Published and draft legislation - Puerto Rico

Social inclusion through enhanced access to finance

Law on Financial Access For All, 20th February 2015

On 20th February 2015, the Senate in Puerto Rico enacted the Ley de Acceso Financiero para Todos, so that all residents in the State of Puerto Rico, regardless of whether they are immigrants or not, can have access to checking and savings accounts in banks, institutions and credit cooperatives.

This law aims to authorise and encourage Puerto-Rican financial institutions and cooperatives to provide financial services to immigrants, thereby contributing to their integration into society and their inclusion in its financial system.

Its sole requirement is that financial institutions verify the customer’s real identity, establishing the need to confirm a set of identification requirements: forename and surname, date of birth, current address and ID number.

It stipulates that all the banks, institutions and savings cooperatives may only refuse to open a deposit account in the following circumstances:

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  • When there is evidence that the account may be used for illicit purposes.
  • When the customer has a record of illegal or fraudulent activity with financial service providers.
  • When the entity has proof that the customer has given false identity information.
  • When offering the corresponding service would negatively impact their business policies and procedures, such as the institution’s Know Your Customer Programme.

To protect the beneficiaries, and to ensure that access to financial services will never be harmful to them, the law prohibits the use of the financial institution’s data for the purpose of processing deportation or  other actions relating to immigration.

The economic and social situation of this group of people is enormously affected by their having left their country of origin, and the impossibility of accessing the formal financial market is one of the main causes of exclusion. This new measure represents an important step forward in including resident immigrants in the economic and social life of their communities in Puerto Rico.