What is the delay for a bank transfer?

Money By Fabien Lesage June 2, 2022

Sometimes, sending or receiving a bank transfer can take longer than expected. A delay in your payments could cause you to miss an important deadline or leave your loved one waiting for longer than expected to receive their money. But what causes bank transfer delays?

In this guide, we explain what might delay your bank transfers. Understand the factors that affect a bank transfer time, so you can make smooth and fast payments that arrive as expected.


In this article


Understanding the different types of transfer

When you make an online or in-person bank transfer, they usually fall into two basic categories:

  • Occasional transfers are one-off payments. You might use an occasional transfer to pay your friend back for a concert ticket, or to chip in for a colleague’s birthday gift.
  • Periodic transfers are sent monthly, weekly or at other regular intervals. Paying rent or electricity bills are examples of periodic transfers.

 Within these categories, you can normally decide whether to transfer money immediately or schedule it in advance.

  • Scheduled transfers are payments set for a certain date. The bank will transfer money on the date requested unless the money transfer is cancelled.
  • Immediate transfers are not scheduled in advance. Some people prefer to send money transfers online or in-person at a specific time. This can ensure they have sufficient funds for the transfer.


Delay of a bank transfer: what to expect depending on the type of transfer

Several factors can impact how long your bank transfer takes. Here’s what to expect when you transfer money

Internal transfers

Internal transfers refer to money transfers within the same bank (intrabank).

This could involve moving money between:

  • Two accounts under your name – such as a savings and current account.
  • Two people who hold an account with the same bank or financial institution.

Either way, the money should transfer instantly.

External transfers

External transfers go between accounts held with different banks (interbank).

They could be two different banks within France, or overseas. Certain processing checks may slow these money transfers down. Depending on the bank, you could wait between one and three working days.

Instant transfers

Instant transfer schemes like the European Payments Council (EPC) operate on both an intra and interbank basis, domestically or internationally. They facilitate payments between accounts within 10 seconds. However, not all banks participate.

Occasional vs. periodical transfers

Occasional and periodic bank transfer times can vary depending on the bank. For an internal transfer, the money could arrive straight away. If it’s an external or international transfer, it may take longer.

Immediate vs. scheduled transfers

Similarly, immediate and scheduled transfer times will vary depending on the banks and locations where the accounts are held.

SEPA vs. international transfers

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) includes 36 countries and 529 million people. It covers all countries in the European Union, as well as the wider European Economic Area (EEA). It provides consistent rules and straightforward transfers between all participating countries.

  • Intrabank transfers within SEPA are instant.
  • Interbank transfers can take between one to three working days.
  • EEA country transfers can take of maximum of four days.

To international countries outside the SEPA zone, delays might be longer. You could wait up to five working days when converting to a different currency or bank internationally.


Specific details that affect the delay of a bank transfer

Sometimes, even an internal bank transfer can take longer than you expect. Aside from the type of money transfer, various other issues might affect how quickly your money arrives.

Bank transfers on Fridays, weekends and bank holidays

Most banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. This could delay your bank transfer by up to two or three business days.

You can often arrange a bank transfer at the weekend, but your bank might not process it until the next business day. If you arrange a bank transfer on a Saturday, for example, it won’t be processed until the following Monday (assuming Monday isn’t a bank holiday).

Similarly, if you arrange a bank transfer on a Friday evening, it may not be processed until the following Monday. This can differ from country to country, so it’s always worth checking beforehand.

Extra controls and validations

Whichever method you choose, you may find that OVF (Flow Validation Tool) checks can affect your bank transfer time. These slow down your money transfer by several days – even if you choose an instant transfer option.

If your transfer is subject to OVF checks, you should receive a message saying ‘operation subject to validation by your bank’.


Currency exchange can also delay your bank transfer. Converting currency adds an extra stage to the money transfer and might extend processing times.

Time zones

It might be 9am in Marseille, but 3am in Montreal. This means there may be no one at the receiving side to process your bank transfer. If you send money across continents, make sure you find out the business hours of your receiver’s country beforehand.

Payment errors

Sometimes, the name and account details of your receiver might not match the details your bank has on file. Your bank can then reject your payment and you may have to start the process again.


What to do when the transfer has not been completed

If your bank transfer takes more time than expected, you can try a few things to make sure it’s on the right track:

  • Double check the transfer details. It’s easy to type a wrong digit or misspell a name when making a bank transfer. When all the details are correct, your money transfer should be on its way. If you spot an error, you should contact your bank immediately.
  • Make sure you have sufficient funds. Your bank might cancel a money transfer if you don’t have enough money in your account.
  • Ask for confirmation. If you’re waiting to receive funds, speak to the sender and ask for confirmation that the bank transfer is on its way.


FAQs and guides

  • Find the code of a bank counter
  • Get a payment receipt
  • How to make a bank transfer