President-elect Mauricio Macri said over and over again while campaigning that, were he to be elected, he would get rid of the restrictions on purchasing foreign currency imposed by outgoing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner during her second term in office and that the so-called blue dollar would be a thing of the past. And while many of us thought he was bluffing and even considered it a bad idea, it looks like Macri is planning to deliver.
According to several local media outlets, the infamous restrictions (known in Spanish as cepo) will magically disappear after Macri’s inauguration on December 10, and soon (possibly before March) virtually everyone will once again be able to run to the bank and hoard dollars (otherwise known as “real money.”)
Is this confirmed? Well, let’s just go with “sort of.”
This week, the President-elect insisted that restrictions on the dollar will go away as soon as he takes office and people looking to purchase foreign currency will be able to go to the bank to exchange their pesos for dollars, euros, reais or Thai bahts. And while we’re still waiting for an official explanation as to what sort of sorcery they are planning to enact in order to take us back to a time when people were free to spend their hard-earned pesos in any way they wanted, the local media is already detailing parts of his alleged plan.
According to Fortuna and Ambito Financiero, a few controls will remain in place but most restrictions will be going away. For instance, if you’re an Argentine citizen or you’re a legal resident in the country, all you will need is your DNI and your unique taxpayer ID number, known here as clave fiscal. If you don’t have one yet, you need to go to AFIP to find out if you qualify to get one (if you don’t have a CUIT and/or CUIL number, chances are you don’t.)
The AFIP website offers some information about how to get one but, be aware, it’s very user unfriendly.
So if you’re a private citizen with a DNI and a clave fiscal, that’s all you will need to buy dollars, and while we still don’t know what the limit to the amount you can extract will be, Fortuna says it will be “pretty high, almost as if there was no limit.”
However, be aware that once you have made the purchase, AFIP will check that the amount you acquired is compatible with your monthly registered income. So let’s say that if you make AR$20,000 a month but you purchase US$1 million, that will raise several red flags and you’ll probably be in trouble.
If you’re a tourist (or a “tourist” who visits Uruguay once every three months, wink wink) that means that you don’t qualify for a clave fiscal. But not to worry! According to Fortuna, you will still be able to purchase foreign currency by showing your passport, although allegedly the purchase limit “will be significantly lower.”
So there you have it. My suggestion is that you remain cautiously optimistic about this since we still need to hear from the actual administration.
But you may be able to buy dollars sooner rather than later.
The sky is the limit! No, actually, scrap that.
It’s AFIP. AFIP is the limit.