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International Bank Transfers

A bank transfer is a popular way of transferring money internationally, providing a secure and electronic means of moving your money from your account to your recipients. There are a number of things to consider when making an international transfer, including the international bank transfer fees, exchange rate, and transfer time.

Updated: 27/09/2022
Read time: 17 minutes
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Whether you’re sending money internationally to friends or family, to make a foreign purchase, pay freelancers or contractors, or something else entirely, understanding the process is the first step in ensuring you don’t over-pay for your transfer. In the past, making an international bank transfer meant you were limited to relying on the services of your bank – which meant paying expensive fees just to be able to send your money abroad.

Nowadays, you have a wide range of options for international transfers so you can easily compare and select the best way to send money. While banks are one of those options for international wire transfers which are faster but are more expensive, you can also send money using a credit card wire transfer, as well as money transfer operators. These are another more popular methods. Transfer providers specialise specifically in sending money internationally, and so can often process a transfer for lower fees and more competitive exchange rates than international banks such as ICICI Bank in India (view ICICI exchange rates) or Bank of America in the US (view Bank of America exchange rates).

Making an international transfer with WorldRemit

As an example, WorldRemit supports 70 currencies in 130 countries worldwide, and you can initiate your transfer easily via your phone or computer.

In addition to having a transparent fee structure and competitive exchange rates, WorldRemit can also send international transfers within minutes compared to the several working days it can take for a bank to process.

Canadian Regulators

When sending money to Canada, you should know there are some organisations that are responsible to supervise the financial institutions in Canada and supporting customers. We included these organisations below:

What details do I need for an international bank transfer?

To make an international bank transfer, you’ll need your recipient’s:

  • Name (whether it’s an individual or a business name)
  • Address
  • Their account number or IBAN
  • Their sort code or BIC/SWIFT code. You can find the SWIFT code you need using our SWIFT code calculator.
  • The name and address of their bank

Make sure you double check these details, as it might be difficult to reverse your transfer if some of the details are incorrect. For example, if you’re sending money to Norway, you need to provide the correct Norwegian SWIFT code for the recipients bank located in Norway.

How to open a bank account?

International Bank Accounts
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It can be hard to keep up with the various banking terms that apply to different international money transfers, which is why we strive to provide as much detail as possible on subjects relating to global payments. In this guide we will outline what sort codes and IBANs are, looking at when they are required and how to decode them. 
IBAN vs Account Number
Money transfers come in all shapes and sizes. You might be sending money to friends and family, setting up a recurring online payment or making mass international business transfers. In the interest of clearing things up for all customers, this guide will focus on how to differentiate between an IBAN and an account number.
What is an IBAN converter?
For some customers, in spite of having used the services of a bank their whole life, the concept of an IBAN is entirely foreign: sometimes literally. This makes sense when considering that customers who have never sent money overseas will not need to use an IBAN number. This guide, therefore, is aimed at explaining why IBANs exist, what they represent, and how to convert and decode certain bank details to find out an IBAN when arranging an international money transfer.
Foreign Bank Accounts
Having a foreign bank account, or offshore account, can be very useful. For expats living or working abroad, freelancers with international clients or those supporting family overseas, international banking can prove to be an invaluable way of managing your finances wherever you are in the world. In this guide we will run through the various aspects of foreign bank accounts and how to get started with one.
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When sending funds to someone without a bank account, a multitude of practicalities must be considered. The money transfer needs to be not only safe and secure, but also efficient and easily accessible. In this guide, we will detail the various ways to successfully and securely transfer money to an unbanked person, whatever the circumstances.
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Are banks the best option for international money transfers? Here we discuss how to transfer money abroad efficiently.

How much does it cost to send money abroad using a bank transfer?

International Bank Transfer Fees
In this guide, we’ll look at the kinds of transfer fees you can expect when sending your money abroad via bank transfer, and how to avoid shelling out too much whether you’re making a one-off transfer or regular payments. What international bank transfer fees should I expect? The main two costs you can expect when […]

Using your bank vs a money transfer service to send money abroad

You have two main options when making an international bank transfer: using your bank or using the services of a money transfer provider.  Using your bank to make an international transfer may seem like a convenient way to send your money abroad, but it often ends up being one of the most expensive methods. If you’d like to know more about the bank transfers, check our guide: how does a bank transfer work?

This is because banks tend to add-on a number of fees to international transfers, including:

  • Upfront international wire transfer fees
  • Costs incurred for using the SWIFT transfer network
  • A markup on the exchange rate (on average between 4 – 5%)

*A markup on the exchange rate is charged by almost all banks. For that reason, it is important to always check the exchange rates before making your international money transfer. These banks include for example TD Canada Trust in Canada (view TD Canada Trust exchange rates), Punjab National Bank in India (view Punjab National Bank exchange rates) or Citibank (view Citibank exchange rates) among others.

Making an International Transfer with WorldRemit

Money transfer providers such as WorldRemit are popular choices for sending money abroad because of their low fees, competitive exchange rates, and quick transfer times compared with traditional banks.

WorldRemit, for example, have a transparent fee structure that is displayed clearly before you lock-in your transfer, and for new users, you’ll get your fist two transfers fee-free.

What are SWIFT transfers?

The SWIFT – Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications – network is a vast messaging network that banks use to securely send information to one another, including instructions for money transfers.

Despite the name, SWIFT bank transfers are rarely the most rapid way to send money from one destination to another. This is because not all banks have direct connections – instead, instructions are often passed through a network of banks across the world to get to their final destination. This process is often compared to travelling abroad by plane, where in many cases you’ll need to catch a series of connecting flights to get to a less well-travelled destination. 

The key thing to know is that international bank transfers made via the SWIFT network will take on average 1 – 5 working days to be processed. 

SWIFT Code Calculator
How long does a SWIFT payment take?
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How do SWIFT payments work?
In our guide to BIC/SWIFT codes we outlined all the information you will need to know when making an international money transfer. This page will provide an overview of how payments are made using the SWIFT network, detailing crucial things to consider and looking at the common misconceptions.
SWIFT/BIC Codes
What is a SWIFT code? A SWIFT code is used to identify the exact bank you are sending money to, including the country, bank location, and branch number. Made up of 8 or 11 characters, these codes are used universally to identify banks and financial institutions when sending and receiving money. SWIFT codes are a […]

What is a BNB number?

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How do I stay up to date with latest changes to regulations and fees?

You can stay up to date by reading industry news from leading professionals at MoneyTransfers.com. Check out some of the topics you might be interested in:

Alternative money transfer services for sending money internationally

A popular alternative to traditional banks for making a bank transfer is to use a money transfer service. These services are often digital-led and therefore have lower overhead costs which enables them to charge less fees than banks, more competitive exchange rates, and process international transfers in a shorter period of time.

A few reputable services you could use to make an international bank transfer include:

WorldRemit

WorldRemit boasts a 90% approval rate on international transfers being authorised within minutes and supports 70 currencies in 130 countries worldwide. The service has a user-friendly app and website and supports sending money internationally via bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile money, and to WorldRemit e-Wallets.

As an example, if we were to send £1,000 to Australia, converting to Australia Dollars, the bank transfer would take a maximum of 2 working days with a fee of £1.99, and a total of A$1827.39 received.

Challenger banks

GoHenry
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YNAB
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Tide
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Glint
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N26
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Revolut
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Monzo
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Smile Digital Bank
About Smile Digital Bank With Smile bank being a division of The Co-operative bank, all the funding came from the parent bank. The bank has continued to invest and launch new products since the early 2000s, winning numerous awards along the way. Smile digital offers intuitive online banking and mobile app platforms. So, what do […]

How to make an international bank transfer

Step 1: Compare providers to find the best deal for you

Whether you decide to make your international transfer with your bank or with an alternative provider (check out the top 10 money transfer providers), we always recommend comparing all your options to find the best deal for you.

This includes comparing factors such as fees, the exchange rate you’re offered, transfer times, plus the overall reliability of the provider you’re looking at.

Step 2: Get a clear picture of the fees you will be charged and how long your transfer will take

Once you’ve chosen how you want to send your money abroad, make sure you’ve got a clear picture of the fees you will be charged for your transfer. For most banks and transfer providers, this will include:

  • Transfer fees
  • The markup added onto the exchange rate

A good way to judge whether you are getting a good deal is to compare the total your recipient will receive once your transfer has been made.

Step 3: Input your recipient’s details and the sum you are sending

To make an international bank transfer, you’ll need to input your recipient’s name, their bank account number and sort code, and the sum you are sending. In some cases, you may also need to provide some further verification of your identity such as uploading a photo of your driving licence.

Step 4: Make your transfer

Once all your details are correct and you’ve entered the sum you are sending, you can initiate your transfer. If you’ve opted to make your transfer with your bank, you may need to wait up to 5 working days for confirmation that your recipient has received the funds, whilst using a provider may take a matter of minutes, up to a couple of working days.

Sending money using International credit cards

Card to Card Money Transfers
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FAQs

How long does an international wire transfer take?
How much can you send with an international bank transfer?
How much will an international transfer cost?
Why can’t I just use my bank to transfer money abroad?
Can I use MoneyTransfers.com to send my money abroad?

Bank transfer guides

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Guide to Electronic Funds Transfers
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Guide to SEPA Transfers
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Article Factchecked by Elliot Laybourne on 20th July 2022

Elliott is a former investment banker with a 20 year career in the city of London.

During this time he held senior roles at ABN Amro, Societe Generale, Marex Financial and Natixis bank, specialising in commodity derivatives and options market-making.

During this time, Elliott’s client list included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Schroders Asset Management, and the Pennsylvania State Public School Employees Retirement System, amongst others.

Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin Purnell is a Content Writer and Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. Having over 5 years’ experience writing across a range of industries including finance, insurance, and travel, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers and everything they encompass accessible to all.

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