AdSense & EFT Payments In Non-US Currencies

As anyone can see, I run AdSense here on Daggle. It’s more for playing and
seeing how it works than any big money maker. At some point, I’ve promised
Jennifer Slegg to go onto her
Click This!
podcast and throw all my AdSense newbie questions her way. There are so many
things I find odd about how it works. This post is about one of those, trying to
get paid in US dollars if you’re not based in the US.

As my traffic went up and my AdSense placements improved, I started getting a
check each month, rather than once or twice per year. These checks come to me in
US dollars, sent to my UK address. Depositing them either meant waiting until my
next trip back to the US, to put them in my bank there, or firing them off to my
US dollar account with Citibank UK (which I
highly recommend for any
expats). The account is great, but it started to be a pain to be mailing these
physical checks off to Citibank.

I decided to get all digital and have my funds sent electronically to my US
bank in the US. I headed over to the My Account area in AdSense, went to Account
Settings, Payment Details, Add A New Bank Account and stalled.

There was no place to give my US account number and bank routing number.
Instead, everything was oriented for UK accounts, which use sort codes and
account numbers. Ugh.

I asked AdSense support about this and was told that I could only have
electronic payments made to my listed country of residence — the UK — for "tax
and security" reasons.

Ah, security. I can’t tell you the number of times that gets trotted out when
I have to deal with some banking issue in the US from the UK. I usually feel
it’s just a convenient excuse for "you’re a weird situation, we don’t want to
deal with that."

Fine. How about changing my account to a US address. Nope, it turns out you
can’t do that. Once you list a country for your AdSense account, apparently you
have to live in that country for all eternity. There goes my plans to retire
back home in California. Thanks, AdSense, for robbing me of my golden years :)

Alternatively, you can close your AdSense account and create a new one, I was
told. I declined that fun option. Instead, I decided to do EFT to my US dollar
account that’s based in the UK.

That led to another problem. To verify an account, AdSense makes a small
deposit. I could see this arrive in my account. However, I couldn’t complete
verification because AdSense wanted the amount in UK pounds.

I didn’t know the amount in UK pounds, since this was a dollar account. To
know the amount, I’d have to know what exchange rate Google was using
internally, which isn’t listed. Why not try some guestimates? Well, you get four
tries, then you lock out that account for EFT purposes permanently.

I followed up with Google on this, and it got even more complex. AdSense
support said it was likely Google converted from dollars to pounds to send the
deposit, then the bank converted again from pounds back to dollars since this is
a dollar-based account. What a pain!

So there it sits, my account all unverified. Meanwhile, I was able to set up
a UK pound account to do EFTs. The downside to this is that the payments will be
changed to whatever rate Google decides, rather than you changing up when you
prefer.

That brings me to an email I got from AdSense today, telling me to sign-up
for EFT! Out of the blue, it highlighted all the problems I had:

  • We can only make EFT payments to bank accounts in your country of
    residence. This means that if your AdSense account is in the US, we can’t
    make payments to your UK bank account.
     
  • We can only make EFT payments in your local currency. For example, if
    you live in Canada but your bank account is in US dollars, your bank may not
    accept these payments or they may convert your payment to US Dollars. So
    that your AdSense payment is not converted twice, we recommend that you use
    a bank account in your country’s local currency.

I hope these problems go away. In particular, I’d urge AdSense to:

  • Make it possible to change your country of residence.
     
  • Make it possible to pay to accounts in more than one country.
     
  • Make it possible to indicate the base currency of an account in any
    country, so that I can ensure dollars into a UK-based dollar account stay in
    dollars. Yes, Virginia, people outside the US can indeed have accounts based
    in dollars.

If it helps, link some of these extended options to what tax information is
provided to AdSense. Google has my US taxpayer ID. They know I’ve got a US-based
connection. There’s no particular security reason to then prevent me from paying
into a US-based account.


Comments

  1. says

    It sounds like the easiest option might be to setup a new UK bank account with someone like Barclays, although I agree it definitely shouldn’t be that difficult to get a payment!

  2. says

    I am based in Spain and Google sends me the money by transfer into my bank account, in euros, no problem there, thank you :)
    But I would also like to have the possibility to change my country of residence. What if I want to move to US?
    And why not make it possible to pay to accounts in more than one country? Google Adwords sees no problem asking me for “backup credit card”…
    Best regards D.S. I enjoy your WBMRadio shows.
    Pex

  3. robertsq says

    The “security” angle here is money laundering, which encompases drugs, organized crime, terrorism, and tax cheats. This kind of stuff is not new and not specifically terrorism related.
    By the way, it’s not really smart for expats to blog about issues concerning bank accounts, taxes, real estate, voting domicile and the like. And make sure you’re filing a TD F 90-22.1 every year (especially after this blog post!).

  4. says

    I don’t see why it’s any less smart for expats to blog about issues they have with bank accounts, etc., than if I weren’t an expat. We go through a lot of extra hassles, sometimes for no particularly good reason. I definitely understand that the security issues may have predated terrorism — that’s simply what gets pushed out these days as the new reason for the rules. And I don’t mind rules, if they actually were helpful. But in this case, when I’m a known US filer with that info on file with Google, there’s no particular security reason not to pay me within the US, if I so choose. As for that form, yeah — I know all about it. See It’s Form 90-22.1 Time Again For American Expats, The Annual Waste Of Time Exercise.