How Long Does an International Money Transfer Take? 2023
How long it takes an international money transfer to arrive can depend on the provider or bank processing the payment. Banks often send money using the SWIFT network - which can mean delivery times of 3 - 5 days for some currency routes. Specialist providers, like Wise, Remitly or OFX may be able to process your payment faster and for lower overall fees.
Ultimately, the length of time it takes to get your money moving will depend on your provider, the destination, and the type of payment. Read on for all you need to know.
To build a picture of how long an international money transfer from the UK may take, let’s look at delivery times for a few popular banks and online providers.
|Bank or specialist provider||Estimated international payment delivery time|
|Wise||Instant - 2 days|
|CurrencyFair||1 - 3 days|
|XE||2 - 3 days|
|OFX||1 - 3 days|
|Lloyds Bank||1 - 3 working days|
|Barclays Bank||Delivery times vary - you’ll be notified of the estimated delivery date when you process your payment|
Up to 4 working days for major currency routes
Outside of major currencies, payments may take up to 14 days
Bank payments can take 3 or 4 days for major currencies, and will only be processed within banking hours and subject to meeting cut-off times
Specialists in international money transfers may be able to make payments instantly available, and can often be faster than banks
How many days does an international money transfer take?
International transfer delivery times can vary widely based on which bank or provider you use, the currencies involved and where your money is going.
With a bank you’ll need to make sure you get your transfer set up before the cut off time for your payment type and destination. Otherwise the transfer process won’t start until the next working day, which can cause extra delays.
Traditional banks then typically rely on the SWIFT network to process international transfers. SWIFT is established and reliable - but it’s also often slow and expensive. Under the SWIFT system, several banks may work in partnership to process a single payment, which can mean delivery times of around 3 - 5 working days.
Specialist fintech providers can often get payments moving faster, without needing to hit a specific cut off time. They may also use their own payment networks which are more modern than SWIFT, to speed up the transfer process significantly. That can mean payments arriving in destination accounts almost instantly on some popular currency routes.
What can slow down an international bank transfer?
Ultimately the time it takes for your international bank transfer to arrive can vary based on a few factors. Common issues that slow down an international bank transfer include:
1. Additional checks
Banks and money transfer services have to comply with the law in the UK and in the destination country - which may mean additional verification checks are needed to process payments. This is especially common if you’re sending a higher value transfer - you may be asked to provide information about the payment purpose and prove the source of the funds for example.
Checks like these can slow down transfers - but they’re designed to prevent illegal or fraudulent payments, and keep customers safe.
2. Incorrect or incomplete recipient information
To send an international transfer you’ll need to provide a set of information about the recipient, including their full bank details. Exactly what you need to provide will vary depending on the way the payment is processed, and the destination country. However, using incomplete or incorrect information may mean your transfer is delayed, rejected, or even sent to the wrong recipient.
Double checking all the details are correct before you confirm a payment is crucial.
3. Cut off times and working hours
Banks usually have specific cut off times, after which payments won’t be processed until the next working day. These can vary widely by bank and currency. Once your payment is moving, it can also be slowed down by banking hours, weekends, and public holidays both in the UK and in the destination country.
3. The bank or provider’s processes
Finally, the way your bank or preferred provider processes the payment can also be a cause of delay. If you’re using your bank, your payment will usually be processed through SWIFT, so the time taken can change depending on which - and how many - partner banks are involved in the transfer process. If you’re using a specialist, delivery times will also often depend on how long it takes for your money to be received and cleared by the payment provider, and how they convert the currencies.
The good news is that many banks and most international payment providers can give you an estimated delivery time when you confirm your transfer, so you’ll have an idea what to expect.
International money transfers with providers
As we’ve mentioned, sending money with a specialist provider can often work out to be faster and cheaper than using a bank - here are a few popular options to consider:
Around 50% of international payments with Wise arrive instantly, and 90% of the total are delivered within 24 hours. Wise currency conversion also uses the mid-market exchange rate which means it’s easy to see what you’re paying for your transfer, with no hidden fees or intermediary costs.
|Wise Pros||Wise Cons|
If you’re sending a major currency with OFX it’ll usually be received within 24 hours. More unusual currencies may take a little longer, but will normally be with the recipient in 3 - 5 days at worst. OFX doesn’t charge a transfer fee, and offers a 24/7 service online, in-app and by phone.
|OFX Pros||OFX Cons|
Remitly can often get your money where it needs to be instantly if you choose an Express service and pay with a card. For convenience, you can have your money collected in cash by your recipient, or delivered to a bank account. Cheaper Economy services can take a few days to arrive.
Remitly is designed to serve major remittance routes, sending from 20+ large developed economies only. You can’t make payments between send countries.
|Remitly Pros||Remitly Cons|
International bank to bank transfers
You can choose to send your international payment through your bank, using your online or mobile banking, by phone, or in a branch. Large global banking brands often have a presence in many countries around the world, which may mean they can support faster payments, or lower their fees on specific routes. However, you’ll need to check your own bank’s policies to confirm if this is an option for you.
In most cases, banks process payments headed abroad through SWIFT, which can mean a delivery time of 3 - 5 days. Because cross border payments aren’t their main business, banks may also have higher fees and a less favourable rate compared to international money transfer specialists.
What is needed to make an international transfer
As we mentioned earlier, having the full and correct information for your transfer is crucial to make sure it’s processed safely. Exactly what’s required varies a bit depending on the payment type - but you’ll usually be asked for:
Your recipient’s full name and address
Your recipient’s bank name and address
Your recipient’s bank account number or IBAN
Your recipient’s bank SWIFT/BIC code
For high value payments you may need to provide verification documents - and some countries have additional requirements, like using a routing number for the US.
Are there any fast international money transfer options?
Fintech providers, like Wise or Remitly may be your best option if you’re trying to get your money overseas fast. You’ll be able to compare a few options and get a delivery estimate before you confirm your payment, to see which works best for you.
It may also be worth considering a provider like Western Union which offers cash transfers that can be delivered on the same day - although the fees for this service may be higher than sending to a bank account.
How to transfer money internationally
International transfer processes do vary by provider - but here’s a basic outline of the steps required:
Choose the bank or provider that suits your needs
Gather your recipient’s information - name, account number and so on
Set up your payment by adding the amount of the payment and destination currency
Check over the exchange rate and fees
Enter your recipient’s information online, in a bank branch, or over the phone
Confirm the details and fund the payment
Once your money is moving you’ll usually be able to track it online or in an app, so you know when it arrives at its destination.
When you’re sending money internationally from the UK you can use your own bank or a specialist provider. If you’re making your transfer with your bank it may take a few days to arrive, while specialist services like Wise and Remitly might be able to offer a faster service delivered online or in-app.
International bank transfers usually take 3 - 5 working days. However, for some destinations and currencies, they may take a little longer.
International transfers with banks can take a few days if they’re processed through SWIFT, as they’ll be passed through one or more partner banks to arrive at their destination.
International bank account transfers can take 3 - 5 days with many banks, or may arrive faster if you use a specialist provider.
Delivery times vary based on the payment route, but it’s common for SWIFT transfers to take 3 - 5 working days.
Many specialist international transfer providers let you track your payment in an app or online, so you can see when your money has been received.
International money transfer specialists may be able to get your money where it needs to be instantly, or within a day on many payment routes. Delivery times vary based on the payment details, but you can see an estimate when you create your transfer so you know what to expect.