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

6 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 know about Santander international transfer, including 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.

ProviderFeeExchange RateTotal Cost
Santander Bank (UK)£25¹Exchange rate + markup£25 + exchange rate markup + likely fees from intermediary and recipient banks
TransferWise£4.25The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google£4.25

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.

Santander international transfer fees

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 international bank transfer fees

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. Santander international transfer fees can be summarized as follows:

Santander UK TransactionFee
Incoming international transfer¹
  • None (from Santander)
Outgoing international transfer¹
  • £25 electronic transfer (standard)
  • No fee for electronic euro transfer (non-urgent SEPA)
  • £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 that²:

>“You can make and receive payments to and from the UK and other countries. Payments and cash in withdrawals in foreign currency: a) will be converted to/from pounds at our current exchange rate as at the date we receive the payment instruction for that type of transaction; b) may have charges deducted by other correspondent banks that are used in the routing of the payment.”

Their General Terms and Conditions² also state:

Our exchange rates for foreign currency payments are based on our Santander reference exchange rates for the relevant currency. We have different reference rates depending on the size of the transaction and whether you are buying (if you are sending a payment) or selling currency (if you are receiving a payment into your account). Details of the relevant reference exchange rate will be displayed online when you make a payment and are also available in branch or by calling us on 0800 9 123 123.

Using a currency converter can help you compare Santander’s rate for that day with the mid-market exchange rate.

Additional fees from Santander UK

Santander UK international transferAdditional fees
Sending/recipient bank and/or intermediary bank(s)Santander notes online, “There may be third party Correspondent banks used in the routing of an international payment, that apply their own charges for processing an International Payment which may be deducted from the money sent by you. This will mean that the sum of money received by the beneficiary may be less than the amount of money you have sent.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 accounts to transfer your money to other local accounts, so you don’t have to pay international transaction fees.

TransferWise’s Borderless multi-currency account lets you 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, mid-market exchange rate.

TransferWise charges a transparent fee on each transaction, which is a percentage of the transaction amount.

Join TransferWise for free

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
  • By One Pay FX app

On the Santander UK digital banking site

Santander UK maintains an online banking portal for all its customers. 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 a hold 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.

By OnePay FX app

Santander’s mobile phone app also lets you transfer money abroad, however, the mobile app is only available for iPhone users running iOS10 or above.

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:

  • Recipient’s full name and their account number or IBAN
  • Their BIC
  • 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 ABBYGB2LXXX

How long does an international bank transfer with Santander take?

When will funds show up in the destination account?

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

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 on the same-day as long as the transaction is headed to a USD or EUR 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.

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 such as TransferWise.

Start saving with TransferWise today


  1. Santander - making international payments
  2. Santander - general terms and conditions
  3. Santander - support page

All sources checked on December 3, 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.

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