Can I transfer my credit history from another country?
Unfortunately you cannot transfer your credit information from one country to another. Not every country offers credit or has credit reporting companies. Some countries even have credit reporting companies owned by the government. The countries that have credit reports have different computer systems, currency, contributors and laws. The U.S, Canada and the U.K have the most sophisticated credit reporting systems. Here’s why transferring credit histories across boarders isn’t possible…
The United States uses the Social Security Number as a unique identifier and other countries use other identifiers, such as name and address. Even though the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, have established credit bureaus in other countries, the systems aren’t compatible. Each county has different formats used for furnishing the credit data.
Each country has different currency except the European Union. The lenders contribute information to the credit bureaus in the currency of that country. If you still used your American Express, VISA or MasterCard in the country, your bills would not be in the same currency and would be subject to currency exchange fees. Point being, a $500 balance on an American Express card issued in the U.S is not the same as a $500 balance on a Visa card issued in the U.K.
There are not many worldwide or “global” lenders. For the most part each country has their own unique banks, merchants, retailers, courts, etc. that would be contributing information. The exception would credit cards that are accepted worldwide. These companies report information based on the billing address. Inconsistency might be problematic for cross boarder credit reporting.
Some countries have laws that will not allow credit data leave the country. Each country has unique privacy and credit laws. For example, in the United States legislation is constantly changing regarding these laws; credit reporting agencies and lenders have to make changes to comply.
You would have to establish credit in the country to which you are moving. A secured card may be a way to get started. A secured card is backed up with a savings account, which is used to set an equivalent credit limit. It would be best to consult with a banker to determine your options. If you plan to move back to your home country, you shouldn’t close your accounts. You want to still have a credit history when you return.
John Ulzheimer is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.