How to transfer money overseas from a bank account

There are three main ways, each with their own set of steps.

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With growing competition, the best ways to send money internationally from your bank account may no longer be through your bank. Other traditional options like sending cash, a cheque or even a money order are also outdated — and risky. Discover how to transfer money internationally for less, sometimes in as little as a few days.

How can I transfer money internationally between banks?

There are 3 main ways to transfer money internationally between banks, and some of them offer additional options like delivery for cash pickup:

  1. International wire transfers online. An online international wire transfer will be made through your bank to your recipient’s bank.
  2. Online money transfer services. Services dedicated to sending money domestically and internationally can often beat the rates and fees offered by your bank.
  3. In-person international wire transfers. Physically going to the bank to send your money internationally may be the least convenient option, but it’s an option nonetheless.

Making an international wire transfer online from your bank

Depending on the bank you use, you may be able to avoid visiting a branch by sending your international wire transfer online. If your bank offers online transfers, follow these steps to send your international bank transfer:

  1. Go to your bank’s wire transfer section. This will usually be found by visiting your bank’s main website, logging into your account and looking at the top of the page for Wire transfers, Send money, Transfer money or similar.
  2. Verify your sending limits. Banks often place limits on outgoing wire transfers, so confirm that your bank’s limit is high enough for your transfer. When you need to send more than the limit, consider using a money transfer service instead.
  3. Enter your recipient’s bank information. International bank transfers usually require:
    • Name and address of your recipient’s bank
    • Recipient’s name, address and account type
    • Recipient’s account number or international bank account number (IBAN)
    • Recipient’s SWIFT or BIC code, which can be found by asking the recipient’s bank
  4. Enter sending amount and desired currency. Your bank will likely charge a currency exchange fee on top of a sending fee.
  5. Pay for the transfer and the fees. Most banks charge an outgoing wire transfer fee, and your recipient’s bank will likely charge an incoming wire fee as well.
  6. Wait for your transfer to arrive. International wire transfers can take anywhere from a few business days to over a week, depending on how many banks the money has to move through to get to its destination. Check with your bank to find out the status of your transfer.

SWIFT vs. IBAN explained

DescriptionWhere you can find itExample
SWIFTA SWIFT number is an alphanumeric number containing information that identifies a bank and branch. It can be eight or 11 characters long, depending on which bank office it refers to.Bank statement, online banking system, inquire at the bankNFBKUS33
IBANAn IBAN number is an alphanumeric number containing information that identifies a bank, country and account number. With lengths fixed by country, IBAN codes can be up to 34 characters.Bank statement, online banking systemGB 29 NWBK 601613 31926819

What to know about SWIFT and IBAN codes

Using an online money transfer service

There’s a lot of competition between online money transfer services — which should benefit you while looking for the best deal. The majority of providers will allow you to transfer money from one bank to another, and many of them have additional sending options.

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  • Send money to 170+ countries
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    More online money transfer services to help you send overseas from your bank account

    Other notable mentions to help you move your money internationally include:

    Compare your bank account money transfer options below

    Enter the amount you’re sending and destination, then click Calculate to see what your international transfer could cost.

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    CAD 0 Within an hour CAD 3.99 0.744 USD
    3,719
    Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
    An online money transfer service with cash pick-up, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available.
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    CAD 1 Same day CAD 0.00 0.744 USD
    3,718
    Send money in more than 60 currencies. Fee-free international money transfers with a global brand. Go to site Show details
    USD 150 1 day CAD 15.00 0.74 USD
    3,688
    Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
    A higher exchange rate applies to non-finder customers. Send money in 45 currencies.
    Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

    Sending an international wire transfer in person at your bank

    If you like to keep your business in-person, you can head to your bank to send an international wire transfer through a teller.

    Be sure to bring:

    • Name and address of your recipient’s bank
    • Recipient’s name, address and account type
    • Recipient’s account number or international bank account number (IBAN)
    • Recipient’s SWIFT or BIC code, which can be found by asking the recipient’s bank
    • Proof of ID

    The steps for sending an international wire transfer in person from your bank are similar to those for sending online:

    1. Ask the teller to start an international wire transfer
    2. Provide documents and identification
    3. Confirm details with bank teller, double check everything before sending
    4. Pay for your transfer using cash or your bank account balance
    5. Get a receipt and keep it somewhere safe

    How do I compare international money transfer providers to my bank?

    There are several factors to consider when choosing a company to handle your next international money transfer.

    • Compare exchange rates. The better the exchange rate, the better value for money you can get on a transfer. Search for the company that offers consistently competitive exchange rates, but remember there may also be higher transfer fees attached.
    • Check transaction fees. Fees often range from $0 up to $60 or more, so it pays to compare fees across providers. Some online transfer companies also waive their fees when you send large amounts, sometimes as high as $10,000.
    • A range of transfer destinations. Check to see whether the country you want to transfer your money to is supported by the transfer provider you select, as well as whether you can send money in the currency you want.
    • Processing times. Cash transfers are usually quicker than transferring with a bank account.
    • Transfer options. Some providers offer one-off transfers only, others allow you to place forward contracts and limit orders to lock in the exchange rate you want.
    • Reliable customer support. If you have a problem with a transfer or need help with your transfer, look for a service that offers customer support — either through its FAQs, phone, email or online chat.

    Bottom line

    There are many methods for transferring money overseas from your bank account. Though it can be convenient to transfer money overseas from a bank account, always compare your options to ensure you get the best value for your money.

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