How to transfer money to a foreign bank account from India

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Any transfers for sending money out of India do need to comply with the Reserve Bank of India’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme. This means that the total amount of transfers in a financial year can not exceed the currency equivalent of $250,000 USD. Additionally, the transfers must be for one of the following reasons:

  • Travel outside of India
  • Gifts
  • Donations
  • Going overseas for employment
  • Moving overseas
  • Supporting close relatives living abroad
  • Medical expenses for a treatment abroad
  • Education abroad
  • Travel for business or for a conference
  • Maintenance of close relatives abroad

A PAN card is required for any transfers made from India to bank accounts abroad.¹

SWIFT/ Wire transfer with banks

Reliable but slow optionFees can be highFor faster transfers, online banking accessibility helps

Wire transfers, commonly known as SWIFT transfers, are electronic transfers between banks that are part of the SWIFT global network. The transfers allow for money to be sent from one bank account to another bank account around the world within 3-5 business days on average. SWIFT was a popular mode of transfer, but it is currently being beaten in price and speed by online money transfer providers.

When doing a SWIFT transfer you can expect to pay a transaction fee that is charged by the bank, and an exchange rate fee. Most, if not all, banks set their own exchange rate so that it is weaker than the mid-market exchange rate. In that way, they can take a cut of every rupee that is converted to another currency. And while it can seem small, that cut can add up quickly.

If you want to send a SWIFT transfer, the easiest place to start is your online net banking with your current bank in India. There is usually an option for international money transfers within your net banking dashboard to start the process. Here is how to make a SWIFT or outward remittance if you are a State Bank of India client:²

  1. Sign in to the SBI Online retail banking website or app
  2. Select Profile and then Manage Beneficiary
  3. Select International Beneficiary and press Add
  4. Add your new beneficiary details
  5. Once your beneficiary has been added, go to the home screen and select Payments & Transfers
  6. Select Fund Transfer
  7. Select International Beneficiary to add your overseas recipient
  8. Enter in the transfer details including the amount to be sent
  9. Confirm the transaction to initiate payment from your account
  10. Submit
🔖 Read more: Full guide to SWIFT transfers from India

Online money transfer with providers

Low cost and quick transfersTransactions can have capsEasy online or mobile app accessibility

Online money transfer providers have become a popular way to send money globally due to their convenience, speed, and often low cost. Well-known providers are companies like Wise, InstaRem, Xoom, and Remitly which are all online or mobile app-based. To be clear, these companies are not banks but act as service providers that take payment to make your transfers online.

Users often like the handiness of being able to send transfers at any time of day and without having to leave their house. And due to the use of modern tech, online money transfer providers can be not only secure but also cheaper than banks when sending money abroad. Some providers won’t have transaction fees but may have an exchange rate markup. While other providers, like Wise, may have a transaction fee but give you the mid-market exchange rate – without markups- on your transaction to help save money.

Delivery times with online money transfer providers can also be faster than more traditional methods like with banks. Transfers on popular routes from abroad to India can be completed in seconds, while transfers from India to abroad can take a day or two. Shop around and compare services before completing your transaction.

Save money vs banks when sending money abroad with Wise

Wise Web/Android/ iOS app is an easy, fast and cheap way to send money around the world

Wise is a cost-effective and easy way to send money overseas from India. There is no sign-up fee so you can start sending money as soon as you register. Here are the steps for sending money from your computer or mobile app with Wise.

  1. Head to the Wise website or download the mobile app on iOS/Android
  2. Register with an email address or with your Google, Facebook, or Apple account
  3. Enter in your details
  4. Once you are registered, select Send Money
  5. Input your transfer details including amount and destination country
  6. Wise will tell you upfront the cost and delivery time
  7. Complete your recipient’s local bank account details abroad
  8. Select the reason for the transfer from the drop-down menu
  9. Pay for the transfer from your bank account
  10. Submit

Once the payment has gone through, Wise will let you know when your transfer has been sent and you can track it online. Wise also provides a helpful link to share with your recipient so they can track the transfer from their end, without having to sign up.

  • Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.
  • The speed of transaction claim depends on funds availability, approval by Wise’s proprietary verification system and systems availability of our partners’ banking system, and may not be available for all transactions

Western Union

Easy online transfersExchange rate fee can be expensiveTransfers to 40+ countries

Western Union has agent branches in India and an easy-to-use website and mobile app to send money abroad. Western Union offers competitive rates and fees for international money transfers and can send money to bank accounts in Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, and Asia.

Western Union allows you to send the currency equivalent of up to $10,000 USD transfers for education or tuition, and only $5,000 USD for other remittance purposes.

While promotional pricing of no transfer fee can be attractive with Western Union, the major part of its cost can be found in the exchange rate. Western Union weakens the exchange rate from the mid-market exchange rate, which can end up costing you more than other service providers. But on the other hand, Western Union transfers can be fast and a good idea if in a rush.

If you are looking to send a transfer online with Western Union, here are the steps to get started:³

  1. Head to the Western Union website to sign up
  2. Enter in your details and create a password
  3. Provide a PAN card and ensure it matches your details
  4. Enter in your annual income range
  5. Provide your Aadhaar card details
  6. Submit to Register
  7. Head back to Western Union and select Send Money
  8. Input the amount to transfer and the receiving currency
  9. Select how the recipient should receive the funds
  10. Choose how you would like to pay
  11. Review the fees and delivery date
  12. Submit the transaction

Bank drafts and cashier’s checks

Requires going to a bankCharges are competitivePhysical check or draft to be mailed to sender

Foreign currency bank drafts are one way to send money to banks overseas within your bank’s network. The bank draft is drawn from your account and provided physically for you to send to your recipient. Although outdated to an extent, the bank draft is created in the name of the beneficiary so it can not be cashed or received by anyone else. Most Indian banks should have bank drafts services but destinations may be limited. And the bank may require you to be an account holder first, so check with your current bank about demand drafts.⁴

DBS is one Indian bank that does Foreign Currency Demand Drafts, here is how to go about getting one:⁵

  1. Sign in to your DBS online account
  2. Download the demand draft request form
  3. Complete the request form with the recipient, sender, and transaction details
  4. Submit the form to the bank

Bank drafts or cashier’s cheques can take up to a month to be cashed by your recipient. There is a transaction fee as well as an exchange rate markup fee to be expected with bank drafts but can differ from bank to bank.

International Money Order

Online international money orderCan be expensiveRequires a Postal Savings Bank account with India Post

An international money order in India can be done through the India Post website. Similar to a bank draft with a bank, an international money order does require you to have an existing account with India Post. There are also restrictions as with the India Post you can only send a money order to France or the UAE. And the maximum you can send is 1,500 Euros or 9,000 dirhams.

Here are the steps for sending an international money order with the India Post:

  1. Go to the India Post website
  2. Sign in to your registered user account on India Post.
  3. Select Financial Services
  4. Select International Money order
  5. Provide details of the money order
  6. Pay online
  7. Submit
  8. A Money Order number and Transaction ID will be provided on the receipt.

If you have not registered on the India Post website, but have an India Post savings account, you can register easily online by providing your details and agreeing to the terms and conditions. While the cost of an international money order is not clear, senders are only allowed to send 30 orders a year.⁶

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