Sending money abroad

The information in this guide was last updated on 26/02/2014

It’s easy to send your money between your UK bank or building society account and an overseas bank account. So if you want to pay someone in another country for goods or services, here’s a quick guide to the various methods you can use to send money abroad…

What information do I need to make an international payment?

There are various ways of making international payments, but typically you’ll need to have the following information to make a payment overseas:

  • the recipient's full name and address
  • the recipient's IBAN (International Bank Account Number) or account number
  • the name and address of the recipient's bank - including the BIC (Banking Identifier Code) / SWIFT code / clearing code
  • the amount you want to transfer.

These IBAN and BIC/SWIFT codes make international payments faster and more secure. They also help prevent them being rejected, delayed or sent incorrectly. However, an increasing number of countries now require additional information on their payment instruction which needs to be provided by the sender in order for the funds to be successfully credited to the beneficiary’s account.

Note: Use of an IBAN is mandatory when sending Euro payments to countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

What will making an international payment cost?

There are typically two types of cost when transferring money abroad - banking fees and exchange rates differences:


Usually you are charged a fee for international payments and these will differ according to the service used and the bank or building society that is providing the service.

There may also be fees charged by any agent banks involved in the payment transmission before a payment reaches its final destination account.

Exchange rates

If you're sending payments overseas and the recipient’s account is in a foreign currency, you'll need to consider exchange rates for the currency conversion. This will affect what is received by the recipient. Different banks may offer different exchange rates.

Types of international payments

Here are some of the more common international payments offered by banks and building societies:

Swift payments

SWIFT stands for Society of Worldwide InterBank Financial Telecommunications. It’s an automated payment system used to transfer funds between different countries. Provided you have the money in your account you can transfer it via SWIFT.

  • A SWIFT payment within the European Economic Area (EEA) usually takes one working day to reach the destination bank, but payments outside the EEA may take longer
  • The fee for this service may differ between banks, but as an example Nationwide's fee is £20

Single Euro Payments Area

SEPA is a European banking initiative to make electronic payments in euro across the EU as simple as euro payments within the UK. You only need an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and a Business Identifier Code (BIC) to make or receive euro electronic payments.

  • Most SEPA payments reach the destination bank by the end of the next working day. Usually transaction fees for SEPA payments are lower than SWIFT payments
  • Nationwide doesn’t offer SEPA credit transfers as an alternative to the SWIFT service but we are expecting to introduce these in October 2016. Our Irish branch, Nationwide UK Ireland, do already send SEPA credit transfers.

Receiving payments from abroad

To receive a payment from someone outside the UK you’ll need to provide the sender of the payment with your:

  • Your account name
  • BIC, also called the SWIFT address
  • SWIFT Intermediary Bank address
  • IBAN
  • (if you're receiving money into your savings account you will also have to provide an Account Role number).

Typically details of all of the above will be shown on your current account statement or provided upon request by your bank or building society.