Scotiabank international transfer: Fees, rates and transfer time

21.02.18
8 minute read
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Whatever your reason for wanting to transfer money abroad, it’s a good idea to learn about how Scotiabank will deal with your international money transfer. This depends to an extent, on the type of account you have, and whether you want to process your transaction online or in a branch. Scotiabank’s personal customers can make outgoing international money transfers online through Western Union, or you can arrange international bank transfers, known as a wire transfer, if you visit your branch in person. A transfer using the Western Union system will mean that the recipient has to go to their local Western Union representative - often a grocery store or a bank branch - with an ID, to collect their cash.

As you’d expect, there are some costs involved in making an international transfer with Scotiabank, so it’s a good idea to research in advance so you can minimise fees and avoid surprises. Likely, you could save quite a bit of money by using a new transfer service like TransferWise. But more on that later.


A quick example before we get started.

A theoretical bank transfer sending C$1000 from Canada to a pound sterling bank account in the UK.

Provider Fee Exchange Rate Total Cost
Scotiabank (Canada) via Western Union C$9 +1% of the total amount Exchange rate + markup C$19 + exchange rate markup
TransferWise C$8.43 The real exchange rate - the same one you find on Google C$8.43

(Source 8 February 2018)

Scotiabank uses Western Union for most of their international transfers. And Western Union clearly states on their own website that “Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates.”

On average, banks and money transfer providers often mark up an exchange rate by 4-6% to make money on converting your currency. Which means, like Western Union already suggested, it’s a good idea to compare the exchange rate you’re offered with an online currency converter to find out how much your international transfer is really costing you.


Now that you have an idea what a transfer will really cost you, here’s everything you need to know about making an international transfer with Scotiabank.

What are the fees for an international wire transfer with Scotiabank in Canada?

Scotiabank’s rates vary depending on the specific circumstances of the transfer, and your account terms and conditions. Western Union online transactions have a fixed fee structure, but because the costs applied for bank transfers carried out in a branch can vary, they aren’t published. That means you have to visit your branch to even find out what your wire transfer will cost you.

(Source 31 January 2018)

Scotiabank international transfer fees table

Scotiabank Transaction Regular Fee
Intermediary bank fee(s) There may be additional charges added by the recipient bank or any intermediary banks who handle the transaction along the way
Incoming international transfer C$15 processing fee
Outgoing international transfer Western Union payments arranged online cost C$9 plus 1% of the total transfer amountWire transfers can be arranged through your local bank branch, but fees vary depending on the transaction details
Additional fees may apply See additional fees section

You can use the Scotiabank calculator to figure out the costs involved in your online transfer if you choose to process the transaction through Western Union. However, the small print specifies that the costs calculated are indicative only, and could change.

(Source 1, Source 2, Source 3 24 January 2018)

Scotiabank exchange rates

As well as any flat fees applied, you need to know the exchange rate that’ll be used for your transfer. Here’s how Scotiabank explains the approach to exchange rates taken by the Western Union service:

“Currency Exchange. In addition to the transfer fee, Western Union also makes money when it changes your dollars into foreign currency".

Payments will generally be in local currency (except that in certain countries payment may be in U.S. dollars or other alternate currency at participating locations). In addition to the transfer fees applicable to this transaction, a currency exchange rate will be applied. United States currency is converted to foreign currency at an exchange rate set by Western Union. Any difference between the rate given to Customers and the rate received by Western Union will be kept by Western Union (and its Agents in some cases) in addition to the transfer fees.”

In the case of a transfer using the Western Union service, it’s not Scotiabank that chooses the rates used. Western Union doesn’t publish their exchange rates but they do clarify that they make money on the exchange rate they use.

Even if you’re carrying out a transfer through a branch, it could be an intermediary bank dealing with the transfer, or the recipient’s bank, who picks the exchange rate to apply. Because you’re not their direct customer, these banks might not offer a great deal - in fact, they can mark up the exchange rate, and pocket the difference. This means that the exchange rate offered may vary quite a bit from the exchange rate offered on Google.

(Source 24 January 2018)

Additional fees from Scotiabank

International transfers with Scotiabank Additional fees
Intermediary/recipient bank fees (through bank branch) If you’re carrying out your transfer through a bank branch, it’ll usually be processed using the SWIFT system. That means that there can be as many as 3 banks involved in the process. These banks might add their own flat fees to the transaction on top of anything Scotiabank applies. Because the other banks involved decide their own fees, Scotiabank can’t tell you exactly what other charges there could be before you place your transaction.
Additional services fees (Western Union) The Western Union page holds a lot of small print explaining possible extra fees: “Additional services may change the total amount it will cost to send your money transfer.”
Agent fees (Western Union) “The transfer fees and the money Western Union (or its Agents) makes when it changes your dollars into foreign currency may vary based upon the payout currency that you select. Some Western Union Agents may offer receivers the choice to receive funds in a currency different from the one you selected. In such instances, Western Union (or its Agents) may make additional money when it changes your funds into the Receive selected country.”

(Source 24 January 2018)

A cheap and transparent alternative: TransferWise

If you need to send or receive money from abroad, you do have other options. You might save yourself a lot of money by using a specialist service like TransferWise. That’s because TransferWise offers fast, secure international money transfers, using the real exchange rate, with only a small transparent fee applied.

Another smart solution, if you have to make regular international money transfers, is to use the new TransferWise borderless multi-currency account, which lets you move your money around the world at the touch of a button. You can also hold your money in different currencies and simply convert it when you need it, using the real exchange rate, making it the perfect solution for anyone who travels regularly. If you’re a remote worker getting paid in the EU, the UK or the US but living elsewhere, a borderless account will let you get paid locally using local bank details. This cuts out international transfers altogether, meaning no intermediary banks, and no hidden fees, either.

Find out for yourself if you can get a better deal with TransferWise.

How do you make an international bank transfer (wire transfer, Western Union transfer) with Scotiabank?

Scotiabank offers international transfers online through Western Union. You can make Western Union transfers online by using their app, or using the Scotia Online service if you register your account for internet banking first. Alternatively, you can arrange an international wire transfer, but only if you call into a branch personally.

It’s important to note, though, that you can’t receive funds to your Scotiabank account via Western Union. There are more details about making international payments on the Scotiabank website.

(Source 1, Source 2 24 January 2018)

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

If you’re going to make your international money transfer through Western Union, you need to have your account registered for online banking. You then have to give some personal details about the person you’re sending money to and set a security question for them to answer before they can access the funds. You can also specify that the recipient is asked for photo ID to collect their cash, to ensure the safety of the transfer.

If you choose to make your international money transfer in a branch, your funds will go directly to the recipient’s bank account, so you’ll need some details about where your money is headed. Exactly what you have to provide will depend on where you’re sending money to, but you can expect to be asked for the following:

  • The transfer amount and currency
  • The full name, address and account number of the person you’re sending the money to, as written on the account
  • The full name and address of the bank you’re sending money to
  • The recipient’s IBAN if you’re sending to Europe
  • The SWIFT/BIC code or routing number if you’re transferring to the US

(Source 24 January 2018)

What should I give to the sender in order to receive an international bank transfer?

To receive funds into your Scotiabank account safely, you’ll need to give the sender the following:

  • Your full name and address
  • Your bank’s name and address
  • Your account number and SWIFT/BIC code

Unlike some European countries, Canadian banks don’t use the IBAN system, so it’s especially important to give the correct SWIFT/BIC code and branch address.

You should also agree with the sender, who’ll pay the charges associated with the transfer. Scotiabank will charge you C$15 to receive the funds, and you could also find that there are flat fees added by intermediary banks. This can mean you end up with much less money than you expected.

(Source 24 January 2018)

How long does an international bank transfer with Scotiabank take?

How long your transaction will take depends on where it’s headed, and how long the recipient’s bank takes to process the transfer on their end. If you’ve sent your money through Western Union, you can track its progress in your transaction history, online. That way you can see when the transaction has been cleared.

Contact / Help - More questions around your transfer?

If you need a bit more help with your transfer, you can always log into your online banking, or talk to Scotiabank directly:

  • Find your nearest Scotiabank branch to get help in person
  • Give Scotiabank a call - 1-800-472-6842

Making an international transfer shouldn’t be too much of a headache, as long as you watch out for hidden fees. However, because your regular bank isn’t necessarily the best place to go to send money abroad, it’s worth doing your research in advance so you can choose the best service for your needs. With a bit of advance planning, you can avoid or minimise the fees involved, and get the best possible deal on your overseas transfer.

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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