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How to handle problems with US Address Verification


by @simplgy | 5yr  | 10 comments

Iโ€™ve been a Traveling Mailbox member for about a year. My last yearโ€™s tax return, all financial institutions, vehicle registration, and driverโ€™s license all reflect this address.

It looks like an apartment address: 75 N Woodward Ave #####, Tallahassee FL.

In the last few weeks, Iโ€™ve been having problems.

  1. I requested a voter registration renewal in Florida and it was denied on the grounds that I am using a business address
  2. My bank (Ally) contacted me, saying that my address was a โ€œmaildropโ€ location, and needed to be a physical domicile.

My theory is that this Traveling Mailbox location has been flagged as a maildrop in whatever database these agencies use and will continue to be a problem, so Iโ€™m looking for a new strategy.

Questions:

  • What am I supposed to do? I donโ€™t have or want a permanent home.
  • If these agencies object to my address, will the IRS or the California tax board? (audits? residency challenges?)

Some ideas:

  • Use a โ€œnext of kinโ€ address for legal reasons, and traveling mailbox as a mailing address. My bank allowed this. I think this means I need to declare residency in the state of my next-of-kin, which is not preferred.
  • Find a smaller mail services provider that is less likely to be flagged as a business/maildrop location (They may be flagged later and Iโ€™ll have to change addresses. Iโ€™ll miss the digital scanned mail feature. Also, is any mail service legal to use as a residence now?)

@nickdanforth, you had this same problem in Apr 2015, any solutions work well for you?

@nomadicme, sounds like youโ€™ve had the same problem, too.

What can we do about this, folks? Seems like as full-time travellers we should be able to pick any state in the US to be our residence, but banning certain types of addresses is really making it difficult.

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@lucha54 | 5yr

This same thing happened to me when I tried to get the coveted Charles Schwab ATM card to use abroad (the one where they reverse the fees). Iโ€™m originally from CA and spend 2-3 weeks/year there visiting family but I traveled to FL last year to set up domicile and get my license with my address at St Brendanโ€™s Isle mailing service. The people at Charles Schwab asked me to call and then said that they knew it was a mailing service, I said I was โ€˜studying abroad at the momentโ€™ and would otherwise be staying with my sister when in the country - they told me to get on her utility bill and send it in. Well, that was not possible so I just dropped the whole thing. When I signed up at the DMV in FL they asked if I wanted to register to vote and I said no at the time (didnโ€™t want to deal with mail about jury duty etc) but now I realize I should have!! I could vote in a swing state! :smile:

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@lightmotif | 5yr

What kind of bank account do you have? I have a business bank account for my sole proprietorship, and use a commercial mailbox address for that, never had any problems. I think I even mentioned to the bank manager that it was a commercial mailbox. I imagine you probably need a personal account too, but could you switch that to an online one (like CaptialOne 360)? Iโ€™m not sure if this would solve all your problems, but itโ€™s an option.

I personally use my parentsโ€™ address as my home address for other things like health insurance and credit cards (and my personal bank account), and am not sure if my commercial mailbox would work for all of that. And there is a personal section of the tax return and then my business (sole proprietor) bit, so I guess I need a residential address for taxes, not sure โ€“ but I do pay taxes out of my business account.

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@lightmotif | 5yr

Sorry, I just read this more closely โ€“ you mentioned a traveling mailbox. I use a commercial mailbox service with a physical address, which might work for all your needs (even personal bank account)โ€ฆ you would need to get your mail forwarded from there I guess, and they do offer forwarding services but Iโ€™m not sure of the details.

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@nomadicme | 5yr

I have run into similar problems but it isnโ€™t widespread. Some banks have caught on to my cmra and have required a physical address. Others havenโ€™t. What I suggest doing is finding a friend (anyone will do) who will place you on one of their utility bills. That can be used as proof of address. You can pick whatever State you want - but know that this will be considered your primary State for tax purposes. So choose wisely. You canโ€™t mess around with that as States are aggressive when trying to collect taxes. So, if Florida is truly your State of residence (which means that you have some connection to it, e.g., formerly lived there, drivers license is from there, cmra is from there, storage unit is there with stuff, etc. - then itโ€™s legit. However, I notice you mention CA in the original message. So if CA is where you spend most of your time but you use a cmra in FL to avoid CA taxes this is not suggested. CA can request you to provide your bills (credit cards, checks, etc.) to see where you spend most of your time (even if you travel around). If they see you in CA at all, you could be on the hook for taxes. My point is donโ€™t play games here. Just find a friend in the State you claim as your actual State for tax purposes.

For banks that donโ€™t catch the mail receiving address - just leave the cmra as is. @jakeberger - your idea will not work as banks require a physical address and if their system flags the cmra as such, they will not accept it. Itโ€™s not them, itโ€™s the Patriot Act and Fed requirements to stop money laundering. Ridiculous, but it is what it is.

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@bavals | 5yr

We have the same situation in Canada. Provinces where you formerly resided (especially if theyโ€™re higher-tax ones) may actually ask you to prove youโ€™re really living somewhere else โ€“ and that means not only a residential address but proof of health insurance, car registration, utilities, etc (I know our health system is quaint and foreign to most Americans, but basically it means you have to physically stay somewhere, with a residential address, at least 6 months before you can qualify for health insurance and before you are able to pay taxes at your new provinceโ€™s rate). Which implies โ€œleavingโ€ a higher-tax province is not exactly as simple as switching your mailing address. Whether this is strictly enforced is another matter.

More to the point of this thread (US mailing services), I heard that American Express started requiring residential addresses for their records too. You can still use whatever you want as your mailing address, but they also want to know where you โ€œreallyโ€ live and wonโ€™t accept Earth Class Mail, for example. I heard a claim that this is due to some new โ€œknow you customerโ€โ€“type regulations.

Which kind of suggests that, from their point of view, youโ€™re not allowed to not be living anywhere fixed, at least not if you want a bank account. I find it absurd.

p.s. A somewhat unorthodox strategy of last resort: would using a temporary address abroad work? How would they know whether itโ€™s residential or not? After all, you can be a Florida resident whoโ€™s studying abroad for a year, canโ€™t you?

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@nomadicme | 5yr

โ€œp.s. A somewhat unorthodox strategy of last resort: would using a temporary address abroad work? How would they know whether itโ€™s residential or not? After all, you can be a Florida resident whoโ€™s studying abroad for a year, canโ€™t you?โ€

@bisonravi - no you cannot. If you live abroad for the year the State still considers you a resident for tax purposes but the Banks do not as they require a US Physical address. That said, banks donโ€™t update these requirements/requests daily. Some donโ€™t even do it annually. I for one have never heard from American Express in years and my cmra is listed as my physical address. So you must be prepared to show a physical utility bill here in the US if asked. The only safe way for a true nomad is to have kin or friends get you on a utility bill (or own property and keep your name on it while traveling).

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@bavals | 5yr

Iโ€™ll be honest: I have no idea what the rules are. But I find it very difficult to believe that if a bank asked where you live and you said โ€œI am studying abroad this year and live in XYZโ€ the next thing theyโ€™d say would be โ€œoh, no, you canโ€™t do that - weโ€™ll have to close you account immediately<16>.โ€

Thousands (millions?) of Americans study and live abroad without losing access to their US bank accounts or credit cards. I myself have a friend in Montreal who has been receiving his US statements directly at his Canadian address for years without being asked any questions. Canada may be a special case, but I think other countries also work.

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@nomadicme | 5yr

I hear your point @bisonravi . And it is absolutely ludicrous! But if you cannot show/prove that you maintain a physical address via an approved document (utility bill for example) then the bank has no choice but to close your account. It is not their choice but rather part of the US Government laws that are in place post 9/11.

Now, many banks do not enforce these regulations often. That is, they run checks, but some do it annually and others do it less frequently (I have one bank where I havenโ€™t updated my address in over 7 years. And they have never asked). Plus some do not have programs in place to โ€˜catchโ€™ the cmra (mail forwarding) street addresses. But if they do check and you cannot prove you have a physical presence in the US via one of the approved documents, they must close your account.

So if you leave (as a student or worker or what have you) and do not have proof of a physical US address your account can be closed if checked and/or the bank will not allow you to open one if you didnโ€™t previously have one.

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@nickdanforth | 5yr

Honestly, I havenโ€™t done anything about it yet. Probably should soonโ€ฆ

From what I understand, the best thing to do would probably be to change services to a smaller provider that actually uses a residential address.

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@jakeberger | 5yr

I have the same service.

If this happened to me, I would call the bank and tell them that the company is an official commercial mail receiving agency (CMRA) and that I had to fill out the form for Traveling Mailbox to accept it. I would even go as far as to show them my signed USPS form 1583.

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Read and participate in 13,975 discussions on Nomad List

Suggested topics

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What's the best thing to do with your phone/ your phone number when travelling?

 

in Poland by @davda1546 | 19h 19 hours ago | 0 comments

Hey, hope everyone is well!

We're leaving in a month to go travelling. Our first destination is still to be confirmed, but will likely be Poland or Slovakia. We will be moving around every month or two to different destinations.

The question we have is: what do people do with phones/ phone numbers when hopping from country to country? Ideally we'd just like one number for the whole trip (even better, the number we already have) wherever we go, rather than getting new SIMs with different numbers.

This is just so it's easier to keep in contact with family/ clients/ etc.

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What are some nice French beach towns?

 

in France by @amin | 2d 1 day ago | 4 comments

I'm thinking to head over to France during the winter and I'm looking for recommendations on a good French town that has beach and is warm enough during the winter.

What are your favourites? Any recommendation is appreciated.

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Where do I get good legal advice/support to have a long-term stay?

 

in Lisbon, Portugal by @mzorrilla | 3d 3 days ago | 0 comments

Hello, everyone!

My idea is to stay as low as 6 months and as long as a year (maybe, who knows) over Lisbon after doing some analysis from many cities in Europe.

I'm an Argentinian and Chilean (both nationalities) so... no Euro-pass for me (getting my Italian nationality could take 2 years easily). I'm also a remote worker and I have a really good income (I work for a Silicon Valley company) so I can show more than enough resources to stay in the country.

Everything I see online doesn't inspire me much confidence (most sites looks a bit scammy) and this is not a "vacation stay"... I want to be clear my head far away from Argentina right now. If someone has a good website, recommendations, etc I will super appreciate.

Thanks in advance!

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What is the best online insurance for digital nomads ?


by @berberos | 6d 5 days ago | 4 comments

Hi guys ! hope you are doing well.

I would love to get your feedback regarding the best insurance for digital nomads. i'm traveling around Asia since 1 year and for next 4 or 5 years. Would love to buy an insurance to cover especially :

- health

- laptop, phone ...

- Flights

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Driving from Italy to Croatia..how to handle passport?


in Croatia by @ld | 13d 12 days ago | 3 comments

Hello, we are US citizens that have been able to stay in Italy past our standard visa stay due to covid. Now we must leave. We want to drive to Croatia as our โ€œout of EUโ€ stay. But Iโ€™m now wondering what considerations I need to take care of for my visa. I wonโ€™t go through an airport and get my passport stamped. But I assume I need to get my passport stamped as a way to prove Iโ€™m out of the EU.

Anyone else travel in and out of Schengen zone via car? Or know what I should do to properly handle the visa situation? I get unclear answers online. Hmm.

Appreciate your help!

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Introduce yourself โ€” who are you, where are you and what do you do?

 

by @coffeeshopceo | 17d 16 days ago | 672 comments

tl;dr: introduce yourself in this thread.

We must all get sick of the same backpacker travel questions when we meet new friends, I know I do.

You know the ones - where are you from, whereโ€™ve you been, where are you going, what do you do, how long have you been doing it - etc.

The novelty of answering these questions wears off after maybe a week, but theyโ€™re nonetheless insightful and no matter how much we hate them, we find ourselves asking others.

So letโ€™s bring the dreaded backpacker questionnaire to NomadForum and introduce ourselves shall we?

**

  • whatโ€™s your name?
  • where are you from?
  • how long have you been away from home?
  • what do you do?
  • where are you currently?
  • where are you going?
  • what has been memorable for you so far?
  • will you go home anytime soon?
  • what have you learnt during your time as a nomad?
  • [insert your own question here]

**

No need to answer them all if you donโ€™t want to :smile:
But the more you shareโ€ฆ The merrier!

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Best/quickest way from Italy to Croatia?


in Croatia by @ld | 19d 18 days ago | 3 comments

Hello,

We are in Umbria until August 31. We've been here since March, but crisis-level visa extensions are over. After that we have to leave the EU. We would like to stay out of the USA (our home) due to it's covid crisis, at the same time we want to be responsible about travel. Ideally we would not travel at all, rather stay hidden in the countryside of Umbria forever until covid is more under control globally, but here we are!

So we must leave the Schengen zone. We should avoid USA. We should avoid long air travel.

We were thinking Croatia.

Do you recommend a route to Croatia? We are open to long train rides. Ideally not long ferry rides. Is there a ferry route under 4 hours? I read about it...I don't see it. If not, the other option is to make our way north and up over to Croatia via train.

I'd appreciate your thoughts and insights!

Thanks.

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Where should I set up my company as a remote worker?


by @beloruchka | 23d 22 days ago | 6 comments

Iโ€™m looking for any recommendations for services or people others have used to get answers on the best place to set up their businesses based on their personal circumstances.

Leaning towards Singapore after a ton of research, but would really like some concrete advice before jumping in.

Appreciate it!

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Anybody bring their car to Mexico instead of flying?


in Mexico by @digitaldiva | 23d 23 days ago | 1 comment

Iโ€™m curious whether anyone drove to Mexico instead of flying and used their car down there. Iโ€™ve heard bad stories of people driving down there but not sure I believe them. How safe is it to drive through rural areas, and to park in cities? It would be cool to have the car to explore while there.

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Did you learn any Thai before staying in Chiang Mai?


in Chiang Mai, Thailand by @digitaldiva | 23d 23 days ago | 0 comments

Iโ€™m curious to know how many people learned some Thai before going there. Learning languages is a hobby of mine but Iโ€™m very put off by how complex the writing system is, and if I decide not to learn it Iโ€™ll probably cross Chiang Mai off my bucket list. I prefer to be at least conversational in a language before I do an extended stay in a country. Iโ€™m curious how people who learned no Thai did getting by. And Iโ€™m curious, from people who did learn some, if itโ€™s any easier than it seems? Thanks!

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How to get SMS verifications for banks while traveling?

 

by @jackgopack | 28d 27 days ago | 39 comments

Any suggestions for seamlessly receiving SMS Verifications from US financial institutions and other sites while traveling internationally continuously? Wonโ€™t keep my US Verizon account due to cost and currently plan to use local sims at each destination (T-Mobile and Project Fi are NOT an option as they terminate for continuous roaming). In summation, I wonโ€™t have a US mobile account.

Unless Iโ€™m missing something, which is very possible, this appears to be the single most complex issue Iโ€™ve encountered in my preparations, and one that no one addresses. I would greatly appreciate any possible solution that works 100% of the time. Canโ€™t afford surprises in this regard. Many Thanks! Jack.

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How to get a UK residence address without renting/buying?


by @pavel_maximov | 2mo 1 month ago | 17 comments

Background:
Iโ€™m an EU national IT specialist, recently decided to become a digital nomad. I just left my permanent job in Germany and opened a UK based LTD (for a better taxation) to start a new career as remote working IT contractor. I also want to become a UK resident and pay personal income tax there BUT I donโ€™t want to rent/buy a place because I have no interest in physically living in the UK, as a nomad I will be traveling abroad 100% of the time.

So I just need a UK address where Iโ€™m registered as a resident and could receive mail, but I would never actually be there. I could rent a place and keep it empty but that would be a total waste of money.

Question:
How do I find somebody who could give me an official residence at his/her address and keep my name on the door? Iโ€™m ok with paying a reasonable monthly fee for this โ€œserviceโ€ (but not as high as a rent), and give assurance in whatever form that I will never pretend to physically live there. I have no close friends in the UK to ask for this favor, and trying to propose this to a random landlord would be just weird since they are not familiar with the needs of a digital nomad.

Maybe you guys can suggest me somebody who understand the situation and want to make some extra cash every month to pay the bills? Iโ€™m ready to meet in person, provide full proof of identity or any other document, and to make a written agreement that gives the landlord the freedom to cancel this โ€œsituationโ€ at any time.

Note:
This is NOT for tax evasion, itโ€™s the opposite! I WANT to pay full tax as UK resident, I just donโ€™t want to waste money on a rent which I will literally never use.

I would be very grateful for any advice!

Pavel

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How do you deal with โ€œproof of addressโ€ for banking and investing and other random stuff?


by @eljaques | 5mo 5 months ago | 6 comments

How do you guys deal with the dreaded โ€œproof of addressโ€ for banking and investing and other random stuff?

I donโ€™ have the option to have a family member do this for me, sadly (not wanting to use that country as residence for tax implications).

This has to be a pretty regular problem for most who arenโ€™t doing the old timey โ€œlive in one place and pay bills there foreverโ€ thing. Suggestions? Services? Hacks? Workarounds?

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What are wise ways to handle health insurance, as a USA person


by @azurio | 12mo 11 months ago | 1 comment

Hi! Iโ€™m still struggling to figure out how to handle health insurance.

What handy guides have you found to help figure out USA health care?

Iโ€™m struggling with:

  • When itโ€™s okay/wise to go without coverage while abroad, these days.
  • What other type of insurance I want while traveling, and whether it needs to be a supplement to USA insurance or if it can be a replacement.
  • Etc.

Above all, I think I want out. I wonder about success stories in moving to some other system/location, and the method youโ€™d recommend: additional citizenship, a special visa, etc.

I have searched this topic and struggled with it, so summaries and clarity are super helpful. I appreciate any and all help with this. Thanks so much!

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How to do without permanent address nor local bank?


by @tradeaway | 2yr 2 years ago | 2 comments

I am soon to find out one way or another as I will leave my residency to become a nomad myself. I have not found a good solution for Bali or Asian countries on the internet.

I read our existing Nomadlist posts under Money tag. Money handling and charges around accessing it seem to be a big issue for nomads, soon my issue. As a post I read said, accessing money for a Nomad can be harder than making money. I am more worried about accessing money than having some.

Iโ€™ll use Transferwise Borderless account to keep my day to day living money. I am opening a Pte Ltd corporate, that only goes for business-related expenses.
My Canadian credit card will charge me an arm and a leg in fees and currency conversion for me to get Indonesian Rupiah in Bali from Canadian dollar account. Then at some point, my credit card will complain I am not in Canad anymore.
Not knowing better, Iโ€™ll try that. If that works good and still live me short on how to go for smaller and random daily expenses.

Thanks for your help!
Enjoy your Nomad living!!

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What problems do you face while working remotely?๐Ÿค”


by @stvbutlr | 3yr 2 years ago | 0 comments

Hi all,

For those of you who work remotely, I think the community would love to hear about your problems โ€ฆ I know I would.

When working remotely what problems do you face with your day to day work and/or employer(s)? โ€ฆ Please list anything and everything that comes to mind!

  • Ideally, people who have overcome the problem(s) will weigh in with recommendations. :ok_hand:
  • With this information, people who wish to join the nomadic lifestyle can better prepare for the transition from โ€˜office jobโ€™ to โ€˜remote workโ€™. :airplane:๏ธ

Some topics that might trigger some inspiration for reply. :speech_balloon:

  • trust from employer
  • communication
  • project management
  • payment
  • timezones
  • culture/teamwork/colleagues
  • stress/anxiety

Cheers,

Steve

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How do you manage receiving mail without a permanent address in the Philippines?


in Philippines by @kaizenpreneur | 3yr 2 years ago | 3 comments

Hello all,

I have a mail management service in the UK which all my mail gets sent to. This works fine 90% of the time and most can be dealt with digitally.

The other 10%, I need the mail sent on to me, which they do offer as a service. However, where I struggle is giving them an address to send it to in the Philippines, namely Manila.

Iโ€™ve used DHL for really important stuff, like bank cards, but it would be nice to have an address where I can forward certain mail. Anyone been able to set something up like this in the Philippines? Would a virtual office allow me to receive mail?

Thanks in advance

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Should nomads travel into countries with war crime problems?


by @srg_b | 3yr 3 years ago | 6 comments

Today I read an article about hundreds of thousands of Kurds who were misplaced and lost their homes during military siege of Kurdish cities Sur and Diyarbakir by the Turkish Army. Source below:

I was aware for some time now that the Turkish military is using excessive force against its Kurdish minority, especially after the military coup crackdown this summer. This is one of such articles

Now, looking from a broader perspective, do you think we should travel into countries which are going to use the tax money (which we will contribute to) to finance military campaigns with heavy human rights violations and consequences against civilian lives? Isnโ€™t that like crowdfunding war crime campaigns? How do other people observe such cases? This articleโ€™s focal point is Turkey, but I am sure there are many other countries around the world with similar problems.

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How do you handle the constant switching of dentists?


by @leerosen | 4yr 3 years ago | 6 comments

How do you handle the constant switching of dentists?

Any thoughts on how to deal with continuity when switching dentists all the time? Dentist #1 says โ€œweโ€™ll keep an eye on #12 and #14โ€, but then you go to Dentist #2 and they donโ€™t have the records (nor do I understand all the gibberish being spoken by the dentist). Do you keep your records and take them with you?

Also, what about x-rays. Some dentists want to take some for each โ€œnew patientโ€. Seems like having x-rays all the time canโ€™t be good. Do you ask for copies or what? Iโ€™ve been dentist hopping for about 18 months now and am beginning to wonder how to keep my 54-year-old teeth in the best shape.

Any advice from those doing this long term?

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How do I handle the PayPal limit lift?


by @matthieudrula | 4yr 4 years ago | 15 comments

Hi,
I have been using Paypal since Iโ€™m nomading and contracting. However now it asks to confirm my identity.
I created my account when I was in the UK, now slow traveling, my account is bound to the UK and Iโ€™m feel like Iโ€™m *****ed since they ask for information about my previous UK address.
They are talking about limit lifts. Anyone using paypal has a nomad with no home address?

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