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Ultimate Guide: International Wire Transfer for Business Payments 

Sending or receiving money internationally? You already know international wire transfer is the easiest way to go about doing the same.  

It's fast, complies with regulations, and comes with affordable rates. 

For both personal and business needs, international wire transfers are a trustworthy choice. But how exactly do they work, and how can you optimize their use to save on currency conversion rates?

Read on…

What is an International Wire Transfer?

An international wire transfer is a financial service provided by banks, facilitating the electronic transfer of funds from one bank account to another located in a different country. The standard processing time for such transfers usually ranges from 1 to 2 business days.

Documents needed for an International Wire Transfer

When you're sending money through a wire transfer, you usually need to provide:

  • Recipient's Full Name and Address: The complete name and location of the person or business getting the money.
  • Transfer Amount: The exact sum of money you're sending.
  • Recipient's Bank Details: The name and address of the recipient's bank, their account number, account type, and bank routing number.
  • SWIFT or BIC Code: If the recipient's bank is in another country, you might need this special code.
  • Reason for the Transfer: A brief explanation of why you're sending the money, like for a purchase or family support.

How does an International Wire Transfer work? 

Back in the day, banks used telegraph wires to send money, and that's how the term "wire transfer" came about. In contemporary times, the most common method for conducting international wire transfers involves utilizing the SWIFT network. 

This can be likened to a vast messaging system that links over 12,000 banks across more than 220 countries. It's like banks talking to each other, passing along information, and making sure the money gets where it needs to go.

Let's imagine someone in the US wants to send money to India. They go to their bank (let's call it Bank A) and provide the details of the person in India who will receive the money (let's call it Bank B). Bank A then sends instructions to Bank B, including information like the recipient's name, account number, and how much money to send. It's like a set of rules for the banks to follow.

Here's the catch: the instructions might not go directly from Bank A to Bank B. There could be another bank in the middle, which we'll call the "middleman" bank. But, remember, no actual money is being moved physically; it's more like a digital process.

International wire transfers are often used for sending money internationally. If it's within the same country, it usually takes a day. But if it's between countries, it can take up to five days or even more.

Now, if you want to send money through an international wire transfer, you'd need to tell your bank the details of the person getting the money and how much you want to send. Most times, you can do this online, but sometimes you might have to fill out a form. If you're the one receiving money through an international wire transfer, you'll need to share your bank details with the person sending you the money.

Make Note: International wire transfers come with costs. While the charges from your bank may not be much, the middleman bank might charge a fee. There's also a fee for converting the money into a different currency, and on top of that, there's a tax, which is a percentage of the total amount you're transferring. This tax can vary, ranging from 1% to 0.1% of the total amount you're sending.

Potential Pitfalls in International Wire Transfer

In India, if someone is using a wire transfer service to send money internationally, the process is typically subject to regulatory oversight by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Here's an example:

Let's say a person in India wants to send a significant amount of money to a relative living abroad. They visit their bank or use an authorized international wire transfer service. 

In the process:

  • Identity verification: Initiators of international wire transfers must provide identification and recipient details, including the recipient's name, bank account information, and the purpose of the transfer.
  • Compliance: The international wire transfer service, following RBI regulations, ensures adherence to anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) guidelines. This involves validating the transaction's legitimacy and confirming its absence from illicit activities.
  • Monitoring by Authorities: Regulatory bodies like the RBI monitor international wire transfers to prevent illegal activities such as funding terrorism or money laundering. The international wire transfer service may report specific transaction details to these authorities for scrutiny.
  • Possible Freezing of Funds: In case of suspicions or red flags, regulatory authorities have the power to intervene. They may instruct the bank to temporarily freeze the funds while investigating the nature of the transfer.

International wire transfers can be over-regulated for reasons, such as:

  • Big sums sent through cash-centric businesses.
  • Transfers to safe-haven countries  Common safe-haven countries include those with strong and stable economies, transparent financial systems, and low levels of political risk. Examples often include countries with established currencies like the Japanese yen or US dollar, and Swiss franc.
  • Non-account holders transactions -It's like sending money to someone who doesn't have a regular bank account with that specific bank. Instead of using the usual way where money goes from one bank account to another, they use different methods. This could be things like international wire transfers, third-party services that handle payments, or using mobile money services.
  • No appropriate reason provided for the transaction. 

Make Note: Once you've filled in the transfer form, the website will give you an idea of how long it might take. Your bank or neobank will keep you updated through their online portal. Usually, it takes 1-3 business days, but it can vary. Keep in mind, if the other bank is in a different time zone, or if the money passes through a few banks (3-5), it might affect the international wire transfer time

Things to keep in mind for an International Wire Transfer 

If you're sending money internationally, here are five technical tips to ensure a smooth transaction:

  • Double-check Transaction Details: Ensure all transaction details, including the payee's bank routing information and IBAN number, are accurate to prevent errors.

  • Stay Informed on ACH Rules: Keep abreast of the constantly evolving global ACH rules and regulations to maintain compliance and avoid any complications.

  • Enable Payee Account Management: Allow the payee to actively manage their account information, ensuring it stays up-to-date for precision in transactions.

  • Optimize Payee Onboarding: Implement an efficient payee onboarding process to streamline transactions, reduce delays, and enhance overall operational efficiency.

Make Note: When you send money internationally, non-bank services handle the transaction, while international wire transfers go directly between banks using the SWIFT payment system. International money transfer fees are usually lower than international wire transfer fees.

Factors to consider for International Wire Transfer

  1. Overhead Charges: Various charges may apply, including conversion taxes, service taxes, and transfer fees. 
  2. Transfer Speed: Electronic transfers typically take 48 to 72 hours, providing a relatively quick process. If you opt for traditional methods like cheques or demand drafts, be prepared for a longer processing time, extending up to a week or more.
  3. Methods of Payment: Familiarize yourself with various payment options, including bank transfers, international wire transfers, and online payment platforms. Opt for a method that suits you the best.
  4. Compliance: Ensure you possess all necessary documentation, including identification and transaction details, to comply with regulatory requirements. Be mindful of any restrictions or limitations imposed by both the sending and receiving countries.
  5. Security: Prioritize secure channels and reputable service providers to protect your financial transactions. Consider utilizing platforms with encryption and authentication measures for enhanced security.
  6. Customer Care: Choose a service provider with dependable customer support to address any queries or concerns during the transfer process. Check reviews and testimonials to assess the provider's responsiveness and service quality.
  7. Information: Double-check and accurately provide the recipient's details, including their bank account information, to prevent any delays or issues.

Bottom Line

International wire transfers are the simplest and easiest option for business or personal foreign remittances. 


The charges are transparent. The timeline is short and there are no hidden or additional costs during the payment process. 

Lastly, it is one of the safest most compliant ways to make cross-border payments

Ultimately it boils down to choosing the best service provider to gain the best deals on forex margins. 

Karbon Forex offers flexible FX margin rates for all business international wire transfers. Reach out to us to learn more!

The views expressed in the blogs on this page are solely the opinions of the authors and do not constitute expert advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. We disclaim any liability for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

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