Money transfer services differ when it comes to setting up your account and initiating a transfer.
If you’re looking to send money to friends, family or businesses quickly and safely, you might want to know more about the process of sending a money transfer. But with so many options — your local bank, a money store and online specialists — what can you expect when signing up or transferring funds worldwide?
What information do I need to send a money transfer?
The information required to send a money transfer will differ slightly by bank or provider, your recipient’s location and your method of delivery.
Sending an international money transfer online
Regardless of whether you choose to send a transfer through your Internet banking account or using a specialist online transfer company such as WorldFirst, the details you need to provide remain the same.
You must supply:
- The recipient’s name
- The account name
- The recipient’s home address (supplying this information is optional with some providers)
- The recipient’s account number
Based on the country you are transferring funds to, you will also need to supply one of the following:
- IBAN (International bank account number)
- ABA (American Bankers Association) routing number
- Bank and branch
- IFSC (Indian Financial System Code)
- SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) or BIC (Bank Identifier Code)
For example, the ABA routing number is used to identify banks in the United States and you will need to provide it or a SWIFT for transfers to that country, while if you’re sending a transfer to Europe you will need the IBAN and the SWIFT of the recipient’s bank. Your bank or money transfer provider will be able to provide specific information about the bank details you need to supply during the transfer process.
Apart from your recipient’s bank account details, you will also need to provide some specific details about the transfer, including:
- The currency you wish to send
- The amount you are sending
- The purpose of the transfer
Sending an international cash transfer in person
If you don’t have a bank account or merely prefer cold, hard cash, you’ll find providers that accept cash payments for international money transfers. The best-known services for cash transfers are Western Union and MoneyGram.
Western Union allows you to send in person at more than 500,000 locations in over 200 countries. MoneyGram also offers online and in-person transfers to more than 200 countries, with some 350,000 agent locations around the globe.
For domestic transfers, look no further than your local Walmart store. Through a partnership with MoneyGram, you can send cash from your nearest store to any Walmart in the US or Puerto Rico or to any of MoneyGram’s agents worldwide.
The details you need to provide when sending a cash transfer are a little different, as you will typically need to supply:
- Photo identification for yourself (a passport or driver’s license will do)
- Your recipient’s full name (this must match the recipient’s name as it appears on their ID)
- Your recipient’s address
- Money to complete the transaction
It’s also worth remembering that you will need to be at least 18 years of age to send a transfer overseas.
What information do I need to receive a money transfer?
Depending on whether you’re receiving the money from an overseas bank account or you’re collecting a cash transfer, you’ll need different information.
Receiving an online international money transfer
If someone wants to transfer money to you from an overseas bank account, you’ll need to make sure they have all the relevant details needed to complete the transaction. These include:
- Your name
- The name of your bank
- Your bank’s BIC/SWIFT code
- Your bank’s BSB (Bank State Branch) number
- Your account number
- Your address
IBANs are not used in the United States, but banks and transfer providers in some countries will require an IBAN to be provided before the transfer can be processed. If this is the case, you can combine your BSB and account number.
It’s also worth pointing out that you may be charged a fee by your bank for receiving an international transfer.
Receiving an international cash transfer
If you’re visiting a transfer provider’s branch to collect a cash transfer, you will need to provide:
- Photo ID, for example your driver’s license or passport
- The reference number quoted to you by the person who sent the transfer
Depending on the size of the transfer, you may need to phone ahead to confirm that the agent has sufficient cash to complete the transaction. This is also useful if you need to check a branch’s location or opening hours.
Money transfer providers and required documentation
|Approval waiting period||Social Security number required?||Required documents|
|TransferWise||No waiting period for approval.||None|
|WorldRemit||No waiting period for first transfer — but you must submit ID for verification before second transfer.|
|Xoom||No waiting period beyond email confirmation. But you’ll need to speak to a Xoom representative to verify your first transfer.|
|Sharemoney||No waiting period beyond email verification.|
|Western Union||No waiting period beyond email verification.||None|
|RIA||No waiting period for approval.||None|
|MoneyGram||No waiting period for approval.|
|World First||Receive a call to confirm your information with a representative after signup.||Passport|
|PayPal||Confirm your email and wait for bank account approval.||None|
|Pangea||No waiting period for approval.||None|
|Small World Money Transfer||Receive a confirmation email shortly after registration, with ID required to send your first transfer.|
|Circle||Upload your ID for verification.|
|Transfast||No waiting period for approval.||None|
|Wikipay||No waiting period for approval.|
|Currencies Direct International||Submit identifying documents and speak to a representative.|
|TorFX||Confirm your account by email and speak to a TorFX representative. After, you may be required to email further documentation.|
|Remitly||No waiting period for approval.||None|
|MoneyCorp||Submit identifying information online after applying. You may also need to speak with a representative for approval.|
|OFX||Speak with an OFX representative to complete approval.|
|XE||Upload documentation and wait for approval.||Government-issued ID|
|Wyre||Because accounts are approved manually, you’ll need to wait for approval.|
Am I required to share my Social Security number?
With most money transfer providers, you’ll need to provide specific personal information to establish your identity. This is because most companies that sell money transfers are subject to anti–money laundering laws and counter-terrorist financing standards, which require providers to exercise their due diligence to confirm that you’re not using their services for terrorist or otherwise nefarious activities.
“Identifying information” doesn’t always mean your Social Security number, however. But you’ll nearly always need to submit at least your government-issued ID, like your driver’s license or passport, to continue through the transfer process. MoneyGram is one provider that needs to see your official photo ID but not necessarily your SSN.
Note that Remitly and a few other providers may require your Social Security number to upgrade your account to unlimited or high-limit maximums.
What if I don’t have the required documentation?
Whether you can continue with your transfer without the required documentation will depend on your provider. A few may simply limit how much you can send your first transfer, while others may not allow you to send anything at all.
You may be able to get around documentation with a peer-to-peer app like Venmo or Circle. If you have a valid account with any of the banks that use Zelle — like Bank of America, Chase, Capital One or USAA — you’re already set up for domestic transfers of up to $2,500. Simply visit your bank’s website or download its app to begin sending money.
ID and other documentation is necessary for providers to satisfy federal laws in place to prevent money laundering and other potentially illicit activities.
Top tips for sending or receiving an international money transfer
Check details carefully
It’s your responsibility to ensure that the bank account details you provide for your recipient are correct. If you make a mistake and the funds are sent to the wrong account, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to recover those funds.
Check the exchange rate
Exchange rates vary from one transfer provider to the next, and even a minor variation in rates can make a big difference to the affordability of a transfer. Search for a provider that consistently offers competitive exchange rates.
Be aware of transfer fees
Make sure you’re aware of the fee the bank or money transfer provider charges for handling the transfer, and check whether the receiving bank will take a cut by imposing its own fees.
Use a reputable transfer provider
Make sure that any transfer provider you choose is reputable and trustworthy before handing over any bank details or money. The last thing you want to do is disclose your own or your recipient’s account information to a dodgy company.
Compare online money transfers
You have many options when it comes to a money transfer, but nearly all will require at least some documentation to establish your identity — and keep the provider out of hot water with the government. Weigh the requirements when considering a money transfer specialist that’s right for your needs.