Digital money transfer specialists will almost always offer you more dirham for your dollars than your local bank. Explore money sending options to transfer between Canada and the United Arab Emirates to make sure you’re money is going to your recipient instead of to fees.
Top picks are our selection of some of the best money transfer products and services, based on our extensive research and market experience. Our top picks are displayed at the top of some pages to help you make decisions faster, but our top pick may not be the best pick for you.
How to send money to the United Arab Emirates online
Sign up and send money with a digital money transfer specialist in four steps:
Sign up for an account. Pick a provider and sign up for a free online account using your contact information, proof of ID and your preferred payment method.
Provide transfer details. Submit your recipient’s contact information and pick a delivery method. If you’re transferring to a bank, you’ll need your recipient’s UAE bank account details.
Confirm transfer details. Double-check your payment method, expected fees and destination.
Save your receipt. Record your receipt’s confirmation number to track the progress of your transfer to the United Arab Emirates. Some money transfer providers send a text or email when your transfer is complete.
What’s the best way to send money to the UAE?
Online money transfer providers typically offer the strongest exchange rates and lowest fees on money transfers to the UAE. Some offer transfers straight to UAE-based bank accounts, while others allow the money to be picked up in dirham in person. Banks, PayPal and other options are available but come with high fees, weak rates and longer turnaround times.
Digital money transfer services
Companies like OFX and CurrencyTransfer specialize in foreign currencies, making them some of the most cost-effective transfers. Most offer transfers directly to your recipient’s UAE bank account, often in as little as a day or two.
Services like MoneyGram allow you to transfer cash for pickup at a local branch in the UAE — often in 15 minutes. While it’s a fast way to send money, you’ll pay for the convenience in weak exchange rates and high fees. If a cash pickup is necessary, compare MoneyGram to digital services like WorldRemit or XE when possible.
Dirham probably aren’t carried at your local bank. Even if your local bank can convert your Canadian dollars into UAE dirham, beware of high fees and wide margins on the exchange rate compared to digital and other options.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Sending $1,000 to the UAE
Let’s say you need to send $1,000 to friends or family in the United Arab Emirates. Here’s what you might face as far as fees and exchange rates as of May 4, 2020.
Digital money transfer service
$50 + additional correspondent bank fees
1 CAD = 2.5691 AED
1 CAD = 2.5388 AED
1 CAD = 2.4741 AED
Slowest and most expensive
The bank option ends up being both the slowest and gets the smallest amount of money to your recipient. If you go with the digital money transfer service, your recipient ends up with AED 218 more than the bank offers. If speed is crucial, a cash transfer can typically have your transfer to the United Arab Emirates in as little as 15 minutes for just a slightly higher fee.
How to get the most out of your money transfer to the UAE
Weigh costs and fees against convenience, and learn how to compare money transfer providers that send to the United Arab Emirates to meet your needs:
Exchange rates. The CAD-AED relationship fluctuates daily, so using a service that allows you to lock-in exchange prices may help you save money down the line if exchange rates take a turn for the worse in the future.
Transfer fees. Transferring money overseas nearly always requires fees, but they might be hidden in the exchange rate. When sending large amounts, it may be cheaper to pay a flat fee to secure a stronger exchange rate.
Transfer limits. How much you can send varies by company, and different amounts can attract higher or lower fees. Shop around for the best deal on the amount of AED you’re sending.
Turnaround. Transferring money through a local bank can take a business week or longer. If you need the funds delivered quickly, seek out a digital specialist that offers instant transfers to the UAE.
Maximum limits. When exchange rates are favorable, sending more money can save you money in the future. If you plan to send large amounts of money to the United Arab Emirates, be sure to pick a provider that won’t limit you.
Transfer methods. Whether you want money sent to a UAE bank account or picked up as cash at a local agent, narrow down a company that matches your preferred delivery method.
Emergency cash transfer to the UAE
When it’s more important to get your money to the UAE quickly, look for money transfer companies that support cash pickup in minutes. You can pay with a credit or debit card for fast pickup, but fees are higher than other methods.
How to send money to the UAE without a bank account
Cash transfer services can help you if you’re unbanked or marginally banked. If you don’t have a bank account, look for a local company that supports storefronts for cash payments. These services include agent locations in other countries that allow your recipient to pick up cash without a bank account.
UAE’s exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another country’s currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it yields more money when exchanging it in a country with a weaker currency. The UAE’s exchange rate often fluctuates when compared to the Canadian dollar, so expect exchange rates today to be different than those you’ll see tomorrow. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.
Documents needed for sending to and receiving money in the United Arab Emirates
To send money to the UAE from Canada, you’ll need government-issued ID and other documents, while documents needed to pick up money in the UAE may be different by company.
Documents to send money from Canada
To send money from Canada to the UAE, you’ll need documentation and details that include:
Identification. Most services require a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID. Some services allow you to send transfers without ID, but they may require your SIN.
Payment method. Your service may accept credit or debit cards, cash, bank accounts or personal cheques.
Recipient information. Submit your recipient’s name as it appears on their ID, along with their phone number, UAE bank account and routing number if sending to their bank.
Documents to receive money in the UAE
To pick up money in person, documentation can include:
Transfer number. The person sending you money can forward the transfer’s confirmation details — called a PIN, a MTCN (Money Transfer Control Number), a reference number or a tracking number, depending on the company.
Government-issued ID. An Emirates ID that is issued by the Federal Authority For Identity and Citizenship may be required to pick up UAE dirham in person.
Amount sent. You may need to know how much was sent, usually within 10% of the total.
Sender’s information. Take along your sender’s full name, the sending country and their address, if known.
What to watch out for
While there aren’t any particular Canadian taxes just for sending money transfers, Canadian banks and companies are required to comply with banking and recording standards that help them avoid the appearance of money laundering. These standards require customers to submit valid ID, log high-amount transfers and submit precise recipient information.
Sending your hard-earned money to the UAE shouldn’t cost a fortune. Compare transfer companies that specialize in foreign for the strongest rates, lowest fees and flexible delivery. For transfers to other countries, rely on our country specific guides the next time you need to make a transfer.
Zak Killermann is a writer at Finder. He’s ghostwritten hundreds of articles on fintech, finding his love for publication at St. Cloud State University. Traveling internationally for nearly half his life — and getting burned once by an OTC money exchange — Zak's vowed not to settle for anything short of the mid-market rate again.
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