International Bank Transfers Explained

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International Bank Transfers Explained

As global mobilisation continues to thrive, businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on cross-border transactions. But, unsurprisingly, time is of the essence with these payment types, so how do they work? And, how quickly do they clear?


Let’s take a closer look…

What Is an International Bank Transfer?

An international bank transfer is a financial transaction from one country to another.

How Long Do International Bank Transfers Take?

There isn’t a set amount of time for international bank transfers to clear. However, generally, they can take between one to five business days, although, it’s important to note that typically they will only be processed on business days.


With most international bank transfers, you’ll need an IBAN number, BIC/SWIFT number and the recipient’s details. Usually, you can do all of this either through online banking or face to face with your bank.

What Factors Can Slow Down International Bank Transfers?

Despite the advancements in online banking over the past few years, international bank transfers can be held up for various reasons, including:


  • Incorrect payment details – Even the most minor of errors can cause a hold up, so before making a payment, double check all the details.
  • Fraud prevention – The processes implemented by banks to minimise fraud are often one of the most common reasons for an international bank transfer to be delayed. For example, the SWIFT network requires the payment to pass through three corresponding banks before it reaches the final destination.
  • Weekends & bank holidays – There’s no getting away from the fact that if the bank is closed, it’s closed. So, if you’re trying to make a payment on or close to the weekend or special holidays (which vary from country to country), then your payment will take a little longer to reach the recipient.
  • Alternate timezones – Not everyone is working in the same time zone, so even though you may make an international payment at 9am your time, this might not be the same time for other banks. Consider making payments that suit the end destination’s time.
  • Different currencies – Processing is often held up due to the varying global currencies, this is something that comes with making international bank transfers.



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