How to Transfer Millions of Dollars Internationally in 2023

Perhaps you are moving overseas or you’re purchasing an overseas property. Whatever your reasons are for needing to transfer millions of dollars internationally it’s important to understand the best options. Whilst your first response may be to turn to your trusted bank to assist with your transfer this is certainly not the best option when it comes to transferring large sums of money. It will cost you a pretty penny in transaction fees and their exchange rates won’t even come close to the mid-market rate either.

Not only is the security of your funds a concern but you will need to consider the exchange rates, fees, and transfer times too.

By using a specialist money transfer service you will be able to secure much more competitive exchange rates and generally zero-transfer fees too. These savings can be well into the thousands of dollars when it comes to six-figure transfers.

Options for Transferring Millions of Dollars:

1. Bank-to-Bank Transfer:

The vast majority of banks will provide a service to transfer money from one bank account to another. This can generally be arranged via your online banking portal, over the phone or even in person at your local branch.

Whilst banks can provide foreign exchange services their poor exchange rates and high fees make them the most expensive option.

2. Wire Transfers:

International wire transfers are another viable option for transferring large sums of money between bank accounts. Once again, this generally involves working with your local bank to facilitate the transaction and the usual requirement is for this to be done in person too. Wire transfers provide more protection compared with a simple bank-to-bank transfer but there is a wire transfer fee for this service though. As you are facilitating the transfer via your bank you will generally not be able to access competitive exchange rates.

3. Automated Clearing House Transactions:

Automated Clearing House Transactions (ACH) are similar to bank-to-bank and wire transfers. Whilst there are no fees for this service both banks will need to have a relationship and be linked together. ACH transactions are completed electronically but an intermediary cleaning house processes the actual transaction exchange.

4. Cash-to-Cash Transfers:

It is also possible to transfer millions of dollars in cash by utilizing an international money transfer center. Organizations like Western Union, Ria Money Transfer, and MoneyGram provide this service. These companies have thousands of local branches around the world. Their exchange rates and fees will not be as competitive as using a dedicated money transfer operator though. They also cannot provide FX advisory services too.

5. Specialist Money Transfer Services:

Our personal recommendation is to use a specialist currency broker for your international money transfer. We recommend Currencies Direct which offers bank-beating exchange rates, zero-fee transfers are personal expert currency support to guide you through the entire process. We do not recommend peer-to-peer providers like TransferWise for large transfers as they simply don’t have the level of personal support that a dedicated currency broker can offer.

Expert Advice for Large Money Transfers: Comparing Providers

  • Understand the exchange rate: It’s important to carefully review the exchange rate you have been quoted as this can vary significantly between providers. Generally, a dedicated currency broker will offer the most competitive exchange rate.
  • Security: You want to ensure you’re only working with a licensed money transfer operator. Carefully review their accreditations and affiliations. In the UK the governing authority is the FCA and FinCEN in the US.
  • Service reviews: Reading online reviews will provide you with an overview of the services’ reputation.
  • Tax considerations: You will need to do your homework and understand how taxes may affect your international transfer. Local tax regulations will apply to the recipient of the funds too.

Managing Currency Fluctuations and Risk

Currency fluctuations can significantly impact the value of your international money transfer, particularly when transferring millions of dollars. To safeguard your funds from unpredictable exchange rate movements, consider incorporating risk management strategies into your transfer plan. Here are a few methods to help mitigate currency risks:

  • Forward Contracts: A forward contract allows you to lock in an exchange rate for a future transfer, typically ranging from a few days to a year in advance. By securing a rate, you can eliminate uncertainty and ensure that you know the exact cost of your transfer, regardless of future market fluctuations.
  • Currency Options: Currency options grant you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a specific amount of foreign currency at a predetermined exchange rate on or before a specified date. This flexibility can protect you from adverse exchange rate movements while still allowing you to benefit from favorable changes.
  • Limit Orders: A limit order enables you to specify a desired exchange rate for your transfer. If the market rate reaches your target, your money transfer provider will automatically execute the transaction. This strategy can help you achieve a better rate than what’s currently available, but it requires patience and a willingness to wait for the right market conditions.
  • Regular Transfers: If you plan to make multiple transfers over time, you can use a regular transfer plan with a money transfer provider. These plans often allow you to lock in an exchange rate for a set period, providing some protection against currency fluctuations.

Remember that each of these risk management strategies comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Before deciding on an approach, carefully consider your specific needs, financial goals, and tolerance for risk. Consulting with a currency specialist or financial advisor may also be beneficial in determining the most suitable strategy for your situation.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Compliance Requirements

When transferring large amounts of money internationally, it is essential to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and provide the necessary documentation. Understanding and adhering to these requirements can help ensure a smooth transfer process and prevent potential delays or legal complications. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Know Your Customer (KYC) Procedures: Money transfer providers are required to follow KYC procedures to verify the identity of their customers. This process typically involves providing personal identification documents such as a passport, driver’s license, or national ID card. Additionally, you may be asked to supply proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement.
  • Source of Funds: For large transfers, you may need to provide information on the source of the funds being transferred. This could include documents related to a property sale, inheritance, business transaction, or other financial activities. Providing clear and accurate information on the origin of your funds can help prevent delays or issues with your transfer.
  • Transaction Purpose: Money transfer providers may ask you to clarify the purpose of your transfer, particularly for large transactions. Be prepared to provide details on the reasons for your transfer, such as property investment, business expansion, or repatriating savings.
  • Reporting Requirements: Depending on the jurisdictions involved and the amount being transferred, you may be subject to reporting requirements. In the United States, for example, transfers of $10,000 or more must be reported to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Familiarize yourself with the reporting requirements in both the sending and receiving countries to ensure compliance.
  • Sanctions and Watchlists: Money transfer providers are obligated to screen their customers against various sanctions lists and watchlists to prevent illegal activities, such as financing terrorism or money laundering. Make sure you’re aware of any potential issues related to the countries or individuals involved in your transfer.

By understanding and adhering to AML and compliance requirements, you can help ensure a seamless transfer process and avoid potential complications. If you’re uncertain about any aspect of these requirements, consult with a financial advisor or legal professional for guidance.

Transfer Limits and Additional Verification for Large Transfers

When transferring millions of dollars internationally, you may encounter transfer limits imposed by different service providers or additional verification steps required for large transfers. Understanding these factors can help you better navigate the transfer process:

  • Transfer Limits: Banks and money transfer providers may have daily, weekly, or monthly transfer limits in place, which can vary depending on the provider and the method of transfer. For instance, while some online transfer services may have a maximum limit per transaction, others might require you to split the transfer into multiple transactions over a period of time.
  • Additional Verification: For large transfers, service providers may require additional verification to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and mitigate fraud risks. This can include providing more extensive documentation, such as proof of the source of funds, purpose of the transfer, and information about the recipient.
  • Escalation Procedures: In some cases, large transactions may be flagged for further review by a service provider’s compliance team. This can result in delays or additional requests for information. If your transfer is time-sensitive, it’s essential to factor in the potential for escalation and allow for extra time to complete the transfer process.
  • Choosing the Right Provider: When transferring large amounts, it’s crucial to select a service provider with experience handling sizable transactions and the ability to navigate any additional requirements or limitations. Research various providers, and compare their services, fees, transfer limits, and customer reviews to determine the best fit for your needs.
  • Communicate with Your Provider: Keep an open line of communication with your chosen money transfer provider to ensure that they are aware of your needs and any potential complexities surrounding your transaction. This can help minimize delays and ensure a smooth transfer process.

By understanding transfer limits and additional verification requirements, you can better prepare for the process of transferring millions of dollars internationally and select a provider that meets your specific needs.

Potential Tax Implications of Large International Transfers

When transferring millions of dollars internationally, it’s essential to consider potential tax implications for both the sender and the recipient. Tax liabilities and reporting requirements can vary depending on the countries involved and the nature of the transfer. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Sender’s Tax Liabilities: Depending on the jurisdiction, the sender may be required to pay taxes on the funds being transferred. For example, in the United States, gift taxes may apply if you are transferring a large sum of money to someone abroad without receiving anything in return. Consult with a tax professional to understand any potential tax liabilities associated with your transfer.
  • Recipient’s Tax Liabilities: In some cases, the recipient of the funds may also be subject to taxes on the transferred amount. This can include income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax, depending on the nature of the transfer and the recipient’s tax residency. It’s essential for the recipient to consult with a local tax professional to ensure compliance with their jurisdiction’s tax regulations.
  • Reporting Requirements: Both the sender and the recipient may be subject to reporting requirements for large international transfers. In the United States, for example, individuals must report transfers of $10,000 or more to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Be sure to research the reporting requirements in both the sending and receiving countries to maintain compliance.
  • Tax Treaties and Double Taxation Agreements: Many countries have tax treaties or double taxation agreements in place to prevent taxpayers from being taxed on the same income in both countries. These agreements can help minimize your tax burden when transferring large sums of money internationally. Consult with a tax professional to understand how these treaties may apply to your specific situation.
  • Tax Planning Strategies: Proper tax planning can help you minimize your tax liabilities when transferring millions of dollars abroad. Work with a tax advisor or financial planner to develop strategies that take into account your unique financial situation, the countries involved, and the nature of your transfer.

Common Reasons for Transferring Millions of Dollars Abroad

1. Property Sale:

Buying or selling a home is one of the most common reasons for transferring millions of dollars overseas. Whether your moving overseas and need to purchase a home or are buying an overseas investment property you will likely need to transfer a significant sum of money.

2. Inheritance:

Repatriating an inheritance is another common reason you will find yourself needing to transfer large sums of money and you will want to ensure you secure the best exchange rate possible for your hard-earned nest egg.

3. Overseas Investment:

You may find yourself starting a new business if you’ve moved abroad and may require a large initial capital outlay which will involve a large transfer of money.

4. Savings or pension:

If you’re moving abroad you will likely want to transfer your savings and/or pension abroad at some stage. The exchange rate will be of utmost importance to you and this is where a dedicated money transfer agency can really help you.

5. Obtaining residency:

In many countries, you can obtain a residence visa by investing in the country. New Zealand’s Active Investor Plus is a great example of this. There are many other countries offering very similar investor visa programs too.

To obtain residency via the Active Investor Plus visa you will need to invest between NZ$5 million and NZ$15 million dollars into New Zealand over four years and maintain the investment for a fourth year.

More details can be found at Invest New Zealand.

Security When Transferring Millions of Dollars Overseas

As mentioned earlier security is a top-priority when it comes to transferring large sums of money abroad. You will want to work with a licensed and accredited international money transfer operator to ensure complete peace of mind. Our recommended provider, Currencies Direct, holds the appropriate licences for each country it operates in which include the following:

  1. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – they are authorised and regulated by the FCA under registration number 900669, allowing them to provide financial services in the UK.
  2. Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) – they are registered with FINTRAC as a money service business. This accreditation allows them to provide money transfer services in Canada.
  3. Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) – they are licensed by ASIC to operate as a financial services provider in Australia.
  4. Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) – they are registered with the FIU as a money service provider in Malta.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long does it take to transfer a million dollars?

Transferring a million dollars will take around one to five days, depending on which transfer method has been chosen i.e. bank-to-bank transfer, wire transfer, ACH transfer or peer-to-peer service.

How much does it cost to transfer a million dollars?

The overall cost will vary depending on which transfer method you use but it will be determined by the exchange rate and transfer fees.

What is the maximum amount you can transfer internationally?

While there are no limits on the amount of money you can send you may be limited by daily limits though. These limits generally don’t apply when using a money transfer operator though.

Do I need to pay taxes when transferring large sums of money?

Whether you need to pay taxes on the money transferred will depend on your specific circumstances. We recommended you check with local tax authorities.

What documentation is required for a large money transfer?

The documentation required will depend on the reason for your transfer. Whether your transfer is for a property sale, inheritance, salary, investment, loan, or something else. You will generally also require bank statements though.

What is the best way to transfer 1 million dollars internationally?

Our recommendation is to use a specialist money transfer company as this will provide you with the best exchange rates, zero-transfer fees, and personal service throughout every stage of the transfer. Our personal recommendation is Currencies Direct.

by Maiane Cassanego
Maiane is the Founder of Expat Frontier. She is fluent in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Maiane has an extensive background in international moving, freight forwarding and logistics.