Santander UK international wire transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

TransferWise content team
7 minute read

If you bank with Santander UK and are looking to send or receive money internationally, you may be overwhelmed with information about how to safely and transparently move your funds. The good news is, you might actually be able to save some money if you use a service like TransferWise. But more on that later.

This post walks you through everything you’ll need to avoid high fees and long wait times.

Before we get started, here’s a quick example.

Let’s say you want to see the difference between transferring £1,000 to a US dollar bank account in the US using Santander UK versus using TransferWise.

Provider Fee Exchange Rate Total Cost
Santander Bank (UK) £25¹ Exchange rate + markup £25 + exchange rate markup + likely fees from intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise £4.78 The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google £4.78

Santander UK’s fees are clearly higher, no matter what kind of transfer you choose.

But fees aren’t all you should consider when choosing how to make your transfer. Many banks also markup exchange rates on international transfers by 4-6%. Plus, there are normally 1-3 intermediary and recipient banks who also charge fees.

You can see how these costs can start to add up.

Before choosing a transfer service, compare the offered exchange rate to the mid-market rate using an online currency converter. That way, you’ll have a better idea of what your transfer actually will cost you.

What are the fees for an international money transfer with Santander bank in the UK?

Santander doesn’t charge its customers to receive international money transfers, though you may get charged by the recipient’s bank. Below are the fees you can expect in order to move money around the globe. Note that intermediary fees can’t be predicted by your bank, and depend on the recipient’s bank and how it receives money from abroad.

Santander UK International transfer fees table

There are different options for who pays the fees¹. With Santander, the default option is that you and the recipient share the fees. This means that you pay the Santander fees, and the recipient pays the receiving fees. You can also choose to pay all the fees - when you choose this option it will be more likely that your recipient receives the full amount, although Santander does state that they can’t guarantee this. The 3rd option is to have the recipient pay all the fees, which will then be taken off the amount you send. The international transfer fees for Santander UK can be summarized as follows:

Santander UK Transaction Fee
Incoming international transfer¹ None (from Santander)
Outgoing international transfer¹ £25 electronic transfer£15 electronic transfer SEPA/non-urgent£10 currency draft
Additional fees See below

Santander UK exchange rates

Exchange rates change day to day, and banks don’t always use mid-market rates or the rates you might find when you search on Google. If you’re sending money to a bank account that operates in a different currency, make sure and check with a Santander representative on the day you intend to send or receive money internationally, so you know what you’ll be charged (and whether that charge is marked up).

Generally, an intermediary bank will perform a currency conversion. However, when Santander receives a payment that is meant for you, and the money still has to be converted, they note that¹:

"If the funds are received in a foreign currency we will automatically convert them into Sterling using our exchange rate for payments made into your account on the day we receive the funds.”

When you make an international payment to someone, and Santander will do the conversion, they state in their General Terms and Conditions² that:

The exchange rate to be used will be determined by our current exchange rate on the day your account is debited. You will be notified in writing about the exchange rate that was used on the payment.

In other words, you will only find out what the exact exchange rate was after the payment has been completed.

To see if you’re getting a marked-up exchange rate, you would have to compare Santander’s rate for that day with the mid-market rate using a currency converter.

Additional fees from Santander UK

Santander UK international transfer Additional fees
Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s) Santander notes online, “There may be other third party banks that apply charges in effecting the International Payment which may be deducted from the amount transferred by you or from funds received by you via an International Payment. This will mean that the sum received by the beneficiary or by you may be less than the amount you have sent or received.²” Speak to a representative to find out if your transfer will be subject to intermediary bank fees.

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

TransferWise can be a good alternative to your bank and they can save you some headache, markups, and hidden fees when you’re transferring money. TransferWise uses a network of local bank account to transfer your money to other local accounts, so you don’t have to pay international transaction fees.

With the new TransferWise borderless multi-currency account, you’re able to quickly and easily open an account in dozens of currencies - including the Great British pound. Use the borderless account to manage your money and pay bills around the world, using the real exchange rate. TransferWise charges a transparent fee on each transaction, which is a percentage of the transaction amount.

How do you make an international electronic transfer with Santander UK?

Santander UK gives its customers the option to conduct banking business in any of the following ways¹:

  • Online
  • In person at the branch closest to you
  • By phone

On the Santander UK digital banking site

Santander UK maintains an online banking portal for all its customers. If you use a mobile device for your banking, this website is also available through the Santander app. Note that if you are hoping to initiate an international bank transfer online with Santander, you’ll need a mobile device nearby, as you’ll be sent a one-time passcode to verify your identity.

In person at a local branch

Let your teller know the details of your transaction, ie how much money, which type of transfer, and where it’s headed, and they’ll be able to process your fund transfer for you. Be sure and read below, on what information you’ll need to have ready before you head into your local branch.

By phone

Get ahold of Santander UK on 0800 9 123 123, and have your account information (and the information of the recipient, as outlined below) ready. This will include the PIN and login information you use to bank online.

What do I need in order to make an international electronic transfer?

In order to send money outside the UK from a Santander account, you’ll need the following information on hand¹:

  • BIC/SWIFT of the recipient

  • IBAN of the recipient, if sending within the Eurozone, or account number if outside it.

  • Any specific routing information the recipient’s bank may require in order to accept funds from abroad.

What do I need or what should I give to the sender in order to receive an international electronic transfer?

Santander UK is set up to receive international money transfers for its customers as well. If you are on the receiving end of a money transfer, here’s what you’ll need to give the sender¹:

  • Your IBAN (International Bank Account Number), sort code, and account code if you have one
  • Santander UK’s SWIFT/BIC code, which is ABBYGB2L.
  • Your full name
  • Your bank’s address
  • The amount and the currency you’d like to receive the payment in

Santander does not charge recipients to receive payments from abroad, but the sending bank may deduct charges from the amount being sent. You’ll want to sort out with the sender how their bank charges to send money.

How long does an international electronic transfer with Santander take?

When will funds show up in the destination account?

If you are sending to an account that accepts Euro or USD, the funds should hit the recipient’s account same business day, assuming they’re sent before the cut-off time, but Santander notes¹:

“The settlement date is the day upon which the payment will usually reach the beneficiary's bank. Santander cannot guarantee that the beneficiary will receive the funds on that day, as this is beyond the control of the sending bank.”

Santander offers a comprehensive table of cut-off times¹ depending on currency and type of transfer. The longest a Santander international money transfer should take is four working days.

Is there any way to make a faster transfer for an extra fee?

The fastest option Santander offers for transferring money abroad is an electronic transfer, which costs £25, and can be done online, by phone, or in person. This type of transfer arrives in the same-day as long as the transaction is headed to a USD or EEA account¹.

Does the amount of time it takes vary by destination?

Recipient accounts outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and the USA can expect to wait a bit longer, up to four working days from initiation of transfer¹.

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

If you would like some more information you can take a look at the support page of Santander’s website³. Here you can also find different ways of contacting the bank, in case you can’t find the information you need on their website.

There are always logistics to consider when doing business abroad. With this article, you will have everything you need to transfer or receive money internationally, whether you choose to go through Santander UK or consider other options.


¹, March 27th 2018

², March 27th 2018

³, March 27th 2018

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.

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