Mozo guides

Receiving money from overseas

International money transfers (IMT) might seem primarily managed by the sender, but whether you're an Aussie expat, a visitor in Australia or a business owner receiving payments from abroad, it's important to be informed. This guide provides key insights on what to consider when receiving funds from overseas via IMT.

How to receive money from overseas

Receiving money from international sources involves understanding various transfer methods and choosing the right service provider. Here’s how you can receive money from overseas in Australia:

PayPal

Friends, family or even business associates can make payments into your PayPal account from theirs. It’s an easy, secure way to transfer money from person to person, and fees are based on a percentage of your transfer amount. Using PayPal for international money transfers is great for small transfers, up to about $200.

Just remember, for PayPal to be a viable option, both the sender and the receiver need to have an account.

IMT through your bank account

Your sender can use either their regular bank or an IMT specialist to transfer money overseas, but remember that you’ll need to nominate a bank account to receive the funds.

The better the deal your sender gets, the more money you’ll receive, so it’s worth doing some research so you get the most bang for your buck.

International Money Transfer Specialist

Also known as FX specialists, IMT specialists are international money transfer experts that deal with international currency almost exclusively. They’re likely to be cheaper than banks and faster with their delivery. Foreign exchange providers like SendFX, TorFX and OFX offer a safe and fast online method of converting your money.

These providers tend to offer better deals when it comes to receiving or sending money abroad.

Cash pick-up

In some situations, you can request the sender to arrange a cash pick-up for you. In these cases, the sender needs to set up the transfer with a service that provides this option, specifying that the money should be collected in cash. 

They will provide you with a transaction reference number, which you must present at the designated pick-up location—typically a bank, merchant or specific store. You also need to bring valid identification that matches the details provided in the transaction to successfully collect your funds.

How long does it take to receive money from overseas?

The time it takes to receive money from abroad can vary significantly based on several factors, including the method used, the countries involved, and the specific services or banks handling the transfer. Here’s a general idea:

  • Bank transfers. These can take anywhere from 1 to 5 business days, sometimes longer, depending on the banks' processes and whether the sending and receiving banks have a direct relationship.
  • IMT specialists. Using an international money transfer specialist like Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) might expedite the process, typically taking 1 to 3 business days.
  • Online money transfer services. Companies like PayPal and Western Union can often transfer funds more quickly (albeit at a typically higher rate), sometimes within one day, or even within minutes if conditions are right.

It's a good idea to check with the service provider for the most accurate estimate based on your specific circumstances.

What details do I need to receive money from overseas?

In order to get your hands on the funds, you’ll need to give the sender a few details, including:

  • The name of your bank
  • Your BSB
  • Your account number
  • Your account name
  • The BIC/SWIFT CODE - this is an international banking code that will help identify your bank

If I receive money from overseas, is it taxable in Australia?

It all depends on the nature of the funds you’re receiving. Gifts and lottery winnings, for example, are usually tax-free. On the other hand, income from jobs, businesses or investments anywhere in the world is taxable. Keep in mind, it's not the transfer itself that incurs taxes, but rather the origin of the funds as income that determines the tax obligation.

For a clearer picture of how these rules apply, take a look at our detailed guide on the tax implications for IMT. And if you're still unsure, it's a good idea to speak with a tax professional or the ATO to get the right guidance.

What’s the best way to receive money from overseas?

When it comes to receiving money from overseas, often you're at the mercy of the sender's choices. For instance, if they choose to use PayPal, you'll need a PayPal account to receive the funds. However, if they opt for a bank or a specialist IMT provider, you have more flexibility. In such cases, you can provide them with the account details of any bank account.

If you have a say in the matter, consider guiding them to use a specialist IMT provider. They typically offer better rates, lower fees and a smoother, faster transfer process compared to traditional banks.

And if you’re planning to send money overseas, don’t forget to check out the competitive options for the AUD/USD exchange rates below. For other currency pairs, head over to our international money transfer hub where you can explore a variety of offers.

Compare IMT rates

I want to transfer
to
Today’s foreign exchange rates
Search promoted international money transfers below. Advertiser disclosure.
  • Excellent exchange rates, no transfer fees
  • 24/7 transfers online, over the phone or through the TorFX app
  • Personal account management and expert insights

$6,589 USD

  • IN PERSON
    n/a
    BY PHONE
    $0
    ONLINE
    $0
  • $0.6589 USD

  • 1-2 days

  • $200 minimum

  • Send to 200+ countries and 100+ currencies globally
  • Dedicated Australia-based client services team with personal account management for transfers over $20,000
  • 48,000+ 5-star 'Excellent' ratings on TrustPilot

$6,576 USD

  • IN PERSON
    n/a
    BY PHONE
    $0
    ONLINE
    $0
  • $0.6576 USD

  • 1-3 days

  • none

  • Fee Free transfers
  • Talk to a human, 24/7. Sharp Rates and Fast and Secure transfers.
  • Australian owned, ASX listed and Official Foreign Exchange Provider of the NHL

$6,575 USD

  • IN PERSON
    n/a
    BY PHONE
    $0
    ONLINE
    $0
  • $0.6575 USD

  • 1-2 days

  • $250 minimum
    $500 monthly minimum for regular transfers

  • Transact online 24/7 with fast settlement & extremely competitive rates.
  • Quick and easy account setup, supports multiple payment methods including debit/credit card, bank transfers and wire transfers.

$6,566 USD

  • IN PERSON
    n/a
    BY PHONE
    $0
    ONLINE
    $0
  • $0.6566 USD

  • Within minutes

  • $0 minimum

What fees are involved in receiving money from abroad?

Most fees for an international money transfer are typically covered by the sender, but you may still face some charges. For example, your bank may charge you for processing an incoming international transfer, or a currency conversion fee if your sender doesn’t convert it to AUD.

Or if your money passes through an intermediary bank, it may deduct a fee from the transfer amount. It’s wise to check with your bank about any potential fees for receiving international transfers to avoid unexpected costs.

What affects how much money I receive?

Say your mother in New Zealand is sending NZ$5,000 to you in Australia. You eagerly await the payment to come through but when it does - what’s this? Only AU$4,515 is sitting in your bank account.

Before you frantically call the bank to find out what the mistake was, you need to check a couple of details that might affect how much money you receive.

Exchange rate

The exchange rate is probably the main reason why there’s a difference between the funds that were sent and what you received. It can work in your favour (for example, transferring US dollars to Aussie dollars will mean you’ll have extra cash) or it can work against you, as in the example above.

It’s important to get the best possible exchange rate, especially if you're transferring large amounts, because even small differences can add up to hundreds of dollars.

Fees

If you’ve taken into account the exchange rate and still think the transfer amount is not right, you might have been charged a transfer fee. Your sender usually pays fees to do the IMT, but often you’ll also be hit with a charge for your bank to receive it.

Why is my international money transfer delayed?

If there is a delay in your money being transferred from overseas, there could be a number of reasons why, including:

  • Incomplete instructions. If the funds were sent in a foreign currency, the bank may not have received specific instructions about converting it for you. This could cause delays.
  • Security reasons. Especially when sending large amounts of money, there might be concerns about fraud or money laundering.
  • If the funds aren’t available from the sending bank account. This may particularly be a problem if your sender has set up regular payments, and forgot to check that the nominated bank account has a high enough balance to complete the transfer.
  • Incorrect details. If your sender has provided incorrect details for the IMT, it could cause delays, cancellation of the transfer or even, unfortunately, that the money has been sent to the wrong place.
What if the transferred money doesn’t arrive in Australia?

Although international money transfers are pretty secure these days, accidents do happen. If for some reason you still haven’t received the funds after the expected time has passed, here are some steps to take:

  1. Have your sender check the details they gave the transfer provider. The IBAN (international bank account number) means that even if they entered the wrong details the payment would likely bounce back to the sender as an error, rather than go through as a wrong transfer, but checking this should be your first step.
  2. If the details are all correct, the next thing to do is get confirmation from the sending bank or IMT provider that the transfer has been made. Your sender should have also received a confirmation number as soon as their transfer was approved, and this number can be used to track the transaction.
  3. If the money's already been sent, check with your bank to see if there are any delays on their end.

If those steps haven’t uncovered the problem, it's time to notify the IMT provider that something has gone wrong. They should be able to track the transfer and investigate what went wrong for you, just keep in mind, there may be a fee for this service. For more information, you can also read our guide on what happens if an overseas transfer isn't received.

How much money can I receive as a gift from overseas in Australia?

There aren't strict limits on how much money you can receive as a gift from overseas. However, it’s important to note that large overseas transfers can draw the attention of the ATO and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). If for whatever reason, they determine that the money is actually income, you could be on the hook for taxes. That's why it’s important to keep good records in case you’re ever questioned about the funds.

Brad Buzzard
Brad Buzzard
RG146
Senior Money Writer

With RG146 in Generic Knowledge and Super, Brad excels in simplifying complex topics and analysing consumer insights. Featured in The Australian, Mumbrella and Asia Insurance Review, his work has influenced strategies for McDonald's, Unilever and more.

Maria Gil
Maria Gil
Money writer

Maria has five years of journalism experience and is currently a finance journalist covering home loans and property, personal finance and the currency exchange market. She has also completed her ASIC RG146 (Tier 2).