Receiving Money from Overseas: The Lowdown

TransferWise
30.10.20
4 minute read

Want to receive money from a friend or relative abroad, or get paid by a client or business based in another country? This guide is just for you.

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know to receive money from overseas. This includes the different ways you can receive your payment, how long it takes and the different international transfer services you can choose from.

For example, open a free TransferWise multi-currency account and you can receive international payments for free. That’s right – no fees at all, just fast, reliable payments from all over the world.

We’ll look at this in more detail later. First, let’s focus on the general process for receiving money from overseas.

Receiving money from overseas

There are a few different options for receiving money from overseas. Your sender can use an international money transfer service, make a bank-to-bank transfer or use an international money order (similar to a cheque).

Depending which method is used, you may be able to choose how to collect your money too. For example, you can pick it up in cash or have it sent directly to your bank account.

In this guide, we’ll focus on receiving money in your bank account. Here’s how it works:

  1. The sender arranges the payment through an international transfer service or their bank. They’ll need a few details to do this – such as your bank details, including your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) if required.
  2. The sender pays for the transfer, sending the agreed sum plus any transfer fees. They’ll also need to factor in exchange rates, as this will affect how much the transfer costs and how much you’ll receive at the other end.
  3. Depending on the provider, it can take around 1-5 business days¹ for the money to arrive in your bank account.

Receiving money with a local bank account

One of the simplest ways to receive money from abroad is to have it deposited in your local bank account. By local, we’re talking about a bank account in your name in the country where you live. It takes between 1-5 working days², and you don’t need to do a thing to receive the money in your account.

Payments can be sent to your bank account either from the sender’s bank, or using a money transfer service. When a sending bank is involved, the payment will usually be sent via the SWIFT worldwide bank network³.

With SWIFT transfers, the payment is unlikely to go directly from the sender’s bank to yours. It’s more common for a number of intermediary banks to be involved. Think of it like using connecting flights to reach a destination because a direct flight isn’t available.

Unfortunately, these transfers can take longer and cost more, as all the intermediary banks add their own fees into the mix.

On top of this, each intermediary bank could apply their currency exchange mark-up, meaning that more of the original payment is lost along the way.

The sender will often cover these fees, but not always. You could end up having to cough up for some or all of the transfer fees and costs yourself.

Receiving money with local bank details

Luckily, there is a cheaper alternative to bank-to-bank transfers and the SWIFT system.

Instead of receiving money directly into your local bank account, you can instead receive it with local bank details. Confused? It’s actually quite simple.

Money transfer specialists like TransferWise use a peer-to-peer system, which uses smart technology to connect local bank accounts around the world.

Open a multi-currency account with TransferWise and you’ll automatically get bank details that are local to the currency you’ll be paid in⁴. You can give the sender those details, and the money will be sent to your TransferWise account instead of your bank.

So, for example, if your sender is in the UK and you’re in Australia, you’ll give them your UK bank details from your TransferWise account. They’ll use these to pay you in GBP like a local. The best part? There are no fees involved with this peer-to-peer method, and it can sometimes even be quicker than using the bank and the SWIFT system.

A few different options

If you’d like to swerve high bank fees for receiving money from overseas, there are a couple of alternative services you can choose from.

Peer-to-peer transfers are yet to take off in Australia so there aren’t heaps of options, but these are the main players you should know about.

TransferWise
TransferWise is one of the most popular peer-to-peer services for low cost international transfers. As we’ve touched on above, if you have a TransferWise borderless account, you can receive money for free by providing the sender with local bank details.

Once the money arrives, you can convert it into another currency or withdraw to your bank account for tiny fees. You’ll always get the real exchange rate, with no costly mark-up on top. There’s also the option of sending money to someone else, or spending in the local currency with your TransferWise Platinum debit MasterCard.

CurrencyFair⁵

Another peer-to-peer money transfer service, CurrencyFair offers bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfers. The platform is pretty easy to use and there are often deals available for your first few transfers. However, at the moment the number of currencies is limited to just over 15.


And that’s pretty much everything you need to know to receive money from overseas. Who knew there were better and cheaper ways to do it than simply using your bank?


Sources used:

  1. Comparing Peer to Peer money transfer services.
  2. Comparing Peer to Peer money transfer services.
  3. TransferWise vs Bank Transfer.
  4. TransferWise - Getting Paid
  5. Peer to Peer Money

Sources checked on 1-October 2020.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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