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How long do international bank transfers take?

If you’ve ever had to send money to somebody in a different country, you may have noticed that it did not reach them immediately.

When transferring money via mobile banking in the UK, quite often the money is transferred immediately into the recipient’s account.

For international bank transfers, though, it can be different. Continue reading to discover the typical international bank transfer time, so you can plan ahead in future.

What is an international bank transfer?

An international bank transfer is when you send money from your bank account in one country to an account in another country. It is the same thing as an international money transfer, and you can use both a bank and a money transfer company.


How to make an international bank transfer

There are four steps involved with making an international bank or money transfer, and they are:

  • Customer identity check —An identification check is a legal requirement for new customers, and this only needs to be done once. Most identity checks are done electronically now, which makes the whole process much quicker and easier.

  • Lock in an exchange rate — The bank or money transfer company you’re using will want to know the currency you have (to sell) and the currency you need (to buy). Once they do, you’ll be told of the exchange rate for the country you’re sending the money to. If you’re happy with the exchange rate offered, then the price will be locked in for you.

  • Pay the transfer in —You need to send your money in to pay for your international bank transfer. If you use a money transfer company, you are normally given 1-2 working days to send your money in, while banks will require the money to be in already.

  • Money is converted and transferred —Once your funds have arrived with your bank or money transfer company, it will be converted into the currency you need and will be sent to the destination bank account you’ve requested. You will need to provide the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) for the recipient you’re intending to transfer the money to.

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How long does an international bank transfer take?

In general, international bank transfers (which use international bank account numbers (IBAN)) will be completed within one to five working days. In most cases, international bank transfers can only be processed on working days, provided that they are requested before the cut-off time, which varies between banks.

International bank transfer times will be affected if you miss the cut-off time, as the payment will not be processed until the following working day. That means if someone was to miss the cut-off time on a Friday, it’s likely that the payment processing would be delayed until the following Monday, adding more days to the process.

Also, once the transfer has been processed with the bank or money transfer company, the funds will be removed from the sender’s account. Once out of the original account, it will still take up to five working days to be completed.


What factors can slow down international bank transfer time?

So, how long does an IBAN transfer take? Well, there are a few factors to consider that could actually delay the process. As well as missing cut-off times at banks, there are other reasons behind a potential delay in international bank transfer times.

  • Fraud prevention — International bank transfers are susceptible to fraud, so a certain level of security has to be used. Any potential checks could slow the process down.
  • Incorrect payment details — Payments can be sent back to the sender if any details are found to be incorrect. This will start the whole process again.
  • Bank holidays and weekends — Bank holidays and weekends will add further days to the processing time of payments because they’re not classed as business days.
  • Different currencies — Currency conversion in the country you’re sending money to can slow payments down.
  • Different time zones — Time zones are something to consider when sending money. It may well be midday in the UK, but banks might not be open in the country you’re sending to.


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