Mozo guides

How to repatriate funds back to Australia from overseas

You’ve been living overseas and the time has come for you to move back to Australia. The flight is booked, the movers organised, and now it’s time to figure out the best way to bring your money back to Oz. Regardless of whether you’ll need to transfer $1000 or $100,000, this guide will outline how to get your money repatriated in the safest and most cost effective way possible.

For most of us, moving money across borders isn’t an everyday activity so it can be daunting, particularly if you are transferring a large amount of money online. The unpredictable nature of foreign exchange also means that there is always a level of uncertainty on when’s the best time to complete your transfer.

But the good news is that international money transfers have come along way in the past few years thanks to online banking technology, so exchange rates that were once only available to corporates and high end trades are now available to everyone through online foreign exchange or International Money Transfer providers. You can still choose to use a bank for international money transfers but generally the rates will be higher and the fees lower when you go with an online FX provider.

Here’s what you’ll need to know about using an international money transfer (IMT) service to repatriate your funds:

  • Bank account to bank account transfers. The IMT providers we compare here at Mozo do not deal in cash or cheque money transfers. You’ll only be able to transfer your funds direct to a bank account.  
  • Exchange rates. The more competitive the exchange rate, the more money for you, it’s that simple. Many providers have online rate alerts that can help you to carefully watch currency movements. And with many online platforms allowing transfers 24/7 you can be sure that you can time your transfer to your advantage.    
  • Transfer limits. Some international money transfer providers will have maximum limits for how much you’ll be able to transfer at any one time. There are also different limits for online and over the phone transfers.
  • Spot transfers or forward contracts. Most money transfer specialists will offer spot rate transfers. This is where you’ll book and transfer funds at the ‘on the spot’ exchange rate, the rate which that currency is being traded at that particular time. A forward contract is a product offered by some FX providers that allows you to lock in today’s rate but you don’t transfer the funds until a time in the future.
  • Transfer speed. If you’re repatriating funds back to Australia from a common currency such as USD, EURO, or GBP some providers offer a same day transfer but in general you should allow between 3 - 5 business days for the funds to be transferred and in your account available for use.
  • Fees. The fee that you will pay to make a transfer via an IMT provider will depend on whether you’re making the transfer online or over the phone. It’s generally cheaper to do an online transfer. You could be charged a separate fee by the bank to receive funds into your account. These will generally be deducted from the amount paid.  
  • Security. Providers listed on our site are regulated by ASIC in Australia. IMT providers have the same security protocols as the banks and transact billions of dollars annually worldwide.

Repatriation of Funds Cheat Sheet

Here’s a look at the three most popular options for transferring funds back to Australia from overseas to help you work out which money option might be best for you.

Product What is it? Good for
Spot Rate Transfer Lock in the current market rate and transfer your money on the spot - One off transfers
- Time dependent transactions

Forward Contract Think of this as a buy now, transfer later. Allows you to lock in an exchange rate now to protect you against exchange rate movements. - Managing cash flow
- Larger transactions where you’ll want to ensure you’ve got the exact amount of funds available for a particular transaction like buying a house or car
Limit Order Set your target exchange rate. The transaction is completed automatically when the rate reaches your target rate. - Non time dependent transfers
- Only exchanging funds when the exchange rate is in your favour

How to set up a transfer

Here’s the basic steps if you’re making a spot rate transfer to repatriate your funds. For other types of transfers, it is recommended you speak directly with the IMT provider to discuss procedures.

Step 1: Compare rates and providers

This is probably one of the easiest steps, as our IMT comparison tool allows you to see at a snapshot the current rates of major international money transfer providers and banks so that at a glance you can see the rates, minimum and maximum transfer options you’ve got for the currency you want to exchange into AUD.

Step 2: Set up an account with an IMT provider

Prior to being able to conduct an IMT you’ll need to have an account set up with the international money transfer provider. It is a good idea to do this well in advance of when it is that you want to make your transfer, as it can take up to a few days to get an account set up and your identity verified.

Step 3: Book rate and transfer funds to your IMT account

Once your account is set up, you’ll next need to lock in your transfer rate, enter the recipient details (e.g your bank account details back home) for the transfer and then transfer the required funds to your IMT provider account.

Step 4: Transfer is complete

As soon as your IMT provider has received your funds, they will make the transfer to the recipient’s bank account on your behalf. You’ll receive a confirmation when the transfer has been completed.

Mozo Editorial
Mozo Editorial

Mozo’s team of experienced journalists and money experts provide news, insights, practical guides and expert analysis to help you master your personal finances. We follow editorial guidelines that focus on accuracy, reliability and timeliness; helping you make informed financial decisions with confidence and the most of your hard-earned money.