Getting around sanctions to send money to Iran.
As an active member of the United Nations, Australia abides by the sanctions put forth upon the nation of Iran and will not permit many types of financial transactions between the two countries. This includes private money transfers from Australia to Iran.
Sanctions are imposed for a variety of political and economic reasons. For this reason, Iranians who have relocated to Australia must find alternative methods of getting money to their families back home.
Instead, people tend to use bitcoins for currency transfers overseas.
- How do I buy Bitcoins? There are special exchanges like the BTC Market where participants can buy and sell bitcoins. You can buy them in a variety of ways, including prepaid cards, brokers, agents and by directly transferring funds to the exchange.
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- Where do I store them? You’ll need to create a ‘wallet’ that acts similar to a bank account. You can have a software wallet stored on the hard drive of your computer, or used a web-based service. Remember to regularly back your computer up in case anything happens to your hard drive.
- What services can I use to transfer Bitcoins to Iran? You can use websites such as Coinava and Kipochi.
Abtin, an Iranian citizen, has been living and working in Australia for four months.Wanting to help with the cost of living for his mother in Iran, Abtin begins to look for ways to get around the sanction and send some of his Australian earnings back home.
What he immediately sees is that there are no options with his Australian bank, nor with money transfer providers such as Western Union. He does, however, find a service located in the UK. He could send the money to a friend there and they could then turn around and send it to Iran. This company, Sarrafi, does not publish any information about the rates and fees until the transfer has been requested.
Another interesting option he discovered was bitcoins. This is an electronic currency that is accepted for use in Iran. You can buy bitcoins in Australia which can then be sent to family in Iran and converted into Iranian Rial. Approximately 400 Australian dollars will buy one bitcoin in Australia. Once sent to Iran, that one bitcoin can be converted to 8,746,162.14 Rial. These exchange rates are reflective of those posted on the 2nd of November, 2014 and could be different now depending on current market conditions.
At that same time, a conversion of 400 AUD without having to use bitcoin would yield 9,408,178.82 IRR. By not having the ability to send money to Iran without the use of this intermediary currency, Abtin’s mother receives approximately 700,000 IRR less.
How to compare transfer companies when transferring money to Iran
Not being able to conduct a direct transfer to Iran results in additional fees and losses in exchanging currency. There are also other features that you should be considering when trying to transfer money to Iran from Australia:
- Exchange rate. This may not always be evident immediately, but you should not make a payment until the company you are using shows you what the exchange rate will be.
- Pick up methods. With bitcoins, Abtid found that his family could convert the bitcoins to cash and have the Rial deposited into their bank account.
- Reputation. You should only be looking at financial services that have an established reputation. With this type of transaction it may be easy to be taken advantage of.
Tips for picking up cash in Iran
It is not recommended by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to travel to Iran. If you do visit Iran and are robbed or lose your purse you will find it very difficult to obtain any cash to help you finish out your stay. Your credit card will not work in Iran, nor will traveller’s cheques. The best solution will be to ask for assistance from the Australian Embassy located on 23rd Street in Tehran.Back to top
How to send money to Iran
Due to the sanctions that Iran has, a secondary institution or currency will have to be used in order to send money to Iran. This could be with bitcoins or by finding a transfer company outside of Australia and sending the money to that country first.
Unfortunately getting money back home to family, friends or business contacts/suppliers in Iran can be difficult. If you are getting ready to make a move overseas it may be wise to speak with a representative of your Iranian bank to help you come up with a viable, and cost effective, solution.