Transferring Euros to a UK bank account is easy once you understand how it works.
In short, you can either use a bank or a money transfer specialist to do the job.
Below I will explain the process, how long it takes, the options you have, and how to avoid high charges.
How to transfer Euros to Pounds (in 4 simple steps)
If you need to convert Euros to Pounds and send them to a UK bank account, there are only four steps – and none are difficult.
Whether you use a bank or money transfer specialist, the steps are pretty much the same.
Step 1 – ID Check
Before you can send money internationally, you need an ID check.
The reason is that governments are trying to prevent the bad guys moving money around the world (drugs, terrorism etc), so every new customer needs an ID check by law.
If you have a residential address in the UK, it can be quick and easy to verify who you are.
Most UK citizens are identified using their name, address and date of birth.
If you don’t have an address in the UK, then you may need to provide the usual proof of ID and proof of address – a copy of your passport and a utility bill or bank statement in the last few months using does the job.
A lot of people just take a quick photo with their phone or iPad and email it over.
Step 2 – Secure an exchange rate
The next step is to get an exchange rate quote for Euro to Pounds.
This is sometimes abbreviated to EUR to GBP.
When you change Euros to Pounds, you are effectively selling euros and buying pounds.
The EUR to GBP rate moves every few seconds, so the amount of Pounds you will receive is changing throughout the day.
Once you receive an exchange rate quote, you can decide whether to go ahead or not.
Nothing will happen without your permission.
If you are happy to proceed, your bank or money transfer specialist will lock-in your rate.
You will then be emailed a confirmation of your transaction, showing the amount of Euros you have sold and the amount of Pounds you have bought (will receive).
Step 3 – Pay for your money transfer
At this point, you need to pay for your money transfer.
On the confirmation email, there will be the bank details of where you send your Euros.
This is done via a normal bank transfer. After that, your work is done.
Step 4 – Your Euros are converted to Pounds
Once your bank or money transfer specialist has received your Euros, they will convert them into Pounds and send them to the UK bank account you have requested.
How long does it take?
Sending money from mainland Europe to the United Kingdom is quick.
It usually takes 1-2 working days to transfer Euros to a UK bank account.
The time taken can vary if your funds are sent in the afternoon, not the morning.
The cut-off for high street banks and money transfer specialists is normally 2 pm or 3 pm. If your Euros arrive after that, then it will count as the next working day.
If you are under time pressure, you can always choose to send your money in before your Euros are converted to Pounds, making the process quicker end-to-end.
Sending funds in beforehand can take the pressure off time-sensitive payments, such as property transactions.
Banks vs Money Transfer Specialists
High street banks
Familiar, money already sat at bank
Added fees & uncompetitive exchange rates
Small payments, convenience
Money transfer specialists
Lower cost, efficient service
Need to register
Larger amounts (over £5,000)
Banks – familiar but can be costly
Using your bank is a familiar but costly way to convert Euros to Pounds.
The main issue with using a European or UK bank is their high comparative cost and lack of assistance.
You need to be aware of two types of charges:
- Exchange rates.
- Transfer fees.
The exchange rate costs tend to be far greater than the transfer fees.
Our research found that the exchange rates offered by the major European banks were consistently poor.
- United Kingdom: the exchange rate margin at the big banks such as HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays and Natwest, ranged between 3.5% and 5.4%.
- Spain: the major banks such as CaixaBank, Sabadell, Bankia, BBVA and Santander have an exchange rate margin of 3.8% to 5.1%.
- France: exchange rates from the leading banks such as Credit Agricole, BNP Paribas and Societe Generale appear even worse than Spain, with margins at 4.5% to 5.3%.
- Portugal: a similar story to Spain with exchange rate margins for BPI, Nova Banco and Santander Totta coming in at 3.5% to 5%.
- Ireland: exchange rates are no better than those on the continent. AIB, Bank of Ireland and EBS have margins of 4.3% to 5%.
Generally speaking, most of the big European banks have exchange rate margins in the region of 4% to 5%.
If you only intend to do a small amount (under €5,000), you may prefer the convenience of your bank.
But the larger the amount, the higher the stakes.
If you just accept a bad exchange rate, it could cost you thousands in additional charges.
What's more, if you use your bank, you should be aware that they will probably charge you transfer fees on top of the exchange rate costs.
A transfer fee tends to be a flat fee in the region of €20-€50 charged per international money transfer.
Be aware that some banks will charge you two transfer fees - firstly by the sending bank in Europe, and secondly by the receiving bank in the UK. A double whammy.
Some money transfer specialists, such as ourselves, don't charge any transfer fees for international money transfers.
The information you will need
To send money to the UK using a bank transfer, you will need to have the IBAN of your bank account in the UK.
IBAN stands for ‘international bank account number’.
It is a standard way of identifying bank accounts anywhere in the world.
In the UK, an IBAN consists of 22 characters (a combination of letters and numbers).
The easiest way to get your IBAN is to log in to your UK bank account or look at a bank statement.
We can help you with this if you get stuck.
Are you selling a property abroad?
For large Euro amounts, the extra cost of a bank transfer to the UK can be substantial.
If you are a British expat selling property in Spain, France, Italy or Portugal, at completion, you will need to convert the sales proceeds from Euros into Pounds.
On a sales price of say €80,000, you could be up to €4,000 worse off using a bank to move your money back to the UK.
That’s a lot of money in most people’s books (it is in mine).
Another thing to note is that your bank may limit the daily amount of money you can send online.
The daily transfer limit for UK banks tends to be between €15,000 - €100,000.
If you use your bank, you may need to go into a branch to complete your transfer in one payment.
Although the banks impose daily payment limits, it is not a legal requirement to do so. Money transfer companies don't tend to restrict the size of international money transfers, so they may be a better option if you are completing a property sale.
Why use a money transfer specialist?
A money transfer specialist is normally the best way to transfer Euros to Pounds in terms of overall cost and service provided.
The savings can be substantial compared to using your bank.
For transfer amounts over £5,000, you’re likely to get a cheaper exchange rate from a money transfer specialist than a high street bank.
The reason money transfer specialists can offer customers better exchange rates is that they have far overheads.
Most of the major UK and European banks incur billions in annual running costs.
Someone has to pay for that (hint: their customers).
Overall, banks can charge up to 3%-4% more to convert Euros to Pounds than a money transfer specialist.
It does depend on the exact transfer size and which bank you use.
But the point is there's no harm in comparing your bank to an alternative provider. The larger your international money transfer, the more the costs will make a difference to you.
Is it safe to use a money transfer specialist?
Anyone sending money abroad will naturally want to know about the safety and security of their funds.
Before choosing a money transfer service, I would suggest looking at things like customer reviews, where the company is based, and if it's regulated.
Something else to note - not all money transfer companies are Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) - the UK's financial watchdog.
An important point is that an Authorised company is required to segregate client funds.
Segregation of funds means that customer money is held in a completely separate and safeguarded bank account.
To find out if a money transfer specialist is Authorised and Regulated, just enter the company’s name on the FCA register and click on the button to the right that says Search the Register.
Why you can’t trust exchange rates online
If you need to exchange Euros to Pounds, the fluctuations in the EUR/GBP rate is the key thing to focus on.
These days you have probably seen that a lot of different websites display exchange rates.
The more popular sites include XE, Oanda and DailyFX.
But there's a problem.
The exchange rates you see online are not actually available to customers.
What you are seeing are ‘interbank exchange rates’.
Interbank exchange rates are used by major banks and institutions to exchange currencies between themselves.
To cut a long story short, even large corporations and money transfer companies don't buy or sell currencies at interbank rates. Nor can the person in the street.
You will find a disclaimer somewhere of these foreign exchange websites saying that the rates displayed are "not available to consumers" or are "for informational purposes only”.
If you think that’s annoying, you’re not alone.
The bottom line is to avoid frustration and misinformation; you should base your plans on a genuine rate from a bank or money transfer company.
How to get the best Euro to Pound rate
Exchange rates can be volatile. They never sit still for long.
Even small moves in the exchange rate can have a big impact on the Pounds you will receive for your Euros.
That's why it’s also worth your while trying to get the best rate you can.
A money transfer specialist can work with you to achieve the best possible exchange rate.
One of the advantages of using a money transfer specialist is that you can explain your requirement and the timeframe you have in mind.
A money transfer specialist can then monitor the rate for you – they watch the screens all day anyway as part of their job - and alert you if the rate moves in your favour.
If the EUR to GBP rate goes your way or begins to move against you, they can keep you informed.
It can make a big difference.
Even a 0.5% adverse swing in the Euro rate on a €100,000 transfer could cost you an extra €500.
Moves of that size happen almost every day.
Getting some guidance on exchange rates could help optimise the timing of your transfer and ultimately reduce your costs.
It’s important to note though that a bank or online-only money transfer operator won’t offer you any guidance or assistance when it comes to exchange rates.
At a bank, the staff at the branch level are focused on mortgages and savings products. International money transfers are not a priority.
And online-only operators, such as PayPal, TransferWise and Revolut, are really just "do-it-yourself" systems.
You have to enter all the information, press all the buttons and make all the decisions.
They are more popular for small amounts (under £5,000) but don't offer any assistance for larger amounts.
If you need to move a large sum of money back to the UK, you may prefer having someone that can assist you with the process and offer guidance on exchange rates.
How to protect yourself against a falling Euro
If you are worried about the Euro moving against you in the future, a money transfer specialist can lock-in an exchange rate up to 12 months in advance of your money transfer.
This is called a 'forward contract'.
Forward contracts are a way of protecting yourself against adverse exchange rate movements.
While the time period can be up to 12 months, you have the option to draw on the funds at the time of your choosing.
A forward contract can be useful if you have exchanged on the sale a property abroad, but you are awaiting the completion date.
During this window (which can drag on for weeks to months), you know the amount of Euros you will be receiving, but remain exposed to exchange rate risk until you physically get the money.
By taking out a forward contract, you can fix the Euro to Pound exchange rate and therefore know the exact amount you will receive in Pounds.
This can be useful if you are moving back to the UK and looking to buy a property, as you will have a firm budget to work with.
If you are looking to transfer Euros to Pounds, you can use a bank or money transfer specialist.
While banks might seem like the obvious option, money transfer specialists can be a lot cheaper and more efficient.
Who are we?
Key Currency is a leading money transfer specialist.
The cost of our service is included within the exchange rate we quote. There are no additional fees or charges you need to worry about.
By understanding your exact requirements, we can work with you to achieve a better exchange rate.
Importantly, we don't push you onto a trading platform and make you do all the work.
All our customers are allocated an account manager who will take care of the entire process for you.
As a company, we are open and transparent.
We don’t hide behind generic jargon or a faceless 'app'.
The names, faces and backgrounds of all our team of people are shown on our website.
You have the peace of mind knowing that Key Currency is an FCA regulated Authorised Payment Institution (No. 753989), and as such, all money transfers are conducted through safeguarded client accounts.
We have attained a 5-star “excellent” customer rating on the review website Trustpilot; the highest rating available.
If you are based in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Ireland – or anywhere in the EU - we can help convert Euros to Pounds in a quick, secure and cost-effective way.
To make a no-obligation enquiry, please request a quote below.