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International bank transfer: how long does it take to transfer money from bank to bank online and more

Learn more about transferring money internationally between banks.

With new players in the market, the best ways to make an international bank transfer 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 Other traditional options like sending cash, a cheque or even a money order are also outdated — and risky. Instead, many money transfer services will offer a better rate than your bank with the same level of security – all from the convenience of your home. Discover how to transfer money internationally for less, sometimes in as little as a few minutes.

What is an international bank transfer?

An international bank transfer usually refers to a bank service that helps you send money from your bank account to a recipient’s account located in another part of the world. You can use this for personal purposes — like sending money to family — or business purposes — like paying your suppliers. While bank transfers were offered only by banks in the past, you can initiate bank transfers with digital banks, wallets and money transfer services today. This means that there are now more options than ever for you to consider when making quick and affordable international bank transfers.

How can I make an international bank transfer?

There are 3 main ways you can make an international bank transfer:

  1. Online bank transfers. An online bank transfer can be made through your bank to your recipient’s bank. You can typically access your bank’s online transfer services through its mobile or internet platform. Navigate to the transfers section, create and transfer and send your desired amount. All you need is a working internet connection and your recipient’s bank details.
  2. Online money transfer services. These services are dedicated to sending money domestically and internationally, and can often beat the fees offered by your bank. Such platforms allow you to open an account online and add money to your account either by card or bank transfer. You can then make transfers easily by providing your recipient’s information.
  3. In-person bank transfers. This involves physically going to the bank to send your money internationally, which may be the least convenient option but it’s an option nonetheless. You might opt for this if you aren’t comfortable with making transactions online or would like some additional guidance when making an international transfer. Most banks in Ireland will be able to assist with bank transfer services if you visit a branch.

Make an online bank transfer

  • Pro: Convenient transfers through a bank you already trust.
  • Pro: Quick transfers since banks often communication frequently with each other.
  • Con: You’ll often lose money on fees and poor exchange rates.
Depending on the bank you use, you may be able to avoid visiting a branch by sending your international money transfer online. If your bank offers online transfers, follow these steps to send your international bank transfer:

  1. Go to your bank’s money 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 Money transfers, Send money, Transfer money or something similar.
  2. Verify your sending limits. Banks often place limits on outgoing money 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 money transfer fee, and your recipient’s bank will likely charge an incoming transfer fee as well.
  6. Wait for your transfer to arrive. International money 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.

Make an in-person bank transfer

  • Pro: In-person assistance to complete your transfer at your bank.
  • Con: Restricted to sending during banking hours while often paying higher in-person fees.

If you like to keep your business in person, you can head to your bank to send an international money transfer over the counter.

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 money transfer in person from your bank are similar to those for sending online:

  1. Start your transaction: Ask the bank clerk to start an international money transfer
  2. Prove your identity: Provide documents and identification
  3. Double-check details: Confirm details with bank clerk, double check everything before sending
  4. Pay: Pay for your transfer using cash or your bank account balance
  5. Get proof: Get a receipt and keep it somewhere safe

Some banks charge more for in-person money transfers than online money transfers, so make sure you ask over the counter whether or not you could save money by making a transfer online instead of in person.

Find an alternative money transfer service

  • Pro: Save money by using a specialist service with bank-beating rates and fees.
  • Con: Finding the best specialist for your situation can take some research.

Alternative money transfer services are online providers that specialise in money transfers. Getting started with these providers is simple – you can open an account online, deposit your money into your account and begin a transfer. Common account top-up methods include bank transfer, and credit or debit card payment. Here are some common transfer services you might have heard of:

What is needed to transfer money internationally between banks?

Regardless of which method you choose to make an international money transfer, here’s what’s typically required of you when you transfer money internationally between banks:

  • Name and address of your recipient’s bank
  • Value of the transfer amount
  • Recipient’s personal details including name, address and bank account number
  • Recipient’s SWIFT or BIC code, which can be found by asking the recipient’s bank
  • Reason for bank transfer

SWIFT transfers

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions, or SWIFT, is a type of international bank transfer. It gives each bank a unique identification tag to help you make your transfers quicker and safer. This 8 – 11 character code is known as the BIC, bank identifier code, or simply SWIFT ID. The benefit of SWIFT is that this secure international transfer method typically takes up to 5 business days. However, one downside to not is that it often comes at an additional fee.

How do I choose the best transfer option for me?

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 can range from €0 up to €30 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.

Compare your bank account money transfer options below

Sort by transfer time, fee and minimum amount and then compare your options.

1 - 11 of 11
Name Product Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Offer
Wise (TransferWise)
24 hours
From 0.41%
Within minutes
From €3
New customers get unlimited fee-free transfers for their first 3 months. T&Cs apply.
XE Money Transfers
Within minutes
From €0
Atlantic Money
Atlantic Money
Within minutes
Currencies Direct
2 days
Within minutes
From 0.3%
Within minutes
From €0
24 hours
417 days
24 hours
From €0
Within an hour
From $2.99

What is the cheapest way to make an international bank transfer?

The short answer is alternative money transfer services, like online money transfer providers. Traditional banks, like the Bank of Ireland and AIB, charge administrative fees. These banks might also add a margin to the exchange rates by 2 – 4% or more. To make matters worse, intermediary banks and your final recipient’s bank might also charge administrative fees. These small costs could add up and eat into the amount you’re transferring. Online money transfer services, on the other hand, typically have much fewer processing fees and more competitive spreads.

However, it’s often more complicated than this. While online money transfer services usually offer more competitive fees, certain banks might offer discounts to premium members or newbies, which could make international transfers more competitive. Consider these factors and compare providers across different transfer methods in order to find the cheapest international bank transfer for you.

Bottom line

There are many methods for transferring money overseas from your bank account. Choosing the best option may depend on how much you’d like to send and which country you live in. To get the best deal, be aware of rates, fees and other hidden costs. Though it can be convenient to transfer money from a bank account, always compare your options to ensure you get the best value.

Frequently asked questions

Can I transfer money to another country bank account via phone?

Yes, you can. This works just like placing an in-person transfer at the bank — just that it’s done over the phone. Collect all the information you need, including your recipient’s details and your intended transfer amount, then follow the instructions given by your bank’s customer service team.

How long does it take to transfer money to a foreign bank account?

Most international bank transfers take up to 3 business days — but this could vary depending on your transfer method, chosen provider and destination country.

Can a bank transfer work internationally?

Yes, if you use an international bank transfer either offered by your bank provider or an international money transfer service.

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