Money transfers from abroad: A guide

Germany By Francesca Gerardis July 11, 2022

If you have friends or family far from home, there’s a chance you may receive a money transfer from abroad. Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, secure a housing deposit or cover the costs of living expenses. When it comes to receiving money from abroad you have several options available.

For many people, a bank transfer may seem like the most obvious way to send and receive money from abroad. However, there may be money transfer options that are better suited to your individual needs than the typical bank payment. In this guide we’ll explore the different options for receiving money from abroad and how they compare to one another.

In this article


How can I receive money from abroad

With lots of different options at your disposal, it can be hard to know which is best. Let’s look at some of the most common ways to get money transferred from abroad:

International transfer services

International money transfer services are known for being one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to receive money from abroad. They typically feature lower transaction fees and better foreign exchange rates than most banks. Additionally, money transfer services usually feature multiple ways to receive your money, rather than being limited to money transfers to your bank account.

At Western Union, we make getting your funds fast1, easy, and reliable. Choose a method of receipt most convenient for you – such as cash in person, payments direct to a bank account, or loaded on a prepaid card.


Bank transfer

One of the most common ways to receive money from overseas is via bank transfer. The sender will usually initiate the money transfer by visiting their chosen bank branch or via online banking. All you need to do is provide your bank details to the sender.

Bank transfers can be costly, as they often apply additional fees on top of the foreign exchange rate. In some instances, these can affect the final sum, especially with international bank transfers outside of the EEA (European Economic Area.) To learn more about transfer charges and regulations, read our guide on international transfer fee regulations.



One of the more traditional ways to receive a money transfer from abroad is via cheque. Your sender simply requests a cheque from the bank and then posts it to you. Once you have received the cheque you can cash it in at your local branch.

This method has become less popular in recent years as it is quite a slow process and often involves high fees.


Cash delivery

You can arrange to collect a money transfer in person All you need to do is visit your nearest bank or money services location to collect the funds. For security reasons, you’ll likely be asked for the transaction number and a government issued ID, so make sure you have these to hand.


Mobile wallet

You may be able to receive an international money transfer with your mobile wallet. Though the feature is only available within certain countries and with certain services. The process is straightforward, and most money transfers can be done online or via an app. Once the payment has been sent, the funds can appear in the receiver’s wallet instantly.


What to look out for when receiving money from abroad

There are several things you will need to take into consideration when receiving a money transfer from abroad.


You may have to pay some fees in order to receive the money sent to you. The fees involved will depend on several factors, which are listed below.


Transfer fees

Most banks or service providers will have their own fees for international money transfers. These are separated into sending fees and receiving fees and are likely to vary based around the transaction method involved, such as online vs in person.


Intermediary bank fees

Some money transfers may involve a third party that charge a transfer fee in addition to the bank’s sending fees and receiving fees.


Exchange rates

When receiving an international money transfer, the service provider will apply exchange rates. As a result, you may notice a difference in the amount of funds that are sent vs the amount you have received. Y Use a currency exchange calculator ahead of time to work out exchange rates and how much money you’ll receive after any fees are applied.

It is worth noting that exchange rates can differ from provider to provider, so you may want to shop around to make sure you get the best deal.



Most banks and money service providers will have a limit on the amount of money you can receive in a single transaction. Each country, bank and method abides by a different set of rules, so a money transfer from abroad to Germany can look different from receiving money in China or the United States, for example.

Make sure you check the terms and conditions of your provider before you receive any funds from another country.



The time it takes for your money to arrive depends on the process used to send it. The duration can be affected by:

  • the provider
  • where the money is being sent to/from
  • the method in which the money is being sent
  • the method in which the money is collected
  • the currency used
  • the date the transfer was compete (e.g. a weekday or public holiday).


What information do you need to provide before receiving a money transfer from abroad?

The information you need to provide to get money transferred from abroad will depend on how you choose to receive the money. For example, sending cash won’t require any bank details, but you may need to bring along some DE government-issued ID and security PIN to collect the funds.

For a standard bank transfer, you’ll generally need to provide the following details:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Bank name and address
  • IBAN or bank account number
  • Sort code

Depending on the amount you receive, you may also be required to fill out an AWV obligation report. According to the German Foreign and Payments Regulation, incoming or outgoing payments of more than €12,500 from abroad must be reported to the Deutsche Bundesbank.



FAQs and guides


1 Funds may be delayed or services unavailable based on certain transaction conditions, including amount sent, destination country, currency availability, regulatory issues, identification requirements, agent location hours, differences in time zones, or selection of delayed options. For mobile transactions funds will be paid to the receiver’s mWallet account provider for credit to the account tied to the receiver’s mobile number. Additional third-party charges may apply, including SMS and account over-limit and cash-out fees. See the transfer form for restrictions.