How to Transfer Large Amounts of Money Internationally

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April 9, 2024
11 min read
When transferring large sums of money internationally, the stakes are naturally higher.

Put simply, there’s more at risk. 

It’s important to proceed with caution, evaluate all your options, and use the correct discernment to identify the best solution for your needs.

You’ll want to ensure your money is safe, you aren’t paying any unnecessary fees (or, worse, getting completely ripped off), and the process is stress-free.

On top of this, there are other important factors to consider like tax implications, regulatory hurdles and transfer limits.

In this guide,will first work through each of these important considerations (as they apply no matter how you send money) and then I'll run you through the different options available to send large sums abroad.

If you're interested in understanding what makes the top currency brokers the most suitable option for larger payments, jump straight to the end.

What are large sums?

A large international money transfer is quite an abstract term, which is relative to one’s standards and means.

For one person, £1000 could constitute a significant transfer, while for another, a million pounds may be nothing more than a routine transfer.

This guide will focus on transfers of £10,000 and up. 

Below that number, you can use a money transfer app, which should be cheap and easy enough.

Above that amount, it’s more important to have a dedicated account manager to guide you through the process.

Although it may be only temporary, being separated from a substantial amount of money will naturally bring about more anxiety.

What are your options?

There are three main ways to send money overseas.

I’m not including card transactions via a payment gateway, because they depend on whether the other party is a business and whether they can accept them. 

Nor am I including mobile top-ups, which are the most popular payment method in some countries, as there are limits preventing you from sending large sums. 

These are the main options you have at your disposal: 


Whichever way you look at it, sending cash is a risky option. 

Plus, there are likely to be restrictions on how much cash you can send in the post anyway. 

For example, you must declare to customs when you are sending or receiving over £10,000 in cash from the UK. 

If customs have any suspicion the cash is for illegal purposes or you have not declared it, border force can seize the cash.

Even forgetting customs, it’s a bit risky to send such large amounts in the post anyway. 

You’d want it to be tracked and have the relevant insurance policies in place should something go wrong, which may not even be possible. 

Carrying cash with you is perhaps even riskier. The same customs rules apply, and you introduce a host of other risks.

Another option to transfer cash involves using a remittance company like WorldRemit

This is a much more secure route and involves the beneficiary collecting the cash at an authorised agency partner of the remittance company you use to send money.

All the recipient needs is a photo ID to prove they are the intended beneficiary.

You can even initiate the transfer online, stating who the beneficiary is and where they will be collecting the cash.

The primary issue is on the transfer limits of remittance companies. They’re capped at around £5000, if even that, so large currency transfers simply aren’t possible.

It’s also a very costly method, as remittance companies will apply a wide exchange rate markup that could see you lose 2-4% of the transfer value when received in cash.

A plane taking off.
Transferring large sums of cash on a plane is ill-recommended


Like cash, the same sort of risks apply to posting a cheque.

However, you don’t have to declare a cheque to UK customs, provided it’s already made out to a person or organisation. 

Cheques that are signed but not made out to anyone do still need to be declared.

Still, they remain far from ideal.

Many banks, like Barclays for example, have even closed their international cheque services for standard personal customers. 

Then there are the operational and financial issues of paying by international cheque.

Depending on the journey, it can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to actually receive an international bank cheque in the post, and then it can take an extra 4-8 weeks until the cheque is cleared and ready to credit the account.

Banks may ‘negotiate’ the cheque and credit it early but there is usually a substantial fee for this. 

What’s more, the exchange rate markup is usually somewhere between 4-8%. It costs an arm and a leg.


International payments are now mostly electronic, making them quicker, more convenient and more secure than cheques and cash.

If I had a requirement to send a large amount overseas, this is how I’d go about it.

Even if you initiate the transfer in-branch or over the phone, the funds are moved electronically, via a combination of local and international payment networks.

Depending on its destination, your payment will likely be routed via the SEPA network (EUR transfers) or SWIFT network (transfers to the rest of the world).

Digital transfers are incredibly safe (the biggest chance of something going wrong is if you key in the wrong details yourself) and they’re also the cheapest route, providing you select the right company to handle your transfer.

Too many people are still using their bank for large international transfers. Not only are they the most expensive, but they provide the worst service too.

There are a few ways you can transfer money electronically abroad:

  • Your bank
  • Remittance companies
  • Money transfer apps
  • Currency brokers

Which of these is best for large transfers?

As I’ve already hinted, the best way to send large sums abroad is through a bank transfer.

It is the safest, cheapest and most convenient way to go about it.

However, a bank transfer using your bank does have some downsides.

Dealing with your bank can be an unpleasant experience, and you may not find the answers you're looking for.

Tracking the transfer can also be inadequate - a stressful situation when dealing with a significant amount of money.

Perhaps most notably, the cost of an international money transfer with a bank is very high.

That leaves you with two good options. 

One option is a money transfer app (for online transfers only).

The other is a currency broker, offering either online transfers or the option to speak with  a dedicated expert, assigned to you as a single point of contact.

These dedicated account managers can be contacted by email or phone, will know you on a personal level, and guide you through every step of the process.

Such a broker is normally assigned for transfers of £5000 or more, though this varies between companies. Xe, for instance, only assigns one for transfers above £50,000.

For me, if I qualify for an account manager, I would always choose a broker.

To get my actual recommendations and learn what kind of savings you can achieve, use TopMoneyCompare’s rate comparison.

Just click here to view our comparison:

Things to consider when choosing your provider

The larger the transfer, the more critical it is that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

With that said, here are the three major questions you need to answer when selecting a provider.

How much does it cost?

There are two types of costs involved when making an international transfer:

  1. Transfer fees
  2. Exchange rates

Transfer fees are usually charged as a flat fee, per transfer.

However, some providers may charge a % of the volume.

Currency brokers don’t charge a fee for large transfers.

The most important cost for you is in the exchange rate.

Some companies provide better rates than others.

At any one time, there is a central rate of exchange for each currency pair.

This is called the interbank rate.

You will never receive the interbank rate for your transfer.

Instead, specialist money transfer companies will offer you roughly between 0.2% and 2% under that rate.

I recommend getting a rate from each provider at the same time to compare them.

This way, you know you’re getting the best possible rate out there.

How safe am I?

I would say that the safety of you and your funds is the most important thing to consider.

Fortunately, it’s really easy to distinguish between the safe and the unsafe.

When considering a provider, look to see if they’re financially regulated.

Usually, they’ll be regulated in their home country and if you’re lucky, other countries too.

If you look towards the bottom of their website, there should be a bit of writing outlining their regulation.

Key Currency regulation snippet.
Always make sure that the company is regulated

As you can see, Key Currency is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.

But what does this mean for you?

It means that the company’s operations are constantly reviewed, audited and scrutinised to maximise client safety.

The FCA doesn’t just hand out regulations willy-nilly.

To become regulated, you have to show that you were already cautious, safe and reliable.

Over a long period of time, too.

If a company is regulated, you’re in safe hands.

I would avoid any company that isn’t.

To make it easy for you, all companies reviewed on are FCA regulated.

How fast is the transfer?

Let’s say that you’re buying a house abroad.

Completion day is tomorrow, and you’ve left it a little late to transfer the funds.

You need to make the transfer ASAP.

This is one scenario where transfer speed is essential.

However, if there’s no rush then obviously this bit isn’t too important.

For common currencies like GBP, EUR or USD, most companies can do a same-day transfer.

Currencies like AUD and NZD, however, are ‘next-day currencies’ due to the time zone difference.

Before signing up, just ask about transfer times and how long it will take for you to receive your money.

What is the maximum amount of money I can transfer overseas?

There isn’t a set maximum amount.

In theory, you could transfer billions if you wanted.

However, there are some ways you may be limited:

  • Government specific restrictions
  • Bank limits
  • Company limits

As I’ve already touched on, your government / financial body (HMRC, IRS etc.) might ask questions about large transfers.

If you’re worried, I’d just ask them and be upfront.

With your bank, they might impose a sending limit, for example £25k per day.

You can usually overcome this by visiting your local branch.

As for company limits, there usually aren’t any when you use a currency broker.

The larger your transfer, the more money they make.

Tax implications of transferring large sums abroad

Whether you need to pay tax when transferring large sums abroad depends on several factors.

These include the amount transferred, the source of the funds, your residency status, and any tax agreements that exist between the two countries involved in the transfer.

Generally, if you’re transferring savings, you shouldn’t have to pay tax.

If you’re transferring a salary overseas, you may be required to pay tax, or at least declare the amount you’re transferring to the relevant authorities.

Overseas income could be from investments, rental yield or a salary.

The UK government provides advice regarding tax on foreign income and how to calculate your residency status.

The IRS provides similar guidance for the USA.

If you’re transferring money to another country, be sure to understand the guidance directly from the relevant governmental organisation.

If you’re unsure, speak to a tax expert.

Adhering to the relevant regulations

Some countries have specific rules on the amount you can send, the frequency of transfers, or the need to report these transactions. 

It's important to check the regulations for both the country you're sending money from and the country you're sending it to.

For example, if you can prove your funds are legitimate, there's no cap on how much money you can transfer out of South Africa as a non-resident. 

But, if the amount is over the Foreign Capital Allowance of R10 million, you'll need approval from the South African Reserve Bank first.

Or, when you’re transferring money to the EU, you must provide the relevant details that meet the EU money laundering regulations.

As the payer you’ll need to provide your:

  • Name
  • Full postal address, including postcode
  • Account number or a unique identifier which allows the transaction to be traced back to you

For the payee you’ll need to include their:

  • Name
  • Account number or a unique identifier which allows the transaction to be traced back to them

If you need any further clarification, speak to your money transfer company, or bank. They’ll know exactly what you need to provide.

Transfer limits on how much you can take out of a country

Several countries enforce restrictions or limitations on the export of their national currency. 

Not ideal, when you’re looking to make a large money transfer.

These measures are typically adopted to regulate currency exchange rates, prevent sudden outflows, and address economic issues.

It is crucial to recognise that currency regulations are subject to change, hence consulting up-to-date official sources for the most current and accurate information is recommended. 

Below are three examples of countries with notable restrictions on currency exportation:

1. China: For residents of mainland China, there’s an annual limit of USD $50,000 for transferring money out of the mainland. 

For foreigners employed in China, the ceiling on transfers is contingent upon the amount of legal, taxable income they have earned within the country.

Businesses must also comply with specified limits on the amount of RMB that can be taken out of China, and larger amounts require approval from the relevant authorities.

2. India: Under the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme, Indian residents are allowed to send up to $250,000 (or its currency equivalent) in a financial year, and authorisation is required for larger amounts.

3. Argentina: In response to economic challenges, Argentina has instituted capital controls and restrictions on the movement of its currency, the Argentine Peso (ARS), to safeguard its foreign exchange reserves and stabilise the economy. 

Limits change quite frequently and vary depending on whether you’re an individual or a business. SMEs with foreign currency debts have recently been allowed to send more ARS from the country.

Beyond these examples, there are many more countries that impose restrictions on the amount of money you’re allowed to send from their country.

Speak to your bank or money transfer company if you’re unsure about your particular currency route.

Keep in mind that when sending large volumes, it simply may not be possible if it exceeds the relevant limits.

You may get the required sign off from the government, if it’s for an approved purpose. 

For example, you may be approved to send higher volumes from Bangladesh if it is to help cover medical fees.

Common reasons for sending large amounts of money abroad

There are a few reasons why you might want to send a large sum overseas:

  • To purchase a property
  • To repatriate proceeds from the sale of a property abroad
  • To repatriate a large inheritance
  • To purchase a boat or vehicle
  • To emigrate to another country
  • To repatriate proceeds from a business sale

All of these scenarios are best suited for a currency broker.

It’s what they do everyday.

Not only are the account managers experts in currency exchange, they’ll also have a good knowledge of property and asset transactions.

They will know what you need, and sometimes, before you know you need it. 

A house.
You might need to transfer a large amount abroad to buy a property

How to transfer large amounts of money internationally (step-by-step)

The process is a lot simpler than most think:

1. Pick your provider

Pick the company which you think will do the best job for you.

As I explain further down, it comes down to:

  • Cost
  • Safety
  • Speed

Keep reading to learn about what kind of company to choose, and how to choose them.

2. Sign up and get verified

Fill in the form, and get ready to send in your documents.

This will usually be:

  • Government ID (passport, drivers licence, etc.)
  • Proof of address (utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
  • Source of funds (where the money is coming from)
  • Source of wealth (how you obtained this money)
  • Recipient ID (if you aren’t the recipient)

You will usually always be asked for the first two.

This is simply to open your account, and verify that you are who you say you are.

The other three usually come with larger transfers, as there are more questions to be asked.

By supplying documents you are asked for, you are aiding the prevention of financial crime.

You might feel like it violates your privacy, but it is necessary.

Especially for large transfers.

3. Send your funds

Next, it’s time to send your money to the provider.

Sometimes you can use a debit card or google pay/apple pay, but with larger amounts, you’ll probably have to perform a local bank transfer.

It’s usually the quickest and cheapest option, anyway.

Your money transfer provider will supply their local account details and the reference you should include so that they can reconcile your funds and initiate the international transfer.

Simply pop into your local bank branch and arrange the transfer, or initiate the transfer through online banking.

If you want to test the provider out, then start off with a smaller transfer.

Make sure it was received well and at the agreed rate on the other end, and then proceed to send the rest of the money.

4. Lock in the exchange rate

This part is important, as it determines how much money you’ll get on the other side.

You can either:

  1. Lock in the rate straight away
  2. Keep the money there and lock in the rate another time
  3. Set a limit order to trigger an exchange at a target rate
  4. Book a forward contract to lock in a rate now, for a future date

Most people opt for the first option and convert the funds right away.

It’s always best to have a discussion with your account manager.

They’ll give you an outlook on the rate in the future, and if there might be a better time to convert.

A forex graph.
With exchange rates moving every 3 seconds, it's important to time your transfer correctly

5. Receive your funds

Once converted, you need to provide the company with your recipient details.

This will usually be an IBAN and BIC, however it varies from country to country.

Again, your account manager will be able to help with that.

Your provider will then dispatch your funds.

With most currencies and countries, you should receive the funds the same day, if not the next day.

However, some payments can take a few days.


With larger transfers, there is a lot more on the line.

That’s why it is critical to properly assess the market and pick an option that’s good on cost, safety and speed.

If you opt to not use your bank, then a money transfer service will need to know a little bit about you.

They will have to ask questions about your transfer to prevent financial crime.

Also, in some cases there are tax and regulatory concerns to consider.

All in all, the process could take a little longer than a smaller transfer, but is still a relatively simple one.

It is my view that the simplest and most cost efficient option for sending large sums internationally is a currency broker.

They are geared towards those exact situations - inheritance, property purchase, business transactions - and offer very high quality of service, alongside low transfer costs.

Compare and save on your money transfer


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