What is the normal international transfer time?

Germany By Francesca Gerardis May 25, 2022

Overseas transfers are often about sending more than just money – from financial support and remittances to gifts and surprises. Whatever the reason, they can be very time-sensitive. As a result, knowing delivery timeframes can bring peace of mind.

International money transfer times can vary based on sending and receiving methods, destination countries and accounts, holidays, and opening hours.

They can depend on the type of money transfer too. For example, a SEPA money transfer is mainly for senders and receivers in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA), allowing for the quick transfer of euros.

Moving funds to loved ones is easier when you know your money transfer options. Here’s everything you need to remember about the duration of different types of international money transfer.


In this article


How long to transfer to countries in the EEA (SEPA transfer)?

Moving your money is important. That’s why European legislation says that, if the money transfer is initiated early enough, online SEPA payments made within Europe and the EEA should only take one working day to reach the receiver.

There are exceptions, however:

  • In-person money transfers initiated in Europe and within the EEA may take up to two working days.
  • Money transfers not in Europe but within the EEA could take up to four working days online, or five in person.
  • Holidays and weekends are not classified as bank working days, so payments will not be processed.


How long to transfer to countries outside the EEA (SWIFT transfer)?

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) transfers allow for international money transfers beyond the EU and EEA. Unlike SEPA money transfers, these can vary in timescale, due to factors such as the:

  • Destination bank
  • Country of receiving bank account
  • Transfer amount
  • Compliance checks
  • Intermediary banks
  • Issuing bank
  • Currency exchange

The reasons why international money transfer times vary so much is due to the lack of a fixed, central regulatory body. Generally, money transfers within Europe or the same currency could be completed within one working day. For other currencies, or countries outside of Europe, they could take up to 14 working days.

These money transfer times are in addition to other considerations, like holidays and weekends.


Ensuring your money transfer is quick and successful

The duration of an international money transfer may be quicker if you follow a few simple checks beforehand.

Consider your bank’s money transfer deadline

Money transfer deadlines may not correlate with your bank’s opening times. Try to do some research and complete your money transfer before the allotted time. Each banking institution will have its own deadlines and practices.


Learn how much money can be transferred

SEPA money transfers have essentially no upper limit, meaning you can move any sum quickly between participating countries. The maximum limit for international money transfers can vary, but for most banks is around 100,000 EUR. Additionally, if you are transferring more than 12,500 EUR, you have an obligation to declare your money transfer to the Deutsche Bundesbank.


Consider making the money transfer online

Money transfers initiated online can move faster than those completed in person at a bank or via a paper form. Generally, they’re less time-consuming for you too. They also require less manual work.


Ensure details are correct

International money transfer times can increase if you provide incorrect details. In some instances, your money transfer could fail, and you will have to put in another request. That could move you outside of a bank’s money transfer deadline. Incorrect details could also send funds to the wrong account. Ensuring all information is correct is essential.


What can slow down an international money transfer?

There are some factors that could increase the duration of your international money transfer. The most common issues that slow down the process include:

  • Money transfers initiated around weekends and on bank or national holidays. This could affect you even if you make it before closing time to your bank that week.
  • If you do not declare payments of over 12,500 EUR to the Deutsche Bundesbank (unless exempt). This can result in fines if not reported.
  • Initiating a money transfer after the bank’s international deadline. This will move your money transfer to the next working day.
  • Providing the wrong banking details – this could be either the receiver’s or the sender’s.
  • For SWIFT money transfers, the use of an intermediary bank can slow down the process. In some instances, multiple intermediary banks could be required.


Is there a quicker way to transfer money?

Instant Payments are an option between certain SEPA countries, and usually free of charge when carried out online.

There are restrictions, however. Both the sender and receiver must have a bank account situated in the EEA. There are many variables, including your specific bank and where you’re sending your money. Charges can also vary, so it’s best to check with your bank.

Additionally, costs could be incurred if you make any errors with the money transfer process.


FAQs and guides

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