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What is an international money order?

Sending an international money order might not be your best option for getting funds overseas.

An international money order is a paper that can be used to transfer money outside Canada. While an international money order is considered more secure than a cheque, there are other quicker and more secure ways to send money overseas.

What is an international money order?

Similar to a cheque, a money order is a paper document used as a method of payment. However, unlike a cheque, the funds for a money order are withdrawn from the payer’s account in advance. This means you can’t send someone a money order unless you have the funds to cover it, so a money order can never “bounce.”

You can’t get a money order in Canada for more than $999.99, but you can get multiple money orders if you need to send more.

An international money order operates exactly the same way as a domestic money order. The main difference is that international money orders are accepted and cashed in other countries besides Canada, whereas domestic money orders can only be cashed in Canada.

Pros

  • Can only be cashed by the person or entity named on the money order, so it’s safer than sending cash.
  • Trackable through the issuing institution
  • Usually, you don’t need a bank account to send or receive a money order
  • Paid for in advance, so it won’t ever “bounce” like a cheque

Cons

  • Usually, both the sender and receiver must pay a fee
  • Has to be physically delivered to your recipient, which significantly increases the transfer time
  • Cancellation and refunds can be expensive and take upwards of 30 days
  • May not be universally accepted as a form of payment in every country

Is using an international money order your best option?

If you want to save on fees, a money order may not be your best option for transferring funds. You can usually get cheaper international money transfers through a digital transfer service like WorldRemit, Xe or Remitly.

While big banks often charge higher fees for international money transfers, you might find very competitively-priced money transfer services offered by digital banks like Simplii Financial (owned by CIBC).

Another reason you might want to reconsider using a money order is that it has to be physically issued, mailed, received and taken to a financial institution to be cashed. If you’re looking for instant or same-day transfers, there are faster ways to send money.

One of the advantages of sending a money order is that it’s considered a fairly safe money transfer method. This is because money orders are trackable and can only be cashed by the recipient named on the document (ID will be required to verify the recipient’s identity). This means that unauthorized recipients won’t be able to get their hands on your funds even if they intercept a money order in transit.

However, most digital money transfer services also offer tracking and can transmit funds directly to bank accounts or mobile wallets, eliminating much of the risk and hassle of physically handling money orders or cheques.

How to send money internationally

Not sure you want to send an international money order? Compare money transfer services instead

Check out our guide to the best international money transfer apps in Canada to learn more.

Our table below lets you compare services you can use to send money abroad. Compare fees, exchange rates and discounts from different money transfer services, and when you have made your choice, click Go to site.
Name Product Offer Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From $0
Use code HELLO to get $20 off on first two transfers on a min transfer of $250. Valid until November 30, 2023.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Africhange
Within minutes
From $0
Send money in CAD to Africa on this blockchain and P2P powered provider.
Remitly
Finder Award
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
MoneyGram
Finder Award
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $4.99
For a limited time, get $0 fees on your first money transfer from Canada. Conditions apply.
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
Finder Award
OFX
24 hours
$0
Exclusive offer: Discounted exchange rates for your first and ongoing transactions. $0 transfer fee.
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
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How much does a money order cost in Canada?

In Canada, you could pay anywhere between $7.50 and $9.95 per money order. Rates are typically higher at major banks, which often charge between $9.00 and $10.00 for a money order.

If you purchase a money order from Canada Post, you’ll pay closer to $8.00. Note that Canada Post only sells domestic (within Canada) money orders.

In contrast, some digital money transfer services charge less than $5.00 per transfer. Some even offer $0 transfers, although you may not get a very competitive exchange rate.

How to fill out a money order in Canada

Money orders in Canada are not filled out by hand. Instead, you give the appropriate information to the bank teller or Canada Post clerk, who types it into a computer and prints our your money order. Here’s how to get a money order:

  1. Verify the acceptability of money orders in your destination. International money orders will not be accepted everywhere. Before you purchase one, make sure your recipient will be able to cash it at a local bank, post office or other location.
  2. Provide the sender’s information. Typically, you need to provide your name. Other details like your address may also be required.
  3. Provide the receiver’s information. Because your recipient may need to show ID when cashing the money order, write their name exactly as it shows on their ID to avoid any complications. Some international money orders require you to fill in the recipient’s address in addition to their name.
  4. Provide a memo if necessary. If you’re paying a bill, populate the memo with your account number and purpose of the payment. If you’re sending money to family, it may be helpful to include your name and address in the memo section.
  5. Sign the money order. International money orders without a signature may be rejected, so don’t send your money order without signing it first!

What to do after you fill out your money order in Canada

After your money order is printed, be sure to:

  • Keep your receipt.
  • Ask your mailing service about the approximate time frame for delivery.
  • Double check the money order to make sure it includes all the necessary information. Be extra cautious about spelling. Have the bank or Canada Post agent verify that the money order has been printed correctly.

How do I cash a money order in Canada?

Money orders are cashed similarly to cheques. But the places where a money order can be cashed may be limited depending on the destination country. Here’s how to cash an international money order:

  1. Find a bank or business that cashes money orders. Before arranging to have an international money order sent to you, verify that there’s a bank or post office nearby where you can cash it.
  2. Endorse the money order. Sign the back of the money order, so it can be cashed. But hold off signing until you’re right about to hand it over to the teller or clerk.
  3. Provide ID. The name on your personal ID needs to match the name on the international money order. You’ll need valid government-issued ID like a passport or driver’s license.
  4. Pay the receiving fee. Most banks charge a fee for cashing a money order. You may be able to have these charges deducted from the amount of the money order. Ask the teller or cashier if this is an option.
  5. Count your cash to make sure you’ve received the right amount. Verify that the amount you’ve been given matches the amount on the money order before walking away from the counter.

Bottom line

Sending an international money order may not be the most common method of transferring funds, but you may want to consider this option if you’re looking for a safer alternative to cheques or a cheaper alternative to bank wire transfers.

That being said, you can get very competitive exchange rates and low (or no) transfer fees from many online money transfer services. Check out our guide to international money transfers to learn more.

Frequently asked questions

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