Are you looking for a suitable international money transfer option from India? If you want to send money from India to other countries, you need to be aware that there are a high amount of government restrictions and foreign exchange regulations to keep in mind. Any international money transfers you make must meet these regulations.
There are foreign exchange businesses that enable you to send money overseas in minutes. Whether you need to send money back home as a gift to a family member or to take care of medical expenses, specialist international money transfer companies can give you a better deal than your bank.
Compare some of the best international money transfer services
Procedures and regulations governing international money transfers from India
Sending money for an Indian national residing in India, a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), foreign businesses and expatriates who live in India is governed by regulations laid down by the Indian Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). All outward remittances usually have to be approved under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), which is an act which regulates transactions that involve foreign exchange.
Liberalized Remittance Scheme
RBI’s Liberalized Remittance Scheme (also known as LRS) allows resident individuals (Indian nationals and expatriates) to remit foreign exchange of a maximum of US$250,000 per Indian financial year. Resident individuals can usually send foreign exchange overseas for one of the following purposes:
- Overseas education expenses
- Medical treatment
- Care for a close relative
- Emigration fees
- Visa fees
- International visits for private purposes
The individual needs to hold an appropriate account at an RBI authorised dealer, generally a bank having international branches. He or she needs to designate a specific branch of the particular bank, using which he or she will be making all foreign exchange remittances under the LRS. The individual can also make overseas remittances through an entity which is not a bank (but has appropriate permission from the RBI to deal in foreign exchange), but the remittance has to be funded from a bank.
Individuals can open a foreign currency bank account outside India to carry out their transactions. However, one thing to keep in mind is that remitting funds under LRS can be carried out by individuals only and not partnership or corporate firms.
Any foreign national residing and working in India who wants to remit funds internationally under the LRS needs to mention their unique PAN number. A PAN number (generally issued to Indian Nationals) is issued by the Indian Income Tax department to non-Indian (i.e. foreign) nationals holding a valid Indian visa.
One requirement of the LRS is that individuals looking to remit foreign exchange outside India should have their own bank account at an authorised dealer for a minimum period of one year. Most large international banks are authorised dealers. Such banks are authorised by the RBI to deal in foreign exchange under Section 10(1) of the FEMA act.
Other Remittance Schemes
In case resident individuals do not qualify for LRS, they can avail other schemes which allow foreign exchange remittances up to certain limits. Foreign exchange remittances till a maximum of US$25,000 (current account transactions) are known as “small value remittances. Individuals can make such remittances even if they do not have an account at authorised dealers. But, such remittances require an appropriate request letter issued by an authorised dealer bank.
All resident individuals (including foreigners who have a PAN number) who reside in India may use this method of remitting money internationally. However, like LRS, this particular facility is not available to partnership and corporate firms.
Remittances by an NRI or a PIO
If you are an NRI or a PIO, before making any overseas remittances from India, you should be aware of the types of bank accounts you can hold in India. You should also know the foreign exchange facilities permitted to you.
When it comes to permitted bank accounts, an NRI or a PIO can legally hold the following types of accounts with an authorised dealer bank in India:
- NRO account. Non resident (ordinary) rupee account. The account is denominated in INR. While any accrued interest is freely repatriable, the principal amount is repatriable only in certain cases.
- NRE account. Non resident (external) rupee account. The account is denominated in INR and the principal amount, as well as any accrued interest, is freely repatriable.
- FCNR (B) account. Foreign currency non resident (bank) account. The account is denominated in GBP/EUR/JPY/USD and the principal amount, as well as any accrued interest, is freely repatriable.
When it comes to remittances, an NRI or a PIO can make overseas remittances without any restrictions from either an NRE account or an FCNR account. Remittances from NRO accounts are permitted in the following cases:
- Accrued interest. Freely repatriable.
- Principal amount. Only current income like dividend, pension, rent etc. and any remittances under the head “Repatriation of NRO Funds” can be repatriated outside India. The maximum amount an NRI or a PIO can repatriate is US$1,00,000 in an Indian financial year (April to March).
How do international money transfers work?
An international money transfer is the process of sending money overseas. These services specialise in foreign exchange services.
Generally, you open an account with the service, deposit the money you want to send via your local bank account so you’re not charged any fees. Then, you indicate what country you want to send the funds to by providing the recipient’s IBAN/SWIFT number and account number. The service then processes the transaction for you, which is usually at a better exchange rate and with lower fees due to economies of scale.
Most international bank-to-bank transfers are expensive and slow. You can get a better deal on international money transfers using a dedicated foreign exchange company. Some Indian providers offering this service are ExTravelMoney, UAEExchangeIndia, Thomas Cook India, FxKart, InstaReM, BookMyForex or BuyForexOnline. There are two types of international money transfer providers: online-only companies and those with storefronts. These services offer more ways to pay and collect cash.
What are the international money transfer options from India?
If you are a foreign national, traveller, expat or a working holiday-maker looking to transfer money from India to other countries then to transfer money outside India you’ll need to fulfil the following conditions:
- Your primary aim is to work.
- You have bank accounts in both countries.
- You’re sending reasonably large sums of money – greater than $1,000.
There are two main options to help you out:
- Option A. Use a dedicated money transfer company with zero or low fees and a competitive exchange rate (typically 1-2% less than mid-market rate).
- Option B. Use your bank, pay high fees and get unfavourable exchange rates (typically 2-4% less than mid-market rate).
How do these options work?
Option A: Money transfer companies
- Register online with the transfer service of your choice.
- Input transaction details, including the amount you want to transfer.
- Get approved by the transfer company. You may need to scan or email a copy of your ID for the first transaction.
- Transfer funds through your bank using the account details from your transfer company.
- Get your money. Your transfer service will deposit your funds in your destination account.
Option B: Transfer money using your bank
- You will need to be able to send money online with your current bank.
- You’ll usually need to know the address of the receiving bank, the account details of the receiving account, the account name and often the receiving bank’s SWIFT code (an international bank identification system).
- It’s a good idea to check with your bank about exchange rates.
- You can use this method to send an international money order online to your home bank account or to a third party.
Want to learn more about international money transfers?
- How to compare international money transfer services.
- How do I choose the best* international money transfer option from India?
- What are the differences between international money transfer companies and banks?
The different types of international money transfer providers
Brick-and-mortar companies, such as Western Union and MoneyGram, let you make a cash or EFTPOS payment in person, usually without prior registration. The recipient can collect cash moments after you’ve made a payment by showing identification.
These companies have hundreds of thousands of agents around the world and have arrangements with retailers like 7/11. These international money transfer companies also offer online payments and deposits to bank accounts.
However, as on date, neither of these offer overseas remittance services from India.
Online-only lenders may let you transfer money overseas usually through a bank transfer. These providers deposit the money in the recipient’s foreign bank account.
In most cases, you must register for an account to make an online overseas payment, and usually, registration is free of charge.
Fees and charges
International money transfer providers make money by charging a transfer fee and applying a margin to the foreign exchange rate. Some providers might offer first transfer free deals for new customers and promo codes so you can get discounts on your second and third transfers. Even with these fees, you’ll find that using a company that specialises in international money transfers is far cheaper than bank-to-bank overseas money transfers.
Why do people prefer money transfers instead of using their bank?
- It’s fast. International money transfers done through a forex trader can be available in the recipient’s account in one business day or less.
- It’s cheap. Using a specialist forex service can get you a rate close to the interbank rate and there are services which don’t charge a commission for international money transfers.
- It’s also safe and secure. Transfers using banks and foreign exchange traders offer secure online platforms to deposit funds.
How do I compare international money transfer services?
Here are the key points of comparison between different international money transfer services:
How can the recipient collect the funds? Not everyone has a bank account. WorldRemit, Western Union and MoneyGram are three international transfer companies which make funds available as cash, however, as on date, neither of these offer international money transfer services from India.
- Check with your money transfer provider regarding the collection options they offer to your recipient.
How can you pay? International money transfer companies will usually let you make a transfer from your bank account and in some cases may let you pay by demand draft or a cheque.
- Transfer time depends on how you pay for your international money transfer.
How much will it cost to make an international payment? Dedicated foreign exchange providers cost far less than banks, which charge a flat fee for transfers initiated online or at a branch.
- Some online international payment companies may offer promo codes and deals for new customers.
What rate will you get on your transfer? Peer-to-peer international money transfers offer some of the best foreign exchange rates. Banks are on the other end of the scale. You can compare exchange rates when you get a quote for an international money transfer.
- Some online transfer companies will match competitor’s quotes.
Minimum and maximum transfer amount
What is the minimum and maximum amount you can send? Transfer fees will determine whether your international money transfer is cost-effective; however, some companies and institutions let you send as little as US$1.
- Some providers will waive transaction fees when you make large transfers.
Can you speak to an operator if things don’t go according to plan? The ability to access 24-hour customer service is important if you need to cancel or amend an international payment.
- International money transfers should also include order tracking.
What are the differences between international money transfer companies and banks?
The cost is the main difference between bank telegraphic transfers and transfers using foreign exchange providers.
International bank-to-bank transfers are an expensive way to send money overseas. Banks apply a higher margin to their foreign exchange rates and charge more for the service than forex providers. The receiving bank and other go-between institutions may also charge a fee to deliver funds when you send money overseas directly from your bank account.
There are exceptions.
Bank accounts to use for overseas online transfers
International banks, such as Citibank, can offer a better deal on international money transfers than homegrown financial institutions. But these banks have limited services and capabilities.
For example, Citibank offers their NRI customers free global transfers between Citibank accounts in specific countries. However, transfers can take a number of business days and the recipient must be a Citibank customer.
Using your bank
Bank-to-bank telegraphic transfers are a little more straightforward. Just log into your online banking facility and add a new international payee in the “money transfer” menu. You’ll be asked to enter the SWIFT code as well as the payee’s personal and bank details.
Besides rates and fees, banks and foreign exchange services differ in the transfer time and collection options.
- Transfer time. Bank-to-bank transfers can take longer than transfers using an online foreign exchange provider.
- Collection options. Online international money transfers using a forex provider can be made available as cash in some cases.
How do I send money overseas?
Once you’ve compared international money transfer providers, you can transfer money using the following steps:
Using a foreign exchange provider
- Get a preliminary quote. Use foreign currency calculators to get an international money transfer quote. These calculators will only provide you with an indicative rate. The actual rate at the time you accept the transfer may be different depending on how often the provider updates their rates.
- Create an account. If you like the quote from the foreign exchange provider, you can register your details to create an account. In most cases, you must verify your identity to complete the registration by providing an accepted form of identification, such as your passport or driver’s licence. You may also be asked to verify your address by providing a utility bill or government notice.
- Get a detailed quote. Once you’ve created your account, you can log in to the provider’s website and request a second quote to get the actual exchange rate for your transfer.
- Accept the transfer. If you’re happy with the quote, you can make a payment to the foreign exchange provider to confirm the transaction. Payment processing time depends on how you make a payment, for example, credit card and debit card payments are processed sooner than transfers from your bank account.
- Track the transfer. Most money transfer companies let you track your foreign exchange order through their online customer portal.
How to transfer money overseas
The general steps are as follows:
- Log in to your money transfer account or profile.
- Choose the recipient country, transfer amount and transfer method.
- Pay by National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT)/Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) transfer from your Indian bank account in most cases.
- You’ll receive a confirmation email or a notification on your mobile phone with your tracking number.
- The money will be deposited into your recipient’s local bank account within a couple of business days.
How do I get a competitive exchange rate?
Getting a competitive exchange rate isn’t difficult, but finding a good rate is only half the battle. The fees for your transfer must also be competitive, otherwise, you might still lose out.
Getting the best* rate when transferring money
Here are some tips to ensure you get the best deal on fees and exchange rates when transferring money:
- Find out what current rates are. You should have a reliable baseline to compare the rates offered by money transfer companies and banks. Two well-known currency conversion resources include XE and Oanda. These are free tools you can use to see live conversion rates and both feature currency conversion calculators.
- Compare by asking for a quote. Getting the best exchange rate can be difficult because money transfer services can charge high fees but offer competitive rates. This means sometimes it’s a good idea to ask for a quote, and then compare this to quotes from other providers.
- Ensure you’re comparing the most accurate rate. This links in with the above point. Until you register with a money transfer service, you’re more than likely seeing their indicative exchange rates and not the most accurate rates available. Ensure that if you choose not to compare quotes as the above point suggests, that you compare the exchange rate you’ll actually receive, which usually will require you to register with a service or make a call.
Helpful advice when sending money overseas
- Don’t transfer money internationally using your bank account. International money transfers from your bank account can be an expensive way to send money overseas. Use comparison services and websites to shop around and find the best deal.
- You should be aware of any limitations and sanctions placed on the recipient country. Bank account deposits are usually the only outward remittance options from India. Furthermore, due to government regulations, you won’t be able to send money to various countries.
Definition: Best* money transfer service
There is no single best money transfer service, and the best service for you may not be the best for someone else. This is because there are many factors to consider when sending an international money transfer in addition to the exchange rate, including the transfer fees, the payment method, the speed of delivery and the level of customer service. One person may need to transfer money within 24 hours, while others may have no time frame.
You should consider a range of products when deciding which provider is best suited to your personal money transfer needs.
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