Low-fee alternatives to banks for international money transfers.
International money transfer companies trade large amounts of money, which means they are able to offer more competitive exchange rates, lower service fees and quicker delivery. Thanks to the poor transfer deals offered by banks, there has been growth in the number of money transfer companies offering quick, cheap repatriation services, at increasingly competitive rates.
You can even opt for a pick-up service, where your recipient collects the cash in person.
What is repatriation of funds?
Whether you are transferring a pension payment, your salary or liquidated assets, using a money transfer company can help you save in a big way, which means better value for money. This kind of service is ideal for expats who regularly send larger amounts of money back to New Zealand, like whole salaries or pension payments.
If you are considering moving back to New Zealand after a period spent abroad, you can have all your assets repatriated. Check for restrictions on the amount you are able to send and any fees charged.
Case study: moving back to New Zealand
After nine years spent in Texas, Adrian and his family have decided to move back home to Wellington. They have a house in Texas, two cars and a small flat they rent to students. Both Adrian and his wife have resigned and opted to have their pensions paid out in lump sums into their joint bank account. Both properties are in escrow and they have found buyers for both cars. Adrian is put off by his bank’s high fees, so he has been doing some research on cheaper, quicker ways to repatriate their funds.
|Money transfer service||Bank|
|Exchange rate||US$1 = NZD$1.49||US$1 = NZD$1.35|
|Amount for US$20,000||$29,800||$26,982|
|Transfer delay||One business day||Two business days|
|Transfer options||Online, telephone||Online, telephone|
Can I benefit from repatriating funds?
Unlike banks, money transfer companies buy currency in bulk. This means they benefit from lower exchange rates and are able to provide their customers with cheaper foreign exchange and repatriation services. Money is transferred quickly, usually within a maximum of three business days. If you are sending money to a friend or relative, you can choose the cash pick-up option so your recipient can collect the money in person.
What is the process for repatriating funds?
Ready to send money back to New Zealand? Be sure the service you choose will accept the amount you wish to send as some services have restrictions or charge a fee on transfers over a certain amount. Here are the steps you need to take when repatriating funds:
- Step 1. Read up on the rules. Make sure you understand the transfer company’s rules. Minimum and maximum transfer amounts vary from country to country.
- Step 2. Check restrictions, foreign exchange controls and tax impositions. Depending on the country you are sending funds from, you may have to apply for permission or register with the country’s foreign exchange authority. You may also have to pay certain fees and taxes for the repatriation service.
- Step 3. Sign up for an account. You will have to provide certain personal and financial details. In most cases, you send the money to the transfer service account and they in turn send it to your recipient’s account.
- Step 4. Leave a paper trail. There are several regulations in place to fight money-laundering, so make sure you carefully document every step of the process. That way you can show where your money has been.
Pros and cons of using a money transfer service
When deciding the best way to send money back to New Zealand, keep these pros and cons in mind.
- Exchange rates are usually better. Since money transfer companies buy currency in bulk, they are able to pass along considerable savings to their customers. This means you get more New Zealand dollars from the currency conversion process.
- You can look forward to lower fees. Whereas bank repatriation services come with high fees, transfer companies levy low (sometimes zero) charges for repatriation services.
- There are usually high tax rates. If you retain a permanent residence in New Zealand while working abroad, you are still considered a New Zealand tax resident, meaning you will be taxed on your worldwide income. Depending on the company you choose, check to see how this will impact on the amount received in New Zealand after tax.
- There could be limits imposed. In most cases, countries apply restrictions on the amount of money you can repatriate to New Zealand. Whether you intend to send a single amount or instalments, make sure you understand the restriction rules.
Are there any risks?
The onus is on you to make sure the transfer company you choose is reputable, reliable and recognised with the correct accreditation (like the Financial Markets Authority). Conducting thorough research on security is especially important when sending large amounts of money, like lump-sum pensions and liquidated assets.
Find out the best time to benefit from a favourable exchange rate, applicable income taxes and associated fees for the conversion and transfer of currency to NZ dollars.
Frequently asked questions
Here are a few common questions about repatriation.