I'll show you how to transfer money from the UK to Australia, as well as explain how long it takes, how to avoid high fees and the best way to get a great rate.
From a personal perspective, I have been in your shoes...
My family and I relocated to Australia only a few years ago.
Since emigrating, I have done over a dozen money transfers to Australia, so I can talk from real-life experience.
Transfer money to Australia (in four simple steps)
If you need to send money to Australia, it’s not as complicated as you might think.
There are only four steps.
Step 1 - Register as a client
An ID check is required for all new clients because the laws around money laundering are very strict these days.
As such, banks and currency brokers are legally required to identify a person before they can send money abroad.
It doesn't take long. Most people can be automatically identified through their name, address and passport number.
Step 2 - Secure an exchange rate
Once registered, you are in a position to lock-in an exchange rate.
When you're ready, your bank or currency broker will quote you a live exchange rate for Pound Sterling (GBP) to Australian Dollars (AUD).
No transaction will take place without your consent.
If you go ahead, you will be sent a confirmation email with all the details of your transfer (amount, rate, where to send your Pounds).
Step 3 - Pay for your transfer
Time to send in your Pounds to pay for your transfer. This is normally done using a regular bank transfer. Your bank or currency broker will provide you with the details of where to send the money.
You are normally given 1-2 working days to send the money in. If you are on a tight deadline, you can send your Pounds in before you transact to speed things up.
Step 4 - Your money is converted and sent
Once your money is received by your bank or currency broker, they will convert your Pounds into Australian Dollars and then send the funds to the Australian bank account you’ve requested. Job done.
How long does it take to send money to Australia?
It takes 3-4 days for a money transfer to get from the UK to an Australian bank account.
It can be quicker, but I would rather give you a realistic expectation.
From my own experience, it varies based on the Australian bank.
Commonwealth has been quicker than Bankwest for me.
Another factor is what time of day you send your funds into your bank or currency specialist – morning or afternoon.
There are cut-off times for money transfers to Australia.
If your funds arrive after 2pm, normally that would count as the next working day.
Information you will need to send money to Australia
You will need to have the following details of the recipient bank account:
- Account name (can be in your name or someone else's)
- Bank name
- Bank Swift/BIC code
- Bank account number
Unlike the UK, Australia does not use the IBAN system.
Instead, they use a SWIFT/BIC code - which identifies the bank only, not your actual account.
A BIC or SWIFT code is the same thing.
Below are the SWIFT/BIC codes for the Big Four Aussie banks:
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA): CTBAAU2S
- Westpac: WPACAU2S
- ANZ Australia: ANZBAU3M
- National Australia Bank (NAB): NATAAU33
In Australia, the BSB is the equivalent to a Sort Code in the UK. It identifies the branch your account is held at.
When you put the BIC, BSB and Account Number together, it provides the complete chain to route your money to the right place.
A currency broker can help double-check the details before your money is sent.
Bank or Currency Broker – what's the difference?
You can use either a bank or currency broker to transfer money to Australia.
The main difference is cost.
Our research has found that banks can charge up to 3%-4% more than a currency broker.
It depends on the amount you send and the bank.
As an example, if you were planning a £100,000 money transfer to Australia, you could be up to £4,000 worse off using a bank.
In days gone by, people automatically used their bank to make an international money transfer.
But these days customers have a lot more options.
The fact is money transfers are not a priority for a bank, and their branch-level staff have minimal knowledge and training in this area.
Banks are set up for savings accounts and mortgages.
That’s their bread and butter.
When it comes to foreign exchange and money transfers, banks simply aren't competitive.
Not only are their exchange rates considerably worse, but they also tend to add on fees and charges every time you make a transfer.
Many customers aren’t aware that they have a choice in the matter, so the big banks continue to get away with offering poor rates and high fees.
The reason currency brokers can offer much better exchange rates than the banks is because they have much lower overheads.
Lloyds, Barclays, Natwest and HSBC have annual running costs that run into the billions.
Who pays for that? Their customers.
Whereas a currency broker is focused on international money transfers.
If they didn't do a better job than the banks, they wouldn't exist.
Currency brokers can help guide you through the whole process, keep you informed at each stage, and offer you guidance on exchange rates.
The way to avoid paying any transfer fees
Most of the UK's big banks will charge you transfer fees when you send money to Australia.
The fees vary depending on the bank.
- Barclays charges its customers a £25 fee per payment if you go into a branch or use telephone banking, but there is no transfer fee if you do it all yourself online (how very generous of them).
- Lloyds charges a standard fee of £9.50 but also collects a £20 fee for the corresponding Australian bank. These fees apply whether you use a branch or go online.
- Natwest charges nothing for a non-urgent international payment but has a £10k daily limit.
- Santander charges a £25 flat fee for any transfer to Australia.
These fees can accumulate quickly if you make several payments.
In my experience, a lot of people send a large amount for a house purchase but then need ongoing funds for living expenses.
You might end up making over 10 transfers over time, as I have.
If you are charged £25 per transfer, you could end up paying out £250 just in transfer fees.
Note - the transfer fees charged by banks are in addition to the money made from the exchange rate.
Here's my simple solution - to avoid paying fees, avoid using the banks.
That's because currency brokers, such as ourselves, don't charge clients any transfer fees.
Why you shouldn't use your bank
- It's not their area of expertise
- Their exchange rates are uncompetitive
- Banks charge you various fees
- They won't help you with timing
- You are not their priority
How safe is a currency broker?
Knowing your money is safe and secure is obviously important.
One thing I would recommend is to ensure any currency broker you use is Authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Authorised firms must separate customer money from their own.
This is called 'ringfencing'.
It provides peace of mind for customers knowing their funds are held in a separate, safeguarded account.
You can type the name of a company into the Financial Services Register to check their regulatory status.
How to get a great exchange rate
Exchange rates such as GBP/AUD change every 2-3 seconds throughout the day.
Even as you sleep, the rate is moving around.
Over the course of a few weeks, or sometimes days, you can see big moves in the exchange rate.
Even a 2% swing in the rate on a £100,000 transfer means a £2,000 difference to you.
Some people might be comfortable knowing when the time is right to make their transfer.
But for most people, this is not something they are used to doing, and so getting some assistance can be a real help.
A pro-active currency broker can monitor the movements in the exchange rate for you and let you know when the rate moves in your favour.
A bank or online-only platforms, such as Transferwise or Revolut, are essentially "do-it-yourself" services.
That can be scary if you don't know what you're doing.
For larger amounts, many customers want the peace of mind of having someone they can speak to.
I have experienced this myself first-hand. I wanted to know someone was keeping an eye of my money, and I could call them if I had any worries or concerns.
I didn’t want to have to write an email to a support centre or have a ‘web chat’ with a robot asking me a bunch of security questions. Call me old fashioned, but give me a person any day.
A currency broker can not only give you assurance and assist with the timing of your transfer, but they can also check over the important details such as the payment information to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Beware of 'fake’ exchange rates online
These days there are quite a few websites, such as XE and Oanda, that provide live exchange rates for free.
But there's a problem you'll face when the time comes to send money.
The free exchange rates you see online are for "information purposes only" and are "not available to consumers".
If you haven’t seen the disclaimers before, you’re not alone.
Usually, they are found somewhere near the bottom of the page or even worse, you need to click on a link to discover what you are seeing is not a real rate you can get.
It’s because the free sites are using something called "interbank" rates. As the name suggests, it is the rate banks use to balance their books with each other.
Not even large corporations that trade several hundred million at a time can achieve the interbank rate.
It's a source of frustration and confusion for consumers but is worth knowing in advance.
To get a real rate, I suggest you request a quote from a bank or broker.
If you are transferring money from the UK to Australia:
- You can use either a bank or a currency broker.
- Banks can charge up to 4% more than currency brokers.
- It takes around 3-4 working days for your money to arrive.
- To avoid fees and charges, use a currency broker rather than a bank.
- Some brokers can help optimise the exchange rate you achieve.
Key Currency is a leading currency broker offering great exchange rates, no fees on transfers and hands-on help to our customers.
The cost of our service is included in the rate we quote. There are no additional fees or charges you need to worry about.
As a company, we are open and transparent.
We don't hide behind a logo or app.
The names, faces and backgrounds of our team are shown on our website.
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 feel our service could be of use to you, please request a free quote below.