How to transfer money to a foreign bank account

United Kingdom By Steve Wong April 27, 2022

Simple ways to send money to an international bank account

Transferring money to a foreign bank account can make a loved one’s day, whether it provides essential support or is simply a nice surprise. An overseas bank account transfer can help them pay their mortgage, deal with an urgent bill or even be used as a birthday gift.

Whatever the purpose, remittances to overseas countries remain popular, with the World Bank predicting those to low and middle-income nations will climb by 2.2% in 2022, hitting $565 billion.

Read on to discover what an international money transfer involves, along with the potential costs and key information you’ll need to remember. Learn how to transfer money to an international bank account with Western Union, and why it’s so important to use a reliable service like ours to get it right.


In this article

What is an international money transfer?

An international money transfer can offer a financial lifeline to your loved ones overseas, giving them a vital cash injection at just the right time.

In a nutshell, it’s simply a way of sending money from where you live in the UK to a friend or relative in a different country. The transfer can be made to a foreign bank account or potentially for cash pickup at a physical location. International money transfers can also be made to accounts you hold abroad.

India, China, Mexico, the Philippines and Egypt were the top five countries to attract remittances in 2021. However, you can send money to virtually any country.


Sending to a bank account

There are many ways to send money to an international bank account, including through your bank or a specialist service like Western Union. Your money is converted from pounds to another currency, so it’s important to compare exchange rates and transfer fees[1].

It can take a few days for an international bank account transfer to be completed, with the destination country and sending method likely to have an influence.

[1] Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates. Fees, foreign exchange rates and taxes may vary by brand, channel, and location based on a number of factors. Fees and rates subject to change without notice. 


What do you need to transfer money to a foreign bank account?

From ID to your loved one’s details, you’ll need to gather a few bits and pieces before transferring money to a foreign bank account with Western Union:

  • An online profile to send funds via our website or app.
  • Some valid identification to verify your profile. This could include a passport or driver’s licence.
  • Details of the receiving account, including the full name of the holder as it appears on their official ID. An account number, bank identifier code and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) may also be needed depending on the country you are sending money
  • Any country-specific information, for example a purpose for the transfer and source of funds proof.

A method of payment, such as your UK bank account or credit2/debit card.

2 Some card issuers may charge additional fees for using our services. Please contact your card issuer for more information. 


How to transfer money to an international bank account

The idea of transferring money to an international bank account may seem daunting, especially if your loved ones live in a far-flung country on the other side of the world. The good news is that completing an international transfer needn’t be difficult with Western Union.


Discover how to send money to a foreign bank account with these simple steps:

1. Register online for free

Any online money transfer starts with your Western Union profile. It’s fast and free to set one up – simply register and verify your details, then log in.

2. Choose your destination

With more than 200 countries and territories served, you have plenty of options. Head to our send money page online, type in the destination of the receiving bank account, plus the amount to be transferred.

3. Select a payment method

Choose to send money via a bank transfer, Klarna or with your card. Make sure ‘Bank account’ is selected as the receiving method.

4. Tell us about your receiver

Type in any details we request about your receiver and their overseas bank account. This could include the account number and bank name.

5. Confirm your international money transfer

Review all the information and confirm your payment to officially send your money to an international bank account.

6. Look out for a tracking number

Head to your inbox for a confirmation email containing a unique tracking number (MTCN). This lets you track your money as it leaves the UK.


How to send money to an international bank account regularly

It’s easy to make regular or repeat transfers to a foreign bank account using the Western Union® app and website.

Save yourself time and effort by choosing to store key information about overseas bank accounts in your online profile. You can then select a receiver’s name from your saved list for future money transfers, so you don’t have to enter all their data again.


This is particularly useful when you’re regularly transferring money to a foreign bank account as a remittance. That’s because you’ll only have to tap in the details of family members you’re supporting back home once.


How to send large amounts of money overseas

From time to time, you may need to send a particularly large amount of money to a foreign country – whether it’s to support a loved one or simply part of your own financial arrangements.

For example, you may wish to:

  • Buy a property in another country.
  • Make mortgage payments on an existing home.
  • Put a deposit down for an overseas wedding.
  • Help loved ones with significant bills or student fees.

Whatever the reason, your chosen payment method and destination usually influence the maximum amount you can transfer.

It’s often possible to send up to £50,000 online from your bank account to an account in another territory, making this the most convenient way to transfer large amounts. However, limits are lower for certain countries and when using different payment methods.

To send a large sum abroad, start with our price estimator tool. This shows you the specific transfer limit for each country and payment method.


How much does it cost to send money internationally?

It’s always important to do your maths before setting up an international money transfer. A range of costs need to be factored in to ensure you don’t overstretch your finances.

Ultimately, the cost to send money internationally is unique to each transfer. The destination country, transfer fees1 and exchange rates can all be major influences, along with the payment and receiving methods.

Think about the following each time you send money to a foreign country:

  • Transfer fees1 – these are charges paid to a money transfer service or bank to send your funds.
  • Exchange rates – these determine the amount your receiver will get in their home currency.
  • Sending and receiving methods – bank transfers, cards and in-person cash payments can all carry different transfer fees1. It’s also important to check if charges apply to your chosen receiving method – whether it’s a bank account, cash collection or mobile wallet3.

3 Additional charges, including SMS and account cash-out fees, may be applied to the receiver’s mobile wallet account by the mobile network operator and/or wallet service provider. 


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