Send Money To Sri Lanka

Thousands of Sri Lankans in the diaspora regularly send money to their families and friends in Sri Lanka. The estimated population of Sri Lankans living outside their country currently stands at 3 million. As the diaspora numbers increase so are the remittances back home. For instance, in 2017, the Pew Research Centre records that a total of $7,190 million was sent to Sri Lanka.

The top 5 countries that dominate the remittance corridors to Sri Lanka are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, India, and Qatar. Low-income households in Sri Lanka are the greatest beneficiaries of remittances. This impact is seen in improved poverty rates in the districts that have sent the largest number of emigrants.

As of December 2016, the number of Sri Lankans working in Qatar was 145,256. The amount they sent home is slightly over $500 million. Despite the incentives offered to encourage remittances along formal channels, funds transfer through informal channels is still rampant. Workers with expired visas, undocumented workers, and first-time emigrants are among the most affected.

This guide will help you gain an in-depth understanding of the various formal ways you can use to send money to Sri Lanka, the information required, the regulatory framework, and factors that you need to consider when sending.

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United States
Sri Lanka
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United States
Sri Lanka
Amount Received 165,214 LKR
Fees: 9 USD
Rate: 166.7144*
Payment Options Speed
Bank Transfer 3-5 Days
Debit Card 3-5 Days
Key Features
  • Internationally renowned bank
Visit Site
Amount Received 164,155.14 LKR
Fees: 10 USD
Rate: 165.8133*
Payment Options Speed
Bank Transfer 3-5 Days
Debit Card 3-5 Days
Key Features
  • Internationally renowned bank
Visit Site
Current Mid-Market Rate:   1 USD = 180.2318 LKR
* Some rates may be indicative.

How To Send Money To Sri Lanka

Sending money to Sri Lanka is simple and easy. Follow these steps to get started.

Find a Trusted Provider

Use our comparison table to find the best provider for your needs.

Sign Up and Deposit

Sign up with the provider and deposit the amount you want to transfer.

Transfer Money

As soon as you're ready, you can start sending money online.

Ways To Send And Receive Money In Sri Lanka

There are multiple ways to easily send and receive money in Sri Lanka but these will largely depend on the provider you decide to use. Below you will find everything you need to know about sending and receiving money.

    Ways to Send Money to Sri Lanka

    Whether you are sending money to your family in Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, districts in the northern and eastern regions or other areas in Sri Lanka, your target should be to find the cheapest provider that will help you save on fees and exchange rates. Safety of transfers,  sending limits and receiving limits are major concerns that you need to look at.

    There are various ways you can send money to Sri Lanka. You can use international wire transfers, online money transfer services, and in-store sending options.

    International Wire Transfers

    The banking system in Sri Lanka is well-diversified. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is the regulatory authority of the banking sector. This sector comprises state-owned commercial banks, private domestic banks, foreign banks, development banks, housing banks, and national savings banks.

    When sending to a bank in Sri Lanka, your transfer may be deposited directly or it may pass through intermediary banks before it is credited to the recipient’s account. The latter is normally costly and may take additional days for the money to get to your family.

    Thanks to recent development, thousands of Sri Lankan workers in Saudi Arabia can now send money to Sri Lanka through the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, one of the leading banks in the country. This was made possible after the bank entered into partnerships with representatives in Saudi Arabia such as National Commercial Bank, Arab National Bank, Al Bilad Bank, and Al Rajhi Bank.

    International wire transfers typically take between 3 and 5 days to be completed. However, without having a bank account in the sending country, you cannot use this service.

    The largest banks per share of remittances in Sri Lanka are Bank of Ceylon (BOC), Peoples Bank (PB), Seylan Bank (SyB), Commercial Bank (CB), Hatton National Bank (HNB) and Sampath Bank (SaB).

    In the North and East regions of the country where inter-ethnic clashes have been rampant, residents have to contend with limited access to formal banking. When sending to these border villages, bank transfers may not be the appropriate way of moving funds.

    Online Money Transfer Services

    Most of the remittances to Sri Lanka especially from Asia and the Middle East, are made through online money transfer providers. These sending options give you a better rate, low transaction fees, and faster delivery times.

    The providers differ depending on the transfer corridor. For instance, if you are sending from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka, you will find providers such as GCC Exchange, Al Fardan Exchange, Ezremit among others.

    If you are sending from the United Kingdom, providers such as Azimo, WorldRemit, Small World, Xpress Money, Ria, Fast Cash, and Lyca Remit can be your go-to options.

    Most of the providers will require you to open an account with them, pay for your transfer, and then choose a payout option which could be cash pickup or direct bank deposit. A number of money transfer providers have mobile applications on both Android and iOS platforms to enable you to send on the go.

    Other big names in this category include TransferWise, OFX, WorldFirst, TorFX, Xoom, Currencies Direct, and Transfast.

    In-Store Money Transfers

    Western Union and MoneyGram are two of the most frequently used money transfer operators in this category. In addition to the online transfer option they give you, you can also send money to your family in Sri Lanka through their agency network. 

    Depending on the country you are sending from, you will find most of these agents in grocery stores, supermarkets, mailbox centres, travel agencies, drug stores, and so forth. For instance, Western Union allows you to send money directly to your recipient’s bank account or to an agent location near them. With as little as $4 transfer fee, you can send to your loved ones conveniently and fast.

    Once you sign up for an online account, you choose the payout method, provide the recipient information and how you wish to pay for your transfer. There are several ways you can pay for your transfer. Some providers such as Xoom will allow you to pay through a direct bank debit, credit card, or debit card. Others such as OFX restrict their payment methods to bank transfers.

    Credit cards and debit cards cost a little more, but they ensure funds are available for transfer faster than the other methods.

    What is Needed to Send Money to Sri Lanka

    When sending money to Sri Lanka, you will be asked for specific information by the providers so that they can identify you and the recipient. Most of this information will be captured when signing up for the account. Regulatory bodies such as FCA and FINTRAC may require certain information to be captured by money transfer service providers. Some of the information you will need to provide include:

    • A government issued-ID document. If you are sending from the United States, you can use a passport, social security card or driving license.
    • The recipient’s name as it appears on their official documents
    • The address and phone number of the recipient
    • If you are sending directly to a bank account, the recipient bank details (bank name, branch and account number)
    • The amount of money you want to send

    Depending on the country you are sending from, you may be asked to disclose the source and purpose of the money.

    What Are the Ways of Receiving Money in Sri Lanka?

    There are various ways you can receive money in Sri Lanka. This will depend on the mode of transfer used. The following are the two main ways you can receive money in this country.

    Direct Bank Deposits – The person sending can choose a bank transfer as the payout method and have the funds directly deposited into the recipient’s account. Depending on the bank you are transferring to, the time of the day, and the day of the week, bank transfers may take 2 to 3 days to get to the recipient.

    Cash Pickups – Most money transfer providers including Western Union, WorldRemit, and MoneyGram, can send directly to a cash pickup location near the recipient. Cash pickups are normally instant.

    Most providers have agreements with local banks in Sri Lanka to facilitate transfers. For instance, WorldRemit has partnered with Hatton National Bank, Sampath Bank, National Development Bank, Cargills Bank, and Bank of Ceylon. It is also common to find money transfer service providers linking up with local providers to expand their access to their target market.

    What is Required to Receive Money in Sri Lanka?

    When the money gets to Sri Lanka, you will be notified through SMS, email or both. To collect the money, you will need the following information and documents.

    • Government-issued identification card
    • Transaction reference number – Some providers send this out to the recipients through email or SMS. If you don’t have it, ask the sender to give it to you.
    • Depending on the amount, frequency, and country of origin, some providers may ask you for additional disclosures.

    Common Reasons for Sending Money to Sri Lanka

    Looking at the transfer narrations given to the various money transfer providers, the following reasons stand out as the most common for people remitting money to Sri Lanka.

    Emergencies

    Instances of floods, earthquakes, and other disasters receive an overwhelming response in terms of financial assistance from the diaspora. Even at a family level, emergencies do arise such as sicknesses and deaths which require diaspora Sri Lankans to send in their support.

    Household Expenses

    To support family income, Sri Lankans abroad send money on a regular basis mostly on month ends. This takes care of the day-to-day living expenses.

    Education

    Some Sri Lankans send money home for tuition fees for their siblings or direct family members.

    Investments

    Investing back home remains one of the greatest pull factors for Sri Lankans in the diaspora. Most of the investments are in real estate, stock market and entrepreneurial ventures.

    Social Contributions

    During festivals such as Vesak Poya, Poson Poya Festival, and Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the size and frequency of remittances to Sri Lanka usually increase.

    Why Send Money with a Money Transfer Service?

    Money transfer services have proved to be convenient, fast, and simple for people sending to Sri Lanka and other countries. Below are some of the reasons why you should try out a money transfer service provider for your next transfer. 

    Speed of Transfer

    Delivery times are important especially when sending money in response to emergencies or pressing needs. If you pay for your transfer using a debit or credit card and opt for cash pickup as a payout option, your transfer can be completed instantly. Bank transfers may take 2 to 3 days to get to the recipient.

    Multi-Currency Support

    Irrespective of the country you are sending to, most providers will transfer your funds in your local currency. TransferWise supports the Sri Lankan rupee, so is Xoom and Western Union 130+ currencies. This support may not readily available when sending through the banking system. You may have to send in dollars or pounds and convert when the funds get to Sri Lanka.

    Ease of Set up

    Signing up for an account, paying for your transfer, and sending funds on money transfer service provider’s platforms is very quick and simple. WorldRemit takes about 10 minutes to set up and verify your details in readiness for transfers to Sri Lanka.

    Geographical Spread

    Money service providers in Sri Lanka allow for cash pick up from stores, supermarkets and petrol stations in different parts of the country. A good example is Xoom which has 2382 locations in Sri Lanka. Banks have also partnered with these providers to use their branches as transaction points. This has extended the geographical reach.

    Exchange Rates

    Money transfer providers use different business models with respect to exchange rates. Some providers such as WorlfRemit add a margin on the exchange rate while others OFX transfer at the mid-market rate. All in all, money transfer operators give you more Sri Lankan rupees for a unit of your sending currency.

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    Things to Consider When Sending Money to Sri Lanka

    There are several factors that you need to bear in mind when sending money to your family and friends in Sri Lanka.

    • Currency Regime- Sri Lanka has a floating currency regime where the value of the Sri Lankan rupee is determined by market forces. However, depending on the turn of macroeconomic events, the government may intervene to stabilise the currency. Such interventions may affect the value of the amounts you transfer.
    • Taxation-Generally, remittance up to $10,000 from Sri Lankan expatriates is not considered taxable income. However, any proceeds from investments of these remittances in Sri Lanka are taxed at the individual or corporate rate depending on the incorporation status of the business.
    • Non-Resident Foreign Currency (NRFC) Accounts -This account facility is targeted at Sri Lankans in the diaspora to help them manage currency instabilities, low-interest rates and runaway inflation. The good thing with NRFCs is that they allow you to maintain your account in multiple currencies and you can get loans against these deposits. 

    Therefore, if you want to send money to Sri Lanka, you need to understand the remittance market, the players involved, what’s needed for you to send and receive money and the factors to bear in mind when sending.

    Your Questions Answered

    What’s The Fastest Way To Send Money Online To Sri Lanka?

    Ria Money Transfer’s fast option is the fastest way to get your funds. The best part about their fast service is that it is cheaper than much of the slower competition. With Ria Money Transfer’s fast option, your money will arrive in Sri Lanka within a matter of minutes.

    The downsides to Ria Money Transfer are that the service is not the easiest option to use, and the faster option is not the cheapest. That being said, Ria Money Transfer’s fast option is a great balance between cost and speed. Again, many of the slower money transfer services cast far more than Ria Money Transfer.

    What’s The Cheapest Way To Send Money To Sri Lanka?

    The cheapest way to send money online is through TransferWise. TransferWise only charges a stated fee. In fact, TransferWise is one of the very few services that forgoes on hidden currency conversion costs altogether. When you use TransferWise, you only have to pay them for the ability to complete the transaction.

    What’s The Easiest Way To Transfer Money To Sri Lanka?

    The easiest way to send money is also TransferWise. TransferWise uses a three-step process that can be learned and repeated easily. All you need to do is tap in how much money you need to send and the destination. After that, you just complete the payment to TransferWise and the rest is up to them. It should only take a day or two for your money to reach its Sri Lankan destination.

    Current Exchange Rates For Sri Lanka

    The current exchange rate for the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) is 180.2318 LKR per American Dollar (USD), as of the time this was written. During the last 90 days, the LKR reached a high of 182.4199 LKR per USD, and a low of 177.0750 LKR per USD. The average exchange rate over the last 90 days was 180.6140 LKR per USD.

    The average volatility rate of the LKR against the USD was 0.26% over the last 90 days. This is a normal volatility rate, and the LKR has been stabilizing in recent months. Going forward, you can reasonably expect moderate fluctuations to continue, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

    What’s The Overall Best Way To Send Funds To Sri Lanka?

    TransferWise is the overall best way to send funds online to Sri Lanka. With TransferWise, you get an ideal balance between cost, ease of use, and time all in one. While TransferWise does take a day or two to work, it’s a great value given the price and simplicity of the service. For these reasons, TransferWise is the overall best way to transfer cash online.

     

    Looking to Send Money Somewhere Else?

    Sending money anywhere else in the world is as easy as sending money to Sri Lanka. If you're looking to send money to another country, here is the list of the most popular destinations.