How Long Do International Bank Transfers Take?

International bank transfers, a common method for sending money across borders, can often leave senders and recipients alike wondering about the time it takes for the money to reach its destination. This article aims to demystify the process, providing a comprehensive guide on the factors that influence transfer times and how long you can typically expect a transfer to take. Whether you’re a business making payments to overseas suppliers or an individual sending money to loved ones abroad, understanding the timeline of international bank transfers can help you plan better and avoid unnecessary stress.

When it comes to international bank transfers, the duration can vary. Typically, such transfers are completed within one to two days. However, depending on the currency involved, it could extend up to five days. Transfers involving US dollars or euros tend to be quicker due to their strong global standing, while those involving less dominant currencies might take longer.

Moreover, the processing time at the recipient’s end can also influence the duration of the transfer. Factors such as the banking infrastructure and regulations of the destination country can further extend this period. In some cases, it might take longer than five days for the transfer to be completed.

Understanding International Bank Transfers

An international bank transfer, also known as a wire transfer, is a method of electronically moving funds from one bank account to another across international borders. These transfers are facilitated by a network of correspondent banks that relay the funds from the sender’s bank to the recipient’s bank.

The process involves several steps, including initiating the transfer, processing the request, sending the funds, and crediting the recipient’s account. Each of these steps can take varying amounts of time, depending on a range of factors.

It’s important to note that while international bank transfers are a reliable way to send money abroad, they are not always the fastest or the most cost-effective. Other methods, such as using a specialist money transfer service, may offer quicker transfers and lower fees. Understanding the ins and outs of international bank transfers can help you make an informed decision about the best way to send money abroad.

Factors Affecting the Speed of International Bank Transfers

Several factors can influence how long an international bank transfer takes. Here are some of the most common:

Banking Hours and Days: Banks operate on business days, and any transactions initiated outside of these hours will be processed on the next business day. Additionally, if the sending and receiving banks are in different time zones, this can also delay the transfer.

Intermediary Banks: If the transfer needs to pass through intermediary banks (which is often the case for international transfers), this can add time to the process.

Verification Processes: Banks have to perform security checks and verification processes to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations. These checks can add time to the transfer process.

Currency Exchange: If the transfer involves a currency exchange, it may take additional time to process.

Bank Policies: Each bank has its own policies and procedures for handling international transfers, which can affect the speed of the transfer.

Transfer Amount: Large amounts may take longer to process due to additional security checks and regulations.

Average Time for Different Transfer Methods

The time it takes for an international bank transfer can also depend on the method used for the transfer. Here are some common methods and their average times:

SWIFT Transfers: The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network is commonly used for international bank transfers. Transfers through SWIFT usually take 1-5 business days, but it can take longer depending on the factors mentioned above.

SEPA Transfers: For transfers within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which includes 36 European countries, transfers usually take 1-2 business days.

Online Money Transfer Services: Online services like TransferWise, Revolut, or PayPal can often process international transfers faster than traditional banks. Transfer times can range from a few minutes to a couple of business days, depending on the service and the specifics of the transfer.

Cryptocurrency Transfers: Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can be used for international transfers and can sometimes be faster than traditional methods. However, transfer times can vary widely due to factors like network congestion and the time it takes to convert the cryptocurrency back into traditional currency.

How to Speed Up International Bank Transfers

  1. Provide Accurate Information: Ensure all the information you provide, including the recipient’s name, bank details, and SWIFT code, is accurate. Mistakes can lead to delays.
  2. Initiate Transfer Early in the Day: Banks have cut-off times for processing transactions each day. Initiating your transfer early in the day increases the chances of it being processed the same day.
  3. Use a Fast Transfer Option: Some banks offer expedited transfer options for an additional fee.
  4. Check with Your Bank: Some banks have relationships with foreign banks that can expedite the process. Check with your bank to see if this is an option.
  5. Use a Specialist Money Transfer Service: These services often have faster transfer times than traditional banks. They can also offer better exchange rates.


  1. What is the fastest way to send an international bank transfer?

    While traditional bank transfers can take several days, using a specialist money transfer service can often speed up the process. These services often have established relationships with banks around the world, allowing them to quickly move money across borders.

  2. Does the time of day affect how long an international bank transfer takes?

    Yes, the time of day can impact the speed of your transfer. Banks often have cut-off times for processing transactions. If a transfer is made after this time, it may not be processed until the next business day.

  3. Can weekends and holidays affect the speed of international bank transfers?

    Yes, weekends and holidays can slow down the process. Banks often do not process transactions on these days, so if you make a transfer on a weekend or holiday, it may not be processed until the next business day.

  4. Why do international bank transfers take longer than domestic ones?

    International bank transfers often involve multiple banks and countries, each with their own processing times and regulations. This can add time to the transfer. Additionally, factors such as time zones and currency conversion can also slow down the process.

  5. Can the receiving bank affect how long an international bank transfer takes?

    Yes, the receiving bank’s processing times and policies can impact how long it takes for the funds to be available in the recipient’s account.

  6. What can I do if my international bank transfer is taking longer than expected?

    If your transfer is taking longer than expected, it’s a good idea to contact your bank or money transfer provider. They can provide information about the status of the transfer and may be able to help resolve any issues.