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Send Money To the UK

The British diaspora currently stands at 4.27 million. Britons are scattered in different regions all across the world. These include investors, expats, retirees, or people running charities abroad. They send money back home to pay bills, invest in alternative assets, pay for shipments, and much more. Sending money to the UK is relatively safe due to banks and providers being regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Whether or not you fall into this category, it is essential to understand the different ways you can send money back home. This guide has a collection of all the relevant information you need before you decide how to send money to the UK. We also share some of the top money transfer companies you can use today.

Updated: 26/05/2022
Read time: 22 minutes
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Understanding the economy in the United Kingdom

The UK has the 5th biggest economy globally with a highly developed social market. The countries that make up the UK include England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The total population of these countries is 67 million, and the GDP is $3.2 trillion. 

Pound Sterling GBP is the UK’s national currency, and at the time of writing, 1 GBP is equal to 1.36 USD. London has one of the top stock exchanges in the world, and it was founded in 1801. The stock exchange is a significant contributor to the national GDP because the total value of all companies trading at the end of 2021 was £3.9 trillion. Furthermore, the value of goods traded was in the region of $5 trillion. Overall, the UK’s money transfer sector is reputable because of the excellent regulatory bodies. For example, the Financial Conduct Authority oversees money transfer companies and checks for safe practices. They set the rules and monitor companies for compliance. As a result, top-tier money transfer companies like Wise have the seal of approval from regulatory bodies like the FCA.

How To Send Money To United Kingdom

How to send money to UK is simple and easy process. Follow these steps to get started.

Step 1

Find a Trusted Provider

Our comparison table for sending money to internationally looks at your specific transfer needs to and from any country in the world. Use this to find a provider that provides the best all-round service for you.
Step 2

Register with your chosen provider

Most providers will be completely free to sign up to, simply requiring your name, address and contact information. In most cases, you’ll also need to upload a picture of a valid photo ID to verify your identity.
Step 3

Transfer Money

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

Ways To Send And Receive Money In United Kingdom

There are multiple ways to find out the best ways to send money to the UK, 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.  

Sending Money To United Kingdom
Receiving Money In United Kingdom

Ways to Send Money to the United Kingdom

How to send money to the UK from any country in the world is not just simple, but full of options as well. You can use two main channels to send: inter-bank transfers or money transfer service providers. Let us look at how they stack up against each other.

Inter-Bank Transfers

The United Kingdom has some of the biggest banks in the world. Banks such as HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, and NatWest are well-capitalized, with assets running into billions of pounds.

These and other banks in the U.K. have been the backbone of international wire transfers in and out of the country. The Australia-United Kingdom remittance corridor being the busiest, transfers are mostly inter-bank and involve businesses.

Despite high transfer fees, unfavourable exchange rates, and slow transfer speeds, banks are still the people’s choice for large transfers. For instance, the British diaspora uses inter-bank transfers for sending pension earnings to the U.K.

There are lots of factors that influence inter-bank transfers. For example, when sending from the United States to the U.K., time zone differences are a significant factor. New York is on GMT-5, and London is on British Summer Time (BST), equivalent to GMT+1.

With that said, correspondent banks have come up with a way to speed up the arrival of funds by “back-valuing” the transfer. However, to compensate for the transaction speed, they revise the fees upwards.

Money Transfer Service

An increasing number of people are sending money to the United Kingdom using money transfer service providers. The speed, low transfer costs, high exchange rates, and other factors make this mode of transfer one of the best for non-business transactions.

Money transfer operators (MTOs) such as SendFX, TransferWise, MoneyGram, Western Union, WorldRemit, and World First are popular on most transfer corridors to the U.K. Setting up on these platforms is very simple. All you need is to sign up for an online account, pay for your transfer using a debit card, credit card, or bank transfer and send!

Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to send money to the UK from a physical store or begin the process online and complete it instore. In terms of support, providers like Currencyfair and SendFx have both online and phone support.

There are two main ways you can send money to the UK. Through money transfer service providers: bank transfers and cash pickups.

Bank Transfer

The money is deposited directly to the recipient bank in the United Kingdom. The advantage of this method over the traditional bank transfer is that the recipient doesn’t need to have a bank account. Instead, they can send from a credit card or debit card. Depending on where you are sending from, the transfer can take minutes.

Cash Pickup

This mode of sending money to the UK allows the recipient to collect it in cash from a nearby agent within the payout network. It is convenient for sending small amounts of money. Every provider limits how much money you can transfer to the United Kingdom. Western Union allows up to GBP 4,000.00 per transfer. Cash pickup transfers are instant.

When you pay for your transfer using a credit card, you’ll pay more because of third-party fees. The best way to send money to the UK in this option is a debit card; it charges low fees and guarantees you a faster transfer. To find out more, you can check our money transfer fees guide.

International money orders have been used in the United Kingdom for a long time. Still, their acceptability at banks, post offices, and private fund transfer organizations like Western Union is now debatable. The best advice is to avoid them if you have an alternative transfer option you could use.

What’s Needed to Send Money to the United Kingdom

Sending money to the United Kingdom, whether through banks or money transfer service providers, isn’t as complicated as sending it from the United Kingdom to other countries. The reason is that Anti Money Laundering regulations tend to be tougher when sent from the U.K. You’ll need to provide the following information in order to send money to the UK.

  • A government-issued identity document. If you are sending from the United States, Canada, or Australia, a passport, social security card, or driving license could also be accepted.
  • The amount of money you would like to send and currency
  • The recipient name as it appears on official documents
  • The recipient’s physical address and telephone number
  • If you are sending the money to a bank account, you should provide the SWIFT code, bank name, branch name, and account number of the recipient

In some cases, you may be asked to provide information on the source and purpose of the funds. This requirement is one of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations to help counter money laundering.

Common Reasons for Sending Money to the United Kingdom

As pointed out earlier, most Britons in the diaspora are either investors, pensioners, expats, or people working for international charity organizations. As such, the reasons they send money home differ from person to person. However, the following are the main reasons Britons in the diaspora send money home.

Education

Most Britons in the diaspora send their children to study in the U.K. The main driver is the high quality of education in the U.K. compared to many other regions. On average, undergraduate and graduate studies cost anything from $17,000 – $25,000 in the U.K. Living expenses range from $1,300- $1,600 per month. With such kinds of costs to foot, many Britons send money regularly to the UK.

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Living Expenses

While most Britons prefer traveling with their families, some of them leave their loved ones behind. Whether their loved ones back at home are working or not, it is common to find Britons in the diaspora sending money home to support their families.

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Medical Care

Healthcare in the United Kingdom is one of the best in terms of quality. However, it is costly both to outsiders and even British citizens. To help with medical care for their families and relatives, Britons overseas may send a few pounds through MTOs.

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Housing Expenses and Mortgages

It is not uncommon to find Britons in the diaspora owning houses or renting spaces back home for safe storage of their property. Whether containers or formal homes, such spaces attract rent that some Britons pay from abroad.

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Savings and Investments

Despite the volatility of the British pound and Brexit jitters, some Britons in the diaspora still send money home for investments in financial assets. Savings in fixed-term deposits are also typical in the U.K.

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Other reasons may include sending money for charity and social causes such as weddings and festivals.

Why Send Money with a Money Transfer Service?

Banks have been the traditional channels for sending money to the UK. However, the tide is changing fast, and money transfer service providers with mobile apps dominate most transfer corridors. Here are some of the reasons behind the shift in preference.

Faster Transfer Speeds

MTOs provide the fastest transfer speeds for people sending money to the U.K. For instance, Xoom, WorldRemit, and Western Union take less than a minute for cash pickups. Bank transfers may take a day or hours depending on the country of origin and time zone differences.

Favourable Exchange Rates

Compared to banks, money transfer providers give their customers some of the most favourable rates against the pound. Providers such as TransferWise use mid-market rates which are midway between Buy and Sell rates. You get more of the pound sterling per unit of the source currency.

Geographical Coverage

Unlike banks, MTOs have extensive payout networks. Your family and relatives in the United Kingdom can collect their money from any agent countrywide depending on the provider used. MoneyGram has 8,000+ agent locations in the U.K.

Low Transfer Fees

Thanks for the peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, transfers to the U.K. are not only fast, but also cost less. Sending an equivalent amount of money costs up to 50 per cent more on the inter-bank platform than on the money transfer providers platforms. Most of the additional fees charged by MTOs usually originate from third-parties such as credit card companies and banks.

Multi-currency Support

Irrespective of your source currency, MTOs will help you send to the United Kingdom. Western Union and MoneyGram operate in 200+ countries and territories. Xoom is present in 140+ countries and supports over 40 currencies. This flexibility is crucial in a global economy where trade and payments are liberalised.

Simple to Set Up

Signing up for an online money transfer account takes about 5 minutes on providers such as WorldRemit. In less than 30 minutes depending on the method used to pay for your transfer, the money should be off to your recipient.

Things to Consider When Sending Money to the United Kingdom

Before deciding on how to send money to the UK, there are certain factors you need to bear in mind. Aspects such as taxation, exchange rate fluctuations, and cash withdrawal limits must be carefully considered.

  • Taxation – In the U.K., remittances and gifts are not taxed as long as they fall under the 3,000 sterling pounds exemption limit per year. Wedding gifts are also exempted from taxes but have limits. For instance, you can receive up to 5,000 sterling pounds as a wedding gift from your parents tax-free. However, if the person who gifts you dies in the same year, the gifts may be treated as inheritance income. Talk to your accountant about this for further clarification.
  • Exchange Rate Fluctuations – The fact that the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union has created a lot of uncertainty.  The sterling pound has been tumbling against major currencies. When sending to the United Kingdom, you’ve got to know how the pound rate stacks up against the source currency. 
  • Cash Withdrawal Limits – In the U.K., ATM cash withdrawals have a limit of 500 pounds while over-the-counter withdrawals have a 2,500 pounds daily limit. Therefore, when you send your loved one 5,000 pounds through a bank transfer, just know that it will take them two days to withdraw the whole amount.

With more MTOs coming into the U.K. remittance corridors, sending money is getting simpler and cheaper with time. However, you need to do your homework and pick out the providers offering the best rates, low fees, and quicker delivery times.

Benefits of money transfer companies

Taking advantage of money transfer companies comes with numerous benefits. This section outlines why you may want to use them in the pursuit of getting a better deal. By the end of this section, you may realize that there are excellent alternatives to banks for sending money to the UK. 

  • Fees: you can enjoy competitive fee structures that are in the range of 0.25-1% with services like Instarem. Low fees are possible because such companies have lower overheads. Competitive services offer a good deal by passing the savings onto the customer. Look for a fee structure that matches your transfer size. For example, a large transfer size is best with a fixed fee. This means the charges do not scale with the size of the transfer amount.  
  • Transfer time: the use of balance transfer allows for quick processing times. On the other hand, bank transfers take around 2-7 business days. In emergencies, money transfer services are the better choice. 
  • FX rates: banks usually profit from currency conversions by adding a markup percentage. However, money transfer services offer some of the best rates because they match the mid-market rate. You will save a lot of money with better rates when converting currencies. Check the currency pairs for the transactions that are relevant to you. 
  • Ease of use: specialist transfer providers provide excellent user interface designs that are clutter-free and easy to use for beginners. The modern feel of the websites and mobile app means there is a low learning curve for sending money to the United Kingdom. You should get hands-on with a few different companies to see which one matches your preferences. We recommend you check out Wise, an industry-leading money transfer service that fills their UX with practical explanations and information.  
  • Mobile app: top-tier money transfer companies provide high-quality mobile apps that offer the same functionality as the desktop version. This means that you can send funds to the UK from the convenience of your mobile phone.
  • Available countries: most money transfer services allow customers to send money to the UK. However, your needs may change, so having access to most countries worldwide is a huge benefit. Using specialist transfer providers gives you access to over 150 countries, which meets the needs of most customers.  

Top 3 companies for sending money to the UK

RankingProviderReason To Use ItGet Started
🥇WiseAverage mark-up: 0 – 0.5%Visit Wise
🥈TorFXAverage mark-up: 1 – 3%Visit TorFX
🥉InstaremLow transfer fees (0 – 0.5%) and worldwide coverageVisit Instarem

We understand that it can be overwhelming to choose a good service for sending money with so many options out there. Therefore, this section presents three top-tier money transfer companies you can try today. You cannot go wrong by trying any one of these to send money to the UK. 

1. Wise

Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise is an industry-leading money transfer service that is packed with useful features for customers that want to send money to the UK. The ease of use is one of the highlights because the user interface is clean and free of clutter. Also, there is transparency of fees and transfer time at every step of the process. 

Wise charges competitive fees and matches the mid-market rate for many currency pairs. This ensures you get the best rates when converting to and from GBP. Finally, the Wise mobile app has good user ratings and provides an intuitive way of sending money on the move. 

2. TorFX

TorFX can operate as an Electronic Institution as a provisioned under Electronic Money Regulations 2011. TorFX has been trusted by more than 50,000+ private clients and more than 5,000 businesses. Also, additionally to the offices TorFX has in the UK, they have expanded their business by opening up regional offices in Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia

3. Instarem

The advantages of Instarem include low, competitive fees, FX rates that match the mid-market rate, and worldwide coverage. This means you will save money using Instarem compared with most banks. Also, you earn reward points when sending money that can be redeemed at the loyalty store. This gives customers an incentive to send money with Instarem compared with alternatives. Additionally, 24/7 support is offered by the customer service department. 

Your Questions Answered

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Looking to Send Money Somewhere Else? 

Sending money anywhere else in the world is as easy as sending money to the United Kingdom. So if you’re looking to send money to another country, here is the list of the most popular destinations.

Jonathan Merry

Jonathan is the founder and editor of MoneyTransfers.com. Jonathan is highly experienced in the currency transfer market, having previously worked in the FX trading industry, alongside being an avid traveller. Using his knowledge he identified a need for transparency and further education to help people save money on their money transfers, leading to the creation of MoneyTransfers.com