Sending gifts or merchandise to a foreign country means packing your goods, creating a label, and using the post office or a private delivery service such as FedEx or DHL. Sending money overseas involves a transfer through a secure channel such as a bank wire or MoneyGram. There are several commercial providers for this service.
Visit your local bank and request a bank wire transfer. The bank will take your name and contact information, as well as the recipient's. The bank uses a code known as a SWIFT number to designate the sending institution and the currency (U.S. or foreign). The SWIFT network links banks, investment companies and brokerages around the world, allowing them to work together over computer and communication networks. You must have the name of the receiving bank and the receiving account number. Your bank, as well as that of the recipient, will charge a fee for the service; the receiving bank may also charge a commission on the exchange of your dollars into the local currency.
Go online to a commercial money-transfer service, such as Western Union or PayPal. You must provide a source of funds, which will be either an electronic check drawn on your bank account, or a credit/debit card. Enter the amount of the transfer, the name of the recipient and the destination country. The online system will give you an exchange rate for dollars into the local currency, and also charge a fee. Once the transaction is complete, the service will provide you a money control number (for Western Union), which the recipient can use to pick up the money at a local bank. PayPal can make transfers directly into the recipient's bank account, if the recipient has set up a PayPal account. PayPal, Western Union and other services also offer money-transfer mobile apps you can access on your smartphone.
Visit a local agent who provides services through a money-transfer agent. You can locate MoneyGram or Western Union agents by going online to the company websites, or contacting them over the phone. You can find money-transfer kiosks or counters in banks, grocery stores, airports, check-cashing sites and other outlets. The clerk will provide you with a reference number to provide to the recipient, who uses the number to pick up the cash at a local agent. There is a fee for the service, as well as a dollar limit on transfers.
- Western Union, MoneyGram and other transfer services are also available by phone. The U.S. Postal Service also provides a money-transfer service known as SureMoney.
- Xoom and Viamerica are not as well-known than the two major money-transfer companies, Western Union and MoneyGram, but offer lower fees and costs to both sender and recipient. Keep in mind, however, that cheaper doesn't always mean you get the same level of service and security.
- Money transfers can also be done by pre-paid debit cards. You recharge the card through the issuer, using your own source of funds, and the recipient (who has the card) can then use the card to make purchases or withdraw money at an ATM.
- Don't send money through the mail, in any form. Cashier's checks and money orders can usually travel safely by private courier, but insure the delivery against loss or theft.
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