According to figures from the World Bank, £19.1 billion was transferred out of the UK in 2015. India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Poland and Germany all received over £1 billion in remittances from the UK. Spain also received this figure which is understandable as it has a large British expat population. The majority of money being transferred to the UK came from Australia, South Africa, Canada, the United States, Spain and Germany.
Other countries sending large sums abroad also included the United States, the UAE and Kuwait.
Regardless of your occupation abroad, there may come a time when you need to send money back to your country of origin. This may be a one-off sum or a regular payment. No matter your reason for needing to send money overseas, you need to know the best option for you.
Why Would Expats Need to Send Money Home?
There are a number of reasons as to why expats would wish to send money overseas, these include:
- Helping family in their home country financially
- Buying or making payments on an overseas home
- Paying off outstanding amounts such as student loan or debts
- Supporting children at university abroad
- Paying your household utilities whilst away
Things to Consider
Before you start looking into your options it is best to have a clear idea of the following:
- The amount you wish to send
- Is this a one-off or regular payment?
- When does the money need to be accessible?
- How does the person want to receive it?
What Are My Options?
- Bank or building society
- Foreign exchange brokers
- Transfer firms (like Western Union)
As a rule of thumb, banks and building societies tend to be used for regular payments. Money transfer firms are very quick but can be expensive. Brokers are ideal for sending amounts over £3,000.
What is the Safest Way to Send Money Overseas?
Regardless of where you are sending your money, if it is heading overseas the best option is to liaise with a specialist foreign currency transfer company. They tend to offer much better rates than those offered by banks.
However, check with your bank first. Some premium branches allow you to transfer funds abroad or free, ideal for expat students who need a little help from mum and dad! However, talk to an advisor at your bank about exchange rates and interest charges so that you are not caught out. If you feel comfortable with your bank’s offer, they may ask you to set up an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identifier Code) to make the process easier.
For UK citizens, the average cost of an international money transfer tends to be around £40 per transaction and it can all be completed online. However, you can shop around to find the best provider for you by enquiring about transfer fee and any additional charges.
If you are not going through a bank, ensure that the money transfer firm you use is FCA regulated. The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) protects the funds of clients using companies authorised by them. Just as an extra precaution, keep hold of all your paperwork and receipts.