How to send money to a prisoner

United Kingdom By Western Union January 11, 2024

How to send money to a prisoner

Sending money to a prisoner in the UK can be a daunting task if you’re not sure how to do it or which channels to use – but thankfully, it’s much more straightforward than you might think. To send money to a prisoner, you’ll need to make sure they have a standard account for sending money and receiving money.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step details of how to send money to a prisoner in the UK to help support them.


Send prisoner money: A step-by-step guide

Sending money to a prisoner in the UK involves following specific procedures to ensure that the funds reach the intended recipient. Here’s a general guide on how to send money to a prisoner in the UK.

  1. Check the Prisoner’s Eligibility:

Firstly, you’ll need to confirm that the prisoner is eligible to receive money. Why? In some cases, prisoners may have restrictions or conditions regarding the sources and amounts of money they can receive.

Note that a prisoner is not allowed to handle and keep cash on them directly. Instead, they will have a private cash account with a written record of money sent in by family and friends which they can transfer to a spending account to purchase food and utilities.

  1. Identify the Correct Prison and Prisoner Details:

Once you know your loved one can receive money, you’ll need to obtain the correct details of the prison where the individual is incarcerated. This is crucial to ensure your loved one receives the funds you’re sending them. To put money in a prison account, you’ll need to keep a record of:

  • Their full name.
  • Their prisoner number.
  • Their date of birth.
  1. Understand the Approved Methods:

In the UK, the easiest and most reliable way to send prison money is by debit card. You can do this for free, and send money to a prisoner’s account using Mastercard, Maestro or Visa. As stated on GOV.UK, “You can no longer send money by bank transfer, cheque, postal order or send cash by post to any prison.”

Outside of the UK, different prisons may have specific procedures for receiving money. Typically, the approved methods include:

Postal Orders or Cheques:

If you choose to send a postal order or cheque, make it payable to the prisoner, include their full name and prison number on the payment, and send it to the address provided by the prison. It’s essential to follow any specific instructions provided by the prison regarding the format and details required on the postal order or cheque.

Electronic methods (Online Payments):

Some prisons allow friends and family to send prisoner money directly to an inmate’s account through an official prison banking system, much like the HM Prison and Probation Service website we have in the UK.

This service may only be available for certain prisons, and you will need the prisoner’s details and possibly a reference number provided by the prison.


Always check with the prison you’re sending money to if you’re unsure. If you have specific questions or concerns, contact the prison directly for guidance on the correct procedures and methods for sending money.

  1. Use the Official Channels:

To ensure your loved one receives the money in prison reliably and that your transaction is properly processed, it’s best to use only the official channels and methods provided by the prison or the relevant authorities. Never share personal or financial information with unauthorized, or unregulated third-party services or individuals.

In the US, you can send money to federal prisons with Western Union via the Western Union Send2CorrectionsSM app. In the app, we’ve developed features to help you track your transfer from your account to theirs. You can also manage multiple contacts in one place if you regularly put money in prison accounts.

You can also send money to a prisoner online from anywhere via our Send money to an inmate webpage.

  1. Understand Limitations on Amounts:

When it comes to sending money to someone in prison, a common question is: How much money can you send to a prisoner? The answer: in UK prisons, there is no limit. Note however, that it’s possible the person you are sending money to may have a limitation on how much they can spend each week.

Outside of the UK, its best to educate yourself on any limitations to prisoner cash accounts. Prisons may impose restrictions on the maximum amount a prisoner can receive within a specific timeframe.

  1. Keep Records of Transactions:

Maintain records of the transactions, including proof of payment. This documentation may be helpful in case of any inquiries or issues with the transfer. In the Western Union Send2CorrectionsSM app you automatically have a digital record of your transactions all in one place.

In summary: Sending money to someone in prison

How to send money to someone in prison depends on their whereabouts, incarceration conditions and if they have a prison account setup. It’s important to note that the process may vary between prisons, and staying informed about the guidelines of the prison where the individual is held is crucial for a smooth and reliable money transfer.

Outside of sending money to someone in prison, you can always use our mobile app to transfer money between everyday accounts. Alternatively, if your recipient isn’t incarcerated they can receive money flexibly at any of our thousands of agent locations across the country.