For years, I tried many ways, and I figured it out! Here is the online way to successfully and legally receive money through PayPal to your bank account when you’re from The Bahamas, the West Indies, and the Caribbean.
EDIT: Before we go the long way, it was brought to my attention by Stephan Brown at CSB Tech, and my brother Joshua at WMS, that you can open an account at CIBC FirstCaribbean, and receive PayPal funds by connecting your debit card. So, if you start there, it will save you time and money.
Step 1: Open Your PayPal Account
First, open a PayPal account. That goes without saying! If you have trouble, here’s a tutorial on how to open one:
If you opened a FirstCaribbean account and got your debit card, here’s how to connect it to PayPal.
Step 2: TransferWise
After you’re all ready to go with a PayPal account, open a TransferWise Borderless Account.
TransferWise is kind of like Western Union, but online and less expensive.
Just so you know, this step takes some time, as TransferWise will require you to identify yourself in great detail.
You will need a valid government-issued ID with your birthdate. Even if you have a driver’s license, you may also need your passport. You will also need a document (preferably a bank statement or utility bill) that proves you live at the address you input on TransferWise.
Once TransferWise has these documents for review, they will get back to you confirming your identification.
You will then need to input a valid mobile number for 2-step verification, and here’s why:
Once you open a currency account within the system, you will need it to login. If you input the wrong number, you have to email TransferWise to change it, so be careful!
Here’s a TransferWise tutorial on how to use the TransferWise Borderless Account:
EDIT: You can use this US bank account to sign up to receive royalties from music services as well.
Step 3: Linking Your Accounts
Please be very careful when handling your sensitive and personal information. It is important not to share your banking information with unreliable sources.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s continue!
You will need to input a US bank account into PayPal and verify it. That is why you need to set up the TransferWise account.
Although it is not a brick-and-mortar bank account, it is still a perfectly legal place for you to park your money until you’re ready to use it in the real world.
PayPal accepts TransferWise bank accounts, but you have to schedule a phone call with them to verify your identity. This is for security reasons.
Once you’re done with that process, you’re almost finished!
The last thing to do is link your Bahamian bank account with your TransferWise account. Go to Recipients and input your account information. Once that’s done, you can start sending money!
Step 4: Sending Money!
Here is PayPal’s tutorial for transferring money:
Remember to add your Bahamian bank account to TransferWise so you can successfully transfer your funds.
CreativeNomad TV made an in-depth tutorial on how you can transfer money using TransferWise:
Essentially, the process is:
1. Receive money via PayPal
2. Send that money to your TransferWise account
3. Receive transfers from TransferWise to your bank account
In 2019, The Bahamas is fairly progressive with online banking compared to some Caribbean countries. However, even though we have Canadian bank brands and access to online banking in The Bahamas, we do not have the same ease of use for retrieving and sending money with those accounts online. Hopefully that will change as technology and financial policy evolves.
EDIT: Answering a reader’s question: If you are signing up to PayPal or TransferWise with a personal account, use personal data. If you are signing up with a Business account, make sure to input your businesses TIN and Trade Name as it appears on your Business License.
EDIT: Answering another reader’s question: Should PayPal opt not to receive your bank account as valid, send them a message. Their support team is extremely helpful, and if you can provide them with proof that you are the owner of the bank account, they should be able to assist you. Make sure that you have an account statement handy from TransferWise as proof that you are the owner of this account. If that doesn’t work, please see the note on opening a CIBC FirstCaribbean account at the beginning of this article.
I hope this was helpful! Please share to your colleagues who need this.
Remember — never give your information to strangers and always keep security measures in place on your mobile devices.