The Comprehensive Guide to Sending Money to Timor-Leste

Information verified correct on January 19th, 2017

Cristo Rei of Dili Timor-LesteFind out how you can send simple, secure and affordable money transfers from the U.S. to Timor-Leste.

When you need to get money to a loved one overseas, the last thing you want to have to deal with is navigating a potentially complicated and expensive process. Sending money from the United States to Timor-Leste doesn’t have to be expensive. Compare the transfer fees and exchange rates of the many options available to you to get the best deal.

How do I send money to Timor-Leste?

There are currently few providers that offer transfers to Timor-Leste. And the ones that do don’t allow the funds to be transferred into your recipient’s bank account. The money will have to be picked up at an agent location. Both MoneyGram and Western Union provide transfers to Timor-Lest. MoneyGram allows you to do so online, but Western Union requires you to send money in person at an agent location.

Case Study: Tony Sends Money to Timor-Leste

Tony lives in Boston but has friends all around the world. One of those friends is Charlie, who lives in Dili in Timor-Leste, and who has fallen on some hard financial times. When Charlie finds Tony and asks him for urgent cash, Tony looks for the quickest way to get the funds to his friend.

Tony compares the services of two money transfer companies, and because the official currency of Timor-Leste is the U.S. dollar, the exchange rate is not a factor to him. So he scrutinizes the fees and how quickly Charlie will receive the money. He wants to send $1,000. The results of his comparison are found in the table below.

Money transfer company 1 Money transfer company 2
Transfer fee using credit card$81$81
Transfer fee using bank account$25$8
Transfer methodOnlineAgent location
Processing timewithin minutes4 business days
How will the money be receivedcash pick-upcash pick-up

As you can see, if Tony uses Company 2 and has the money drafted from his bank account, he will only pay $8 in fees. However, he will have to go to an agent location, and Charlie won’t receive his money for 4 days. If he uses Company 1 and has the money drafted from his bank account, it will cost him $25, but Charlie will get the funds almost immediately.

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How do I compare transfer companies when sending money to Timor-Leste?

  • Transfer fees. Transaction fees can range from a couple of bucks up to $70 or even more. So it pays to check how much you’ll have to pay for each transaction before you sign up for an account with a transfer provider.
  • Transfer methods. Online, over the phone, via a mobile app and/or by visiting a branch — how does the company allow you to send transfers?
  • Flexible options. Can you lock in an ideal exchange rate now and transfer the money later, known as a forward contract? Does the institution offer limit orders, which allows you to take advantage of changing market conditions by executing the money transfer when a certain exchange rate is met? Can you schedule recurring payments?
  • Turnaround time. Check to see how long the company will take to deliver the money to your beneficiary. Processing times can vary from a few minutes to five business days or more.
  • Transfer limits. Some companies impose minimum and maximum transaction limits, so check to see if these limits will affect you.
  • Pickup options. Will the money be sent to your recipient’s bank account, or will they be able to pick up cash from a transfer agent?
  • Customer service. Are phone, email and live online chat available? How quickly will the customer support team answer any questions you have?
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Foreign exchange rates explained
The exchange rate determines how much one country’s currency is worth in another currency. When a country’s currency is strong, it will yield more money when exchanging it in a country with a weak currency. For example, in December 2016, the U.S dollar was worth approximately 19 Mexican pesos. However, most countries’ exchange rates are flexible, which means it can change from moment to moment. Factors that influence the exchange rate include interest rates, economic stability and inflation.

What are my options for sending money to Timor-Leste from the U.S.?

  • Specialist transfer companies. Dedicated online transfer companies provide fast and cost-effective international transactions.
  • Cash pickup transfer providers. Search online to see if a cash pickup transfer company has convenient locations in Timor-Leste for your recipient.
  • Bank transfers. Ask for a quote from your bank so you can get an idea of the exchange rate you will receive and the fee you will have to pay to send money to Timor-Leste.
  • International guaranteed checks. Another option, although a little time-consuming, is to obtain an international check from your bank and mail it to your recipient overseas.
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Emergency cash transfers in Timor-Leste

Sometimes you need to get money to another country as fast as possible. If you need to send an emergency cash transfer to Timor-Leste, be prepared to pay more than you would for a normal transaction. Higher transfer fees and lower exchange rates are common features of emergency transfers, so it’s always a good idea to review the transaction details before you send any funds. This is the best way to ensure that you aren’t surprised the next time you check your bank balance.
Find a money transfer location near you

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Tips for picking up cash in Timor-Leste

It is recommended to exercise a high degree of caution, so take care when collecting cash from a transfer agent. Confirm the agent’s location and opening hours before visiting, and only go to a cash pickup branch in an area you know to be safe. Take a friend along rather than pick up cash alone, and make sure not to display your cash in public and make yourself an easy target for thieves.

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What are the steps to send money to Timor-Leste?

The transfer method you must follow will vary depending on the transfer provider you choose, but you will generally need to:

  1. Sign up for an account. This is usually free to do. You may be able to sign up online or by visiting a branch, and you’ll need to supply your name, contact details and proof of ID.
  2. Provide your transaction details. You’ll need to specify where you are sending the money, how much you are sending and who will be receiving the funds.
  3. Complete your transfer. You can then submit your transfer after reviewing the exchange rate you will receive and the transaction fee you will need to pay. Most providers will then give you a reference number that you can use to track the progress of your funds.
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