What are International Bank Wire Transfers?
Learn about making international bank wire transfers to pay overseas freelancers, vendors, and suppliers.
There are many ways to pay international invoices and the most common method is through bank wire transfers. This service is offered by almost every bank or credit union and lets you send money from your bank account to a recipient’s bank account elsewhere in the world.
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Fees for International Bank Wire Transfers
Check with your bank to find out what the rates are for each wire transfer and how they determine the foreign exchange rate. Find out what exchange rate your bank offers and compare it to the rate you find on Google — you may find that your bank is marking up the exchange rate by 5% – 6%.
Most banks typically charge between $30 – $50 (or up to $75) for each international wire transfer, but you may be able to get a better rate if you have a longstanding relationship with your bank (and a large deposit held at that bank). Note that the bank of your overseas vendor, supplier, or freelancer may charge additional fees for the incoming wire transfer, so you will want to think about whether to reimburse those costs.
How to initiate an international bank wire transfer
You should be able to initiate an international wire transfer through your online banking services, by entering the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and details of the vendor, supplier, or freelancer who will receive the funds, and then paying for your transfer. Your bank takes care of processing the transfer and routes it to the recipient who receives the funds in their account. Typically, an international wire transfer will arrive at the destination bank between 2 and 5 business days after it is sent.
If you are unable to initiate a bank wire transfer online, you may be able to initiate it in person at a bank branch or over the phone by calling your bank.
International wire transfers are normally made using an international standard known as SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions. SWIFT allows money to travel between banks on the SWIFT network. It gives every bank a unique identifier that you can use to ensure your transfer gets to the intended recipient. If you are paying your overseas freelancers, vendors, or suppliers you will need to have the SWIFT code for the recipient bank as well as the recipient’s bank account number.
Are international wire transfers safe?
International wire transfers are very safe, assuming you have provided the correct recipient details and you’re using established banks. Always double-check (or even triple check) those details and your money should arrive safely at its destination.
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Updated: September 10, 2020
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax advice or legal advice or payroll advice. Since tax rules and laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a CPA / tax advisor and/or attorney for specific guidance.