid, illogical system



Google Translation:

"Popular movements manifest themselves with marches and seedlings; if the government tries to prevent it, they accuse him of criminalizing social protest; to which it always yields. However, no one complains about the unjust criminalization of the government against the citizens whom he treats in the laws as potential criminals and forces them to investigate and report probable crimes; threatening them with fines and the initiation of criminal investigations if they do not do what is ordered.

An example is the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Operations with Resources of Illicit Origin. She determines that, based on certain values, they are vulnerable activities, that is, they can be carried out with illicit resources, among others, real estate developments; the commercialization of precious metals, jewels, watches, works of art and automobiles; donations to associations; the lease of real estate; some acts before notaries, such as real estate sales, granting of irrevocable powers for acts of ownership, the incorporation of companies and credit agreements.

The Law prohibits paying with national and foreign currencies and bills the operations that exceed the values that it has determined; from which it must be paid by check or bank transfer. It imposes to merchants, builders, real estate agents and notaries, the following obligations in relation to their clients: I. Identify and verify their identity. II. Request information about your activity according to the Federal Taxpayers Registry. III. Request information on the existence of third parties that benefit from the operation. IV. Keeping the information. V. Identify the payment method. SAW. Give notice to the competent authority when the operation exceeds the values established in the Law.

Finally, passing on the Constitution, fines for noncompliance are confiscatory: the minimum is 200 to 2,000 days of the minimum wage of the DF, but in most cases it can be from 10,000 to 65,000 thousand days.

The above, despite the unfair burden of work, expenses and the risk of being sanctioned, would be acceptable if there were a real, general and effective fight against money laundering; unfortunately, laws such as the one mentioned above are imposed on Mexico due to pressure from abroad and do not have the proposed effects; on the contrary, they jeopardize the heritage and freedom of honest and fiscally captive citizens and hinder the development of their businesses."


If you and Henry know nothing of Mexico's systems and laws regarding depositing cash in bank accounts and he waltzes into his bank with 10 crisp new 100 USD bills with no photo ID except a drivers licence and no debit card for his account and doesn't even know his account number and no INE card or passport I suspect the stupid, illogical ones are you and Henry, not the bank employees who know the system Mexico enforces upon them by federal law and are abiding by the federal laws requiring proper/legally accepted ID and proof of identity according to the instructions from their institute. IMO

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Thanks, Henry, for sharing your humorous story. I especially liked the little homage to Memento, to Memento, to Memento.

I think we can all agree that dealing with any Mexican bureaucracy can be frustrating. Sometimes there is a good explanation, for example, the fingerprint scan probably wasn't five separate checks. It was either the same check which didn't "take" or didn't "check out" with a database. When the all-powerful USG rolled out Global Entry, their first fingerprint scanners would do the same thing. Eventually they fined tuned the devices to work the first try.

Some of your difficulties were just a failure to communicate. You mention the un vs una problem: different words. Try cashing a check in the US for "won million dollars."

I agree that most customer service situations in Mexico can be difficult. I think tellers et al are trained to do just what they are told, so things like "looking up" an account number, which seem quite obvious, are not in the playbook. As you suggest, sometimes all one can do is laugh.

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Google Translation:

"Documents allowed by the Financial Institutions

Has it happened to you that you are going to the bank or some Financial Institution but you are not able to carry out the desired process or movement because you do not carry any document that allows you to identify yourself?

Keep in mind that Financial Institutions must identify, evaluate and take actions to reduce the risks of illegal operations, so they implement user identification and knowledge policies, to mitigate the possibility of such an event.

As a user of financial products and services, it is your duty to inform yourself and know the valid personal identification documents and thus not make unnecessary visits to these institutions, pay close attention:

Documents issued by the Mexican authorities that allow you to identify yourself:

Voting card IFE/INE


Professional card

National military service card

Consular registration certificate

Unique military identity card

Membership card to the National Institute of Older Adults (INAPAM)

Credentials and cards issued by the IMSS, ISSSTE, by the Social Security Institute for the Mexican Armed Forces or by the Seguro Popular

Driver's license

Documentation issued by the National Migration Institute that accredits the immigration quality for persons of foreign nationality

Financial Institutions must identify, evaluate and take actions to reduce the risks of illegal operations."

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9 hours ago, henrylaxen said:

I have walked into a US bank with $1000USD = $20,000Pesos many times, and received quick and efficient service with a smile.

I wasn't referring to walking into your NOB bank with US dollars to deposit. I was referring to walking in with a foreign curency to deposit, as you did when you went to deposit $1000US in a Mexican bank account.

As for the bank not trusting its tellers, well, this a country rife with corruption. It's no different than having to go to the bank to pay for your residency permit or your yearly car registration here, rather than handing the $ to the office agent. It's an added level of security and while it can be frustrating, I'm grateful for it.

But I do agree that some of it seems ridiculously elaborate. I can never figure out, for instance, why it seems to take no shorter than at least 10 minutes for a transaction at the teller, no matter how simple. Once I get to the head of the line in Canada, a simple withdrawal or deposit is effected in about 2 minutes. 

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