3 Things You Need to Know About Receiving Money from Overseas
Receiving money in Australia from a person overseas is straightforward with an international money transfer. But how many times have you received money in your bank account that was far less, and took much longer than your sender suggested? Probably too many times.
Fortunately, there are ways you can increase the amount of money you get AND the time it takes to transfer money from overseas to your account in Australia. And it doesn't necessarily have to be through your bank.
This guide tells you everything you need to know about receiving money from overseas, including:
How to receive money from abroad
Before you receive money from your sender overseas, you should figure out:
- how will the money be sent to you?
- how much money will be sent?
- what currency?
- who will cover the costs of the money transfer?
Once you know these answers and your sender is ready to make the international payment, your sender will need certain details depending on how they're doing the transfer. There are generally 4 ways you can receive money.
We summarise how to receive your money and how long it takes using each option:
1. Bank-to-bank transfers: receiving money in your bank account
This is the most common method for receiving money in Australia and involves your sender's bank overseas to transfer the funds to your bank account in Australia. It is also referred to as a telegraphic transfer or a wire transfer. The money may go through an intermediary bank before landing in your account. Most bank transfers take about 3-5 business days.
To speed up the process, you need to give your sender the following bank details, account details and personal details including:
Your Bank details
- Bank's name
- BIC/SWIFT Code (not IBAN)
- Branch address
- BSB number
- Account number
- Account name (full name without initials)
- Your full name without initials
- Your street address (can't be a post office box)
Here is a summary of details required for Australia's major banks:
|Bank Name||SWIFT / BIC Code||Branch Address Locator|
|Commonwealth Bank of Australia||CTBAAU2S||CBA Branch|
|Westpac Bank||WPACAU2S||Westpac Branch|
|ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited||ANZBNZ22||ANZ Branch|
|National Australia Bank||NATAAU3303M||NAB Branch|
Banks have a variety of ways for you to receive money. Including a mixture of payment systems and payment types and receiving fees. That's why we've put together these detailed step-by-step guides on how to receive money in Australia for the 'Big 4' banks:
2. Online transfers: receiving money online
You may be using an online money transfer specialist like TransferWise or WorldFirst to receive money from your sender.
This is often the cheapest and fastest way to receive money, so we applaud you if this is how you're getting your money. Most of the time it's free to receive money with an online company.
It also takes just 1-3 business days for the money to arrive.
Just like banks, every money transfer provider is different. There are a variety of ways to receive money internationally and money transfer companies have a mixture of payment systems and payment types. Check out the following popular companies for detailed step-by-step guides on how to receive money in Australia from overseas:
3. Cash pick-up - receiving cash from overseas
Western Union or MoneyGram are the most popular ways to receive cash in Australia, but they are also a more expensive option. Your sender arranges for you to physically collect cash at a store, agent or third-party outlet like Australia Post or 7-Eleven. This means you need to find a store nearby to pick up the money. On the plus-side, usually the cash is available instantly.
The good thing about it is that you don't have to set up a special account to receive the money, but you still need the following information:
- Payment reference number
- Personal identification like your birth certificate, driver's licence or passport
In Australia, you have to complete a form with details about the cash transfer. The Australian government has made this mandatory to prevent money laundering.
4. PayPal - receiving money into your account
PayPal has been around for a long time and is a trusted brand. It's a very convenient way to receive money, especially for smaller transfers. However, it can be pricey. PayPal charges extra fees for you to receive the money.
What you do get is convenience and speed. It only takes 2-3 business days for the money to reach your PayPal account.
Anyone can send money to your PayPal account. Even if your sender doesn't have an account, they can pay for the transfer using a credit card or debit card. To make it cheaper, you and your sender should set up accounts. Once that's done, give your sender your email address and they can send you your money. You'll get confirmation once the money arrives in your account.
Learn more about PayPal and international money transfers.
Getting more money in Australia
We said earlier that you can get more money transferred to your Australian bank account, but first you need to know what the costs of the international transfer are and why you get charged. We've broken the costs down into two parts - foreign exchange rates and fees. We start with exchange rates, because it's usually the biggest reason why you have less money in your account than you'd expect.
Foreign exchange rates
Exchange rates apply to you if you're receiving a different currency from your sender. For example, if your parents live in England and send you some British Pounds (GBP), but you want to receive the money in Australian dollars (AUD), there may be an automatic conversion fee. In other words, if there is a need to convert currency, there may be a fee for that service.
It's important to get the best possible currency exchange rate for receiving your money. There are several ways you can manage this including:
- Take into account the exchange rate before you agree on the amount your sender will transfer to you
- Convince your sender to transfer money with a company that provides the best exchange rates and fee-free international money transfers
- Agree with your sender that they pay all the costs for the money transfer
If you've taken into account exchange rates and the amount you have in your account is less than you calculated, you've been charged a transfer fee for receiving your money. Altogether, there are 3 fees that may be charged for an international money transfer including:
- Sending bank transfer fees - your sender's bank may charge your sender for the transfer or pass this cost to your bank
- Intermediary bank (middleman) fees - some banks pass this fee on to their customers
- Receiving bank fees - banks may charge you a processing fee, which is deducted from the amount paid
Unfortunately, when you receive money from overseas the fees aren't transparent. A lot depends on your bank's relationship with your sender's money transfer provider, which you can't possibly know. There isn't much you can do to reduce receiving fees with your bank.
Here's what you can do:
- If you convince your sender to compare online money transfer providers, you might not have to pay any receiving fees and they can benefit from better exchange rates
- Alternatively, you can negotiate with your sender to pay the 'correspondent fee' so they pay all the costs for the money transfer
Best options for receiving money faster
We trust two main companies for super-fast money transfers:
TransferWise for online
The fastest-growing money transfer service, TransferWise is known for their low costs and speedy currency exchange. They’ll display the time it takes for the transfer and you can speed that up depending on how your sender pays.
WorldRemit for cash pick-up
There are 3 ways to receive cash in Australia - Western Union, MoneyGram or WorldRemit. WorldRemit is the cheapest option and their website is easy to use. They always display the expected delivery time. If you want transparency, choose WorldRemit.
How long does it take to receive money from overseas?
It takes between 1-5 business days, and even longer in some cases. Money usually lands into your account on the same day your company receives it, after it's been processed by your sender's company.
However, delays can occur making it longer for you to receive your money in Australia. Timing can depend on:
- Country where the money is being sent from - public holidays or general banking disruptions (e.g. for payments from the United States)
- How your sender transfers you money (bank transfer, online transfer, cash transfer, PayPal)
- Which money transfer company your sender uses - cash and online money transfer companies are usually faster than banks
- Foreign currency conversion - if the bank doesn't have specific instructions from you about currency conversions, it can cause delays
- Unavailable funds from the sending bank account - usually an issue if your sender sets up regular payments and there isn't enough money
- Incorrect details - this might cause delays, cancellation of the transfer, or the money might even be sent to the wrong place
- Security - if the payment doesn't meet company policies about fraud or anti money laundering, especially for larger amounts
What is a Bank Identification Code (BIC) or SWIFT code?
A SWIFT code is a series of 8 or 11 characters that identifies banks worldwide. The code is made up of letters and numbers as follows: 4 digits bank code; 2 digits country code; 2 digits location code. It's also known as a Bank Identifier Code (BIC). Major banks overseas usually require a SWIFT code to send money to Australia.
Other terms used by banks overseas include:
- IBAN (International Bank Account Number) - mainly European countries
- CHIPS UID (Clearing House Inter-Bank Payment System Universal IDentifier) – US and Canada only
- NCC (National Clearing Code)
- BSC (Bank Sort Code)
- IFSC (Indian Financial System Code)
Find out the code for your bank with a useful bank code finder.
How safe is it to receive money from overseas?
It's usually secure to receive money from overseas. Especially if you receive money with a money transfer provider or bank with the correct licences. In Australia, this is called an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). However, accidents do happen. If you haven't received your funds, you can take the following steps:
- Ask your sender to check the details for their transfer. If they entered the wrong details the payment would likely bounce back to your sender, so ask them to also check their account.
- If the details are correct, get confirmation from the sending bank that the transfer was made successfully.
- Next, check with your bank or money transfer provider to see if there are any delays on their end.
- If none of the previous steps uncover the problem, notify the original international money transfer provider. They'll track the transfer and investigate what went wrong for you. However, you might get charged for this service so be sure to triple check all of the previous steps.
If you're still worried, a useful website is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch website.
Is money transferred from overseas taxable?
It depends. If it's a gift, you don't need to pay tax. However, if it's foreign income, you will. If you’re unsure, check with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) before going ahead.
For example, after you become an Australian resident you might send money so you can receive it in your Australian bank account. Or you might be earning income from overseas sources while you're a tax resident in Australia.
It’s also important to note that Australian laws and legislation will track some transfers. AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) collects data on all cash transfers that exceed $10,000. This is to help prevent money laundering or terrorism. Here are some important details:
- If you're receiving over AUD $10,000, it's mandatory for you to fill in a declaration form for AUSTRAC
- If you're receiving money through a bank or remittance service provider you don't have to declare it to AUSTRAC
Learn more about taxes you may pay when receiving money in Australia
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