International money transfers: How to send money to & from Germany

International money transfers: How to send money to & from Germany

If you live in Germany, or are thinking of moving here, sooner or later you will need to transfer money from your native country to a German bank account, or vice versa. You might be buying a house, have utility bills or tuition fees to pay, or a family to support back home. No matter what your reason is for transferring money to or from Germany, the same general guidance applies. 

Sending money to and from Germany via an online transfer

Sending funds via an online transfer is increasingly becoming the most popular option for transferring money abroad. Online money transfers are fast, low-cost, secure and easy, helping you to avoid the sometimes excessive fees charged the traditional institutions people usually do their banking with. 

Popular money transfer services & providers

These companies all offer competitive rates for online money transfers:

How can I send money abroad?

One of the best things about online money transfer services is how convenient they are. Instead of having to visit your bank in person, you can simply load up the website on your laptop, smartphone or tablet and wire the money in a few clicks.

How does sending money / receiving money from abroad work?

Here’s how the process of sending money online works:

Open an account

Once you have decided which online transfer service you would like to use, you need to make an account on their website, providing a few details such as your name, date of birth and email address. Depending on the service you have chosen, you might have to verify your identity. 

Choose amount and delivery option

You then need to give some details about the transaction you want to make. How much are you sending? Which currency is your money in, and which would you like to convert it into? Do you need a fast transfer or can you wait a few days? 

Add recipient's details

You’ll need to also add details about your recipient, including their name and bank account number.


Once you have added all the required information, you pay the money to the transfer company. This can be done with a credit or debit card, as if you were online shopping, or via a regular bank transfer. You might need to enter a special reference number to make sure your money gets forwarded on to the right place. 

Finish the transfer

Once the transfer company receives your funds, they will begin the process of transferring your money onto the final recipient. This might take a couple of days. You will receive a notification once the money has landed in your recipient’s bank account.  

How long do international money transfers take?

The time it takes for money to be transferred internationally depends on the transfer service you choose. Bank to bank transfers usually take 1 - 2 working days, but it can be longer if you’re transferring money outside the EU. Cash transfer options like Western Union can take as little as 10 minutes, while online transfers are usually completed within a few hours (and sometimes as little as a few seconds), but can take up to a couple of days for larger sums of money.

Note the term “working days”. Most banks have a cut-off time in the early afternoon, after which transfers are not sent until the following day (or the following week, if you’re attempting to transfer money at the weekend). If you need your money quickly, it’s best to transfer early in the morning on a weekday. 

Cost of sending money abroad

No matter which type of money transfer service you use, the final cost you pay is always determined by a combination of four factors. 

  • The transfer fee charged by the bank or transfer company
  • The amount of money you are transferring
  • The speed of the transfer 
  • The currencies involved and the exchange rate at the time of the transfer

Be sure when selecting a service, that you always check the total cost, which takes into account all of these factors. Some companies may seem like they charge really low fees, but often this means that their exchange rate is high, and so you end up paying more. 

How do markups work?

Money transfer services make profits from foreign exchange by taking a markup off the mid-market rates. If the interbank exchange rate for euros to US dollars is 1,113, for example, and a certain service is offering 1,083, they are charging a markup of 0,03 dollars per euro - the equivalent of 2,69 percent, before service fees and additional commissions are even added. 

How to get the best exchange rates

It therefore always pays to shop around for the best exchange rate. Just because a certain company charges lower fees does not mean that they will work out cheapest overall. You can use a comparison tool (see above) to see which companies would work out cheapest for the amount and type of money you want to transfer. To make true comparisons, look at the total amount the recipient will receive. 

What you need to know about transferring foreign currency abroad

Here are some other tips for saving money when transferring money to and from Germany.

Send larger amounts

It almost always works out cheaper to send a large amount of money once, rather than smaller amounts several times. 

Don’t pay for speed

If you don’t need your money to be transferred quickly, you can save money by choosing a longer period of time. 

Watch out for minimum transfer amounts

Some companies specialise in transferring small amounts, while others don’t allow you to send under a minimum amount. Be sure to check the conditions of the company you’re interested in, to make sure you secure the best possible rate. 

Consider transfer options

Some transfer brokers offer the option to lock in an optimal exchange rate now, and then transfer the money at a later stage. If you’re not in a rush to transfer your money, you can also plan so that it only gets sent when an optimal exchange rate is reached. 

From "Euro to INR” and “AUD to Euro” to “Euro to Zar” and “CHF to Euro" 

Online money transfer providers enable you to send money to almost every country in the world. Apart from dollars and pounds to euros and vice versa, you can exchange money to other currencies such as "CAD to Euro”, "RAND to Euro”, "Zloty to Euro” "HUF to Euro”, "Euro to Rupiah”, "Euro to Zar” and many more.

What other tools do international exchange providers offer? 

As well as simply allowing you to transfer your money between different countries and currencies, international exchange providers offer a number of different services. These include:

  • Currency converters
  • Currency charts
  • Rate alerts
  • Money transfer tips
  • Glossaries of terms
  • Real time comparisons

International payments for businesses

If you run your own business or are working in a self-employed capacity, you might need to send money to and from Germany. Instead of using your business bank account, you could go through a specialist foreign exchange provider to make overseas payments. As is the case for individuals, these services often offer more competitive rates for business transfers than high-street banks. 

Other ways to send money abroad

Of course, you don't have to send your money via the internet. There are a number of more traditional services for transferring money internationally, including bank transfers and cash remittance services. You can also use mobile money services to convert between different currencies. 

This page uses affiliate links.

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