Frequently Asked Questions About International Wire Transfers
Are international wire transfers safe? 🔐
Yes, international wire transfers are indeed a safe and secure method to transfer money across the world. Not only do hundreds of banks transfer the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars across the world this way each day, but international wire transfers are allow made via SWIFT, a globally standardized funds transfer system that involves 11 thousand financial institutions across more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.
Are international wire transfers instant? 🚀
No, international wire transfers are not instant. The fastest an international wire transfer is delivered is typically around one working day (twenty-four hours), contingent on certain factors such as the operational relationship between the sending and beneficiary banks. In general, however, international wire transfers tend to take slightly longer still — usually around two to three working days — and can take as long as five to ten working days at the extremes.
Are international wire transfers reported to the IRS? 🏛
No, in a vast majority of cases, international wire transfers do not involve the IRS. However, US citizens are required by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) to comply with tax regulations on their foreign accounts. As a result, receiving an international wire transfer from outside of the US could potentially trigger an IRS audit. To learn more, take a look at Abajian Law's explainer post on the subject and consider hiring an international tax lawyer if you believe you're not compliant with FATCA rules.
How much are international wire transfer fees? 🧾
Transfer fees are imposed by the sending bank, and as a result, the cost of wiring money internationally varies not only from bank to bank but also from country to country. In the US, for example, banks tend to charge a single, fixed fee for international bank wires that usually falls in the range of US$25.00 to US$40.00 per transfer.
Can international wire transfer be reversed? ⏮
Yes, it is possible to reverse an international wire transfer. To get the job done, you'll need to contact your bank directly and request an amendment to the transfer. Bear in mind that these services almost always come with a fee and that reversing an international wire transfer is once possible if the money has not yet arrived in the beneficiary's bank account.
Can international wire transfer be cancelled? ⛔
Yes, an international wire transfer can generally be cancelled. To amend a funds transfer that's already been instructed, you'll need to contact your bank directly. Bear in mind that these services almost always come with a fee and that cancelling an international wire transfer is only possible if the money has not yet arrived in the beneficiary's bank account.
Can international wire transfers be done online? 💻
Yes, with most banks around the world, international wire transfer can be done online through one's online banking portal. As a rule of thumb, the option to instruct an international wire transfer can usually be found in the same place as a domestic transfer, although the particularities will differ from bank to bank.
Do international wire transfers work on weekends? 🌴
Yes and no. International money transfers can generally be instructed on the weekend without any trouble, but they will not be processed until the next working day.
Can I do an international wire transfer online with Wells Fargo? 🐎
Yes, it's certainly possible to do an international wire transfer with Wells Fargo. However, while an all-around excellent bank for everyday financial services, international bank wires with Wells Fargo can be very pricey due to the high fees and exchange rates involved. Find out more about how to minimize their hidden fees and find the best alternatives in our in-depth Wells Fargo money transfer guide.
How long does an international wire transfer take? ⏱
In general, the fastest an international wire transfer is delivered is typically around one working day (twenty-four hours), contingent on certain factors such as the operational relationship between the sending and beneficiary banks. However, international wire transfers usually take slightly longer still — usually around two to three working days — and they can take as long as five to ten working days at the extremes.
Is an international wire transfer the same as SWIFT? 🌐
Not quite, but they are very similar. An international wire transfer is a type of funds transfer that takes place via SWIFT, while SWIFT itself is a global funds transfer system that sends payment orders and facilitates their settlement — a process that allows international wire transfers to occur in the first place.
Who pays international wire transfer fees? 💵
Many (although not all) banks will allow the sender of an international wire transfer to choose who will shoulder the transaction fees. The options, known as SWIFT instructions, are generally categorised as 'SHA,' 'OUR,' and 'BEN,' which denote that the fees will shared between the sender and the beneficiary, paid in full by the sender, or paid in full by the beneficiary respectively. However, because international wire transfers open the door to correspondent bank fees (which can be as high as US$100.00 per transfer), we recommend you avoid choosing 'OUR' payments wherever possible, as these instructions can open the door to third-party banks levying further fees from you long after the transfer has been sent.
What's needed for international wire transfer? 📓
In general, you will need to provide your bank will the following pieces of information about the beneficiary of your transfer in order to successfully instruct an international wire:
- The beneficiary’s full name;
- The beneficiary's postal address;
- The beneficiary's account number;
- The beneficiary bank's branch number and full address;
- A SWIFT, BIC, or IBAN.
However, be aware the the precise information needed can differ from bank to bank, and we advise you visit your bank's website to be sure of the information you'll be needing in advance.
Why do international wire transfers take long? ⏳
International wire transfers can take a long time to arrive (as many as five to ten working days) due to several factors. Because international wire transfers are made via SWIFT, the funds need to follow a number of steps and be processed by third-party financial institutions before they can arrive at their destination. In general, this means that if either the sending or beneficiary bank are small and do not maintain large operational relationships with other banks globally, it is far more likely that your international wire transfer will take longer to arrive.