How long do international wire transfers take?

Australia By Sharad Sonami May 24, 2022

Article summary

There are various options for moving money from Australia to friends and family overseas. An international wire transfer can make it happen – whether you’re sending remittance, a gift or general support.

If you need to send money fast or have it arrive on a specific date, you might want to know the estimated international wire transfer time for your destination. Delays could mean your loved ones receive the money too late to pay a bill, celebrate a special occasion or get the support they need.

Learn how long an international wire transfer takes to make sure your money arrives as planned.


In this article


What is an international wire transfer and how does it work?

An international wire transfer is when money moves electronically from a bank, credit union or money transfer service in one country to a financial institution in another country via an electronic network. This is usually the SWIFT network (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).

The sender directs their bank or financial institution to make an international wire transfer for a set amount. They provide the receiver’s details and funds before the sending bank electronically transmits a message to clear them. The receiving bank then gets a message to execute the payment and the money lands in the receiver’s account.

Learn more about wire transfers.


How long does an international wire transfer take?

Generally, an international wire transfer takes between one and five days for the money to arrive in your receiver’s account. Some might take longer. Setting up an international wire transfer can be simple and take a few minutes. However, due to the process involved it may then be a few days before your receiver can access the money.

There are various factors that affect how long an international wire transfer takes, such as the transfer total, destination, currency, and time of sending.

Can you send an international wire transfer on weekends?

You can arrange an international wire transfer on a weekend in Australia, but it will not be processed until the next business day. If you set up an international wire transfer online on a Saturday for example, it will be processed on the following Monday (or Tuesday if the Monday is a bank holiday).

This is because most banks and financial institutions are closed in Australia and many other countries on the weekend. However, opening times can differ around the world, so it’s worth checking your destination country beforehand.

Does an international wire transfer happen immediately?

No, even if you set up an international wire transfer online it won’t go through immediately. Arranging an international wire transfer may be quick once you’ve supplied your receiver’s details and the funds to send. However, once the money moves from your account it can take time to move through the SWIFT network.

Processing times can delay proceedings further. This is all part of the bank’s fraud prevention efforts to make sure wire transfers are sent and received reliably.


What can delay an international wire transfer?

To ensure your money arrives as quickly as possible, it’s important to avoid things that could slow it down. Factors that can delay an international wire transfer include:

Time of transfer

Sending an international wire transfer on a weekend means it won’t be processed until the next business day. This can add on an extra day or two, depending on when you arrange it.

The time of day also affects wire transfer processing, as most banks have strict cut off times. If you organise an international wire transfer after the cut off time, it will be processed the next working day (which on a Friday might be the following Monday).

Payment errors

Spelling mistakes in the receiver’s name and address or numerical errors in their bank account, IBAN or SWIFT code can all cause delays. It could mean the wire transfer goes to the wrong receiver or is simply rejected, which means starting the process again.

Payment method

Most international wire transfers move money from your bank account to an account in another country. However, when using a money transfer service there may be other options to pay for a wire transfer – such as with a credit or debit card. This can affect how long the process takes.

Bank timeframes and methods

Different banks have their own estimated timeframes for making wire transfers. These can vary based on their fraud prevention processes, their electronic network and other stages involved to move money. Check their estimates to gauge how long it could take.

Wire transfer destination

Time zones in the destination country can affect cut off times for receiving a wire transfer from Australia, which may delay things by a day or more at the weekend. Individual countries and their banks might also have their own specific checks, which affect timeframes. Usually, you can find these out in advance.


What do you need for an international wire transfer?

Avoid delays and save time when arranging a wire transfer by being prepared. To send an international wire transfer from Australia to your receiver in any country around the world, you generally need your receiver’s:

  • Bank name (and sometimes address)
  • Account number or IBAN (International Bank Account Number)
  • SWIFT code for their bank
  • Account name

You also need the funds in your own account to cover the costs of a wire transfer (including currency exchange rates and any fees). In some cases, you might be asked the reason for the transfer and your receiver’s address, so have these ready.

The exact requirements may vary depending on the bank or money transfer service you use to make an international wire transfer.


How do I track my international wire transfer?

Depending on the bank or money service provider you use to send an international wire transfer, you should get a unique reference or tracking number. This is normally provided on a physical or email receipt when you’ve confirmed the wire transfer.

Use this to track your wire transfer. If it doesn’t arrive as expected, you should be able to use it to check where the money is. An international wire transfer can’t disappear, but it can be delayed, go to an incorrect receiver, or be reversed.

Should this happen, contact your bank or money transfer service, and quote your unique tracking number to check its status.


Alternatives to an international wire transfer

Beyond international wire transfers there are various other options to move money to your loved ones overseas:

  • Bank transfer – send money straight from your bank account to a loved one’s abroad. Learn how to do an international bank transfer.
  • Send to mobile wallet – enjoy the convenience of transferring money direct to a mobile wallet in available countries.
  • Cash pickup – sending money for cash collection is a great way to send money quickly, and especially useful for those without a bank account.
  • Transfer money to a card – in certain countries you can send money straight to a debit card for ultimate convenience.

Explore a range of different ways to send money from Australia around the world with Western Union.


FAQs and guides

How much does an international wire transfer cost?

The cost to make an international wire transfer varies depending on the bank or money transfer service you use. Some may charge a set transfer fee, while for others it can be a percentage of the total transfer amount. You also need to consider any currency conversion rates, depending on the destination.

What’s the difference between an international wire transfer and a bank transfer?

The term wire transfer is often used interchangeably with bank transfer. With both methods, money is moved via an electronic network. Generally, wire transfers are quicker but may cost more. When sending money between two accounts held with the same financial institution, a bank transfer can be cheaper and sometimes free.

Can a bank reject a wire transfer?

Yes, a bank can reject a wire transfer if there is an error or missing information in the account name, account number, IBAN or SWIFT code. This could be flagged as potential fraud or mean the receiving financial institution lacks the correct information to process the wire transfer. If this happens, you will need to start a wire transfer again.


Still searching for answers? Read more FAQs about sending money online.