Many British citizens and residents have family and friends located overseas. They may want to send cash to them or settle their own bills payable in another country. Both of these situations need an international money transfer, either via a traditional bank or through one of the many specialist money transfer organizations. Your British Pounds are converted into the required currency and sent to your specified destination.
You can also make money transfers to other people and businesses located in the United Kingdom.
Here’s how it works.
Transferring internationally via a traditional bank
A transfer through a bank is called a telegraphic transfer (TT), a wire transfer or a SWIFT transfer. This is usually a more expensive option (for both transfer fees and currency exchange rates) than using one of the many international money transfer specialists. You’ll also need a lot of information about the recipient’s bank account, including:
- The bank’s name and address
- The account name
- The account number
- The receiving bank’s BIC/SWIFT code, or other code depending on the destination country
- The recipient’s bank account IBAN code
Transferring via a money transfer specialist
You can make transfers through a money transfer specialist either in person or online at a branch or agency. Some agencies allow you to make transfers by phone. You’ll first need to register once only with your chosen transfer company. The registration process involves providing identification documents, such as a driver’s license or passport.
Next, each time you want to make a transfer, you’ll need to specify:
- The destination country
- The amount you want to send in either GBP or the destination country’s currency
- The delivery method (e.g. bank account or cash pick-up)
- Your payment method
Once you confirm the details and make the payment, the funds will be transferred. You’ll normally get lower fees and a better exchange rate than you would with a standard bank.
Transfer methods available from money transfer specialists
You have four methods available when it comes to transferring money overseas:
- In-person, over the counter at the money transfer specialist’s branch
- Via a mobile app
- By phone
Pick-up methods available to the recipient
When you use a money transfer specialist, there are just as many ways for the person at the other end to receive the money:
- Into a bank account
- Cash pick-up in person
- Into a mobile wallet (not available from all providers or for all currencies)
- Door-to-door cash delivery (not available from all providers)
How to fund a transfer via a money transfer specialist
No matter what currency you choose for the recipient to collect the funds in, you’ll need to pay the equivalent amount, plus fees, in GBP. Your payment options include:
- GBP bank transfer
- Credit cards (including those that earn rewards and frequent flyer points)
- Debit card
- Prepaid card
Alternatives to an international money transfer
There are other ways to send cash if you don’t like the idea of a money transfer:
- Crypto. You could buy a stablecoin and send that to the recipient's wallet. Fees could be quite high depending on the exchange used.
- International money order. Banks can issue you with a paper international money order or international bank draft in the currency of your choice, payable to a person or business you specify. You send the money order in the mail. It’s slow, and costs more than an online transfer.
- Sending banknotes in the mail. Definitely not recommended because the cash could be lost or stolen. It is, in any case, prohibited to send banknotes and coins overseas using Royal Mail.