Precious Metals Internationally the Essentials
The Nestmann Group, Ltd.
by Mark Nestmann: New
Requirement to Report ALL Offshore Assets May Foreshadow U.S. 'Wealth Tax'
received a number of questions from readers about moving gold and
precious metals internationally. Its been awhile since Ive
discussed this topic, so I thought this might be a good time to
Q. Why should
U.S. citizens or residents consider storing precious metals overseas?
on your personal circumstances, and the manner in which you hold
the metals, keeping them outside the United States may provide significant
asset protection if you are named in a judgment. In addition, if
the U.S. government were to order the confiscation of gold and silver,
as it did in 1933, metals kept offshore might be better protected
than those held domestically.
Q. What is
the best way to move metals overseas, especially if you own large
A. I like the
idea of using a company like Brinks or ViaMat. They take care of
everything including the customs and tax declarations, if any, both
out of the United States and into another country. If you move it
yourself have to be very careful because no matter what the law
is and no matter what spoken or written assurances you have, theres
no guarantee that you wont be harassed either leaving the
United States, passing through an airport in another country, or
going through customs when you get to your final destination. However,
with careful preparation this is possible.
in certain cases is a like-kind exchange under Sec. 1031 of the
U.S. Tax Code. A 1031 exchange may be appropriate if youre
converting from physical possession to allocated storage to overseas
storage, from coins to bars to exchange traded funds, from gold
to silver, etc. The major issue is that you cannot make a direct
conversion from a domestic asset to an offshore asset, or vice-versa.
However, there are some workarounds possible to deal with this issue.
Q. Do you recommend
any particular shipping agents?
A. Brinks or
ViaMat are both bonded and in the business of shipping metals worldwide.
ViaMat offers secure offshore storage in Switzerland as well.
Q. What if
you want to transport the metals yourself?
A. There are
no guarantees. For large quantities, its best if you appoint
an import agent to handle everything for you. You will generally
post a bond through the agent payable to the customs agency in whatever
country you are bringing the metals into. The bond covers whatever
taxes are due (if any) plus the agents fee. You bring in the
metals, present the paperwork from the import agent to the customs
inspector, and then take the metals to wherever you want to store
Or you can
make two trips. Make your first trip with just one or two coins
or bars. Declare the coins (if required) when you leave the United
States and when you arrive in your destination country and see what
happens. While youre there, find out from the customs officials
themselves what the import requirements are. If necessary, find
an agent to represent you when you bring in a larger quantity.
heard from one source that metal detectors used at airports do not
detect gold bullion coins. Is this true?
not an expert on metal detectors but it is my understanding they
identify metal by detecting electrical conductivity. Gold is one
of the most conductive metals, so I dont see why airport metal
detectors wouldnt be able to identify gold bullion coins or
any other form of gold.
Q. Where are
the safest countries to bring in gold? What is the maximum amount
you can import without needing to make a declaration?
A. I would
declare the gold no matter how much you are bringing in, but especially
if it has a value more than $10,000 or the equivalent in foreign
currency. Switzerland is one of the safest countries in which to
import gold. There is no import tax or value-added tax on most forms
of gold, near-zero corruption, and there are secure tax-free storage
facilities at the Zurich airport.
Q. When you
move bullion coins internationally, do you value them according
to their face value or their market value?
A. It depends.
When you export gold from the United States, for instance, you declare
it on a Treasury form by face value (but ask a customs agent to
make sure he/she agrees) if that value exceeds $10,000 and on a
census form by market value if the value exceeds $2,500. Your metals
may be confiscated and you may be liable to fines/imprisonment if
you dont fill out both forms.
and customs duties on imports of precious metals into a foreign
country may be based on face value or spot value. There is no consistency.
In many cases, youll pay whatever VAT would apply if you purchased
the metals in that country. Silver and platinum are subject to VAT
by more countries than gold, and VAT on coins is imposed more often
than on bars.
Q. Do you have
any other suggestions?
A. Yes, the
newly-updated fourth edition of my book The
Lifeboat Strategy contains an extensive discussion on moving
metals out of the United States. To learn more about this book,
with permission from The
Nestmann Group, Ltd.
Nestmann [send him mail]
is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience
and is a charter member of The
Sovereign Society’s Council of Experts. He has authored over
a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation,
privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his
own international consulting firm, The
Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international
wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark
is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of
subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee
on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international
tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business
© 2011 Mark
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