The Cheapest Way to Repatriate Funds From Abroad

February 3rd, 2016 - Posted by in Blog

Repatriating money from abroad could be an intimidating process, especially since it is done in conjunction to additional relocation tasks such as shipping one’s belongings overseas, and finding a new place to reside in.

Those who never experienced the burdens of relocation may assume financial issues are somewhat seamless, while they most certainly aren’t. Not only funds should be moved from Point A to Point B, they should be exchanged, in whole or partially, to Point B’s local currency.

Thoughtlessness and laziness in that regard could lead to a waste of money. Banks are notorious for high fees incurred in such a process, and are also unable to support you with protection from currency volatility, and thus – transferring money through them means you are doing so without strategizing nor hedging, and you can potentially lose a significant portion of your savings if the market moves against you.

For those who are transferring smaller sums of money, it might not be worth the hassle. When you repatriate your entire savings from abroad, or move them there, you could be saving thousands in FX fees, and that is definitely worth looking into.

What to do in order to repatriate funds efficiently from overseas?

  1. Get a quote from your bank. Understand the bottom line dollar (or Euro, or pound) figure you will receive at the end of the transfer and don’t fall for blank statements like “no commission” or “no fees”. Take the bank’s quote and compare it directly with Google’s currency services. This will tell you about the bank’s expected fees. Be always sceptical of that quote, as banks tend to incorporate additional unannounced fees when the moment of truth comes.
  2. Collect a list reliable money transfer commercial services you’d like to approach. The optimal number is 2 or 3. These are companies that trade in large volumes for many years, have high profile corporate clients, dozens of offices across the globe, and of course authorised by the FCA to operate as payment providers. Two very good firms to consider are World First and OFX (previously, OzForex).
  3. Sign up with the companies. Get assigned with a dedicated certified account dealer that can give your his interpretation of the markets, and tell you when he believes is the optimal timing for you to make the currency exchange. In parallel, get a quote for an immediate transfer (just to get an indication of the prices) – make sure your currency dealer knows you are comparing between several firms and that price is an important factor for you.
  4. Decide. The first decision to be made is when would be the right time for you to exchange money. After you have spoken to several currency experts, it’s time for you to use your own judgement and decide which one made the best impression on you. If you have decided to transfer the funds on an immediate basis, go to a second round of quoting with the companies offering you the best rates. Try to haggle them in order to achieve even better rates than you’ve been offered with. If you decide to transfer at a later time, you can ask a certain dealer (or several dealers) to set up a limit order for you i.e. to have him or them call you when the rate reaches a certain point you’re happy with.

How much effort is required in order to do all of the above?

There’s some trouble involved with this process. Since currency transfer firms have to comply with the Anti Money Laundering Act, you will have to provide some details and copies of your utility bills in order to sign up unless you’re a UK resident (and then, they can match your details with their database without forcing you to send in any documents).

After you’ve signed up with the firms, you can view their quotes online through a trading system without needing to call anyone. You can book a transfer on your own, set a limit order, or set up a regular transfer that will trigger every month.

Why should I bother?

Going outside the traditional banking system is something most people would not even consider. This is exactly the reason why banks can “afford” to charge such ridiculous fees on activities that cost them very little in labour, and even less than that in actual costs. It is guaranteed you will pay much less in fees if you would repatriate or send your money through a commercial company.

Secondly, you will get free currency consultancy which will focus on your individual needs while banks won’t provide that. As a client of any FX company you will get access to an array of hedging tools like forward contracts which are not available through banks, at least for retail clients. This can help you eliminate any worries relating to foreign currencies, and mitigate risks.

Bottom line

Let the currency experts take them worries off your shoulder and save you money while you can focus on other relocations tasks. Don’t let fear and worry of the unknown stop you from doing what’s right for your personal finances.


  • Michael Foote

    Hi, I work as an independent currency adviser. We offer a free service for individuals looking for currency exchange advice.

    WorldFirst are a good company to go for and we can help with others too.

    To get in contact email me mfoote@rtwbrokers.co.uk


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