Receiving money from overseas
You might think that international money transfers are mainly handled by the person sending the money, but whether you’re an Aussie expat living abroad, a visitor calling Australia home for a while or a business owner receiving international payments, there are a few things you should keep in mind before collecting funds transferred from overseas.
In this guide, we’ll give you a general rundown of all the important things you need to know when receiving money from overseas.
What are the different ways to receive money from overseas?
Since you’re on the receiving end, the method of transferring money internationally and the choice of provider may be out of your hands. But even so, it’s useful to know a bit about the different ways of receiving money from overseas.
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. PayPal 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.
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.
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.
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.
What fees are there to receive an IMT?
Exactly what fees you’re charged to receive money from overseas depends on a few things, including:
- The currency it’s sent in. If the bank needs to convert the currency, there may be a fee for that service.
- Your bank’s relationship to the sender’s IMT provider. Your bank may pay a commission to the IMT service, and pass that cost onto you in the form of a fee.
Is there a way to avoid paying these fees?
Sort of. You can avoid paying the fees to receive money, as long as your sender agrees to pay them instead. If this is what you want to do, make sure your sender tells their international money transfer provider that they will pay the correspondent fee.
How long will it take for me to receive money from overseas?
An international money transfer can take 1-5 days to be processed, depending on where the money is being sent to and from, and the provider doing the transfer.
Once it’s processed on the sender’s end, your bank should generally be able to put the deposit into your account on the same business day they receive it.
Reasons your IMT might be delayed
If there is a delay in your money being transferred from overseas, there could be a number of reasons why, including:
- 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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Do I need to pay taxes on money received from overseas?
Paying taxes on money from international transfers can be tricky. As a general rule of thumb, think about it this way - if it’s a gift, you won’t pay tax, but if it’s income, you will.
So, for example, if your dad sends you $500 from the US for your birthday, you shouldn’t need to pay taxes on that. On the other hand, if you have an investment property in Spain and you’re receiving monthly rent payments via IMT, you’ll have to pay tax to the Aussie government, as the funds are income.
If you’re still unsure, check with the ATO before going ahead.
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
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