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United Kingdom Online Banking Transfers

In brief: Bank transfers in UK are usually free and take between one and four business days. Bank transfers from UK to Europe cost between £7 - 35, but low-cost options are available. Conversely, bank transfers from Europe to UK are usually free; must be made in Euros with shared costs using BIC + IBAN.

Bank transfers between UK bank accounts are fast, free, secure, and simple to make. Over the counter bank deposits and other payment methods are available to those without access to UK online banking or UK telephone banking.

UK bank transfers: A UK bank transfer or debit payment (sometimes called a bill payment, debit transfer, or bank Giro credit) can be arranged using online or telephone banking, or over the counter at the local branch of your bank.

To make a UK bank transfer to someone - you need: the recipient’s bank, sort code, account number and account name e.g. NatWest 60-12-34 01234567 Ms Jane Smyth. These same details are printed on all UK personal cheques and, in the absence of a valid signature, password or PIN, cannot be used to withdraw funds from a UK bank account. An optional payment reference can be added along with your details when making a bank transfer.

UK bank deposits: Cash or cheques can be deposited over the counter at the nearest UK branch of the recipient’s bank free of charge - useful if you don't yourself have a bank account. Deposits and credits can also be made at other UK banks, but may incur a bank charge. Cheques can be deposited by mailing them direct to the recipient’s bank branch and including the recipient’s account details.

Postal Money Orders, available at most UK Post Offices, can also be deposited to UK bank accounts. However, as they are not cleared through BACS, postal money orders may take up to five business days to be credited to a bank account.

UK bank clearance times: Transfers between accounts at the same UK bank are often credited immediately or within that business day; funds are transferred via that bank’s internal network. Transfers between accounts at different UK banks usually require between one and four business days to be credited; funds are transferred via the BACS inter-bank network. Telephone or online banking transfers made during the weekend or over banking holidays are usually processed the next business day and are credited in the same timeframe. Pending inter-bank transfers can usually be reversed by the sender up to the moment they are credited to the recipient’s bank account.

Cash deposits are usually credited immediately; cheques may take up to three business days to be credited so allow time for bank clearance. It’s recommended you retain the counter receipt as physical proof of payment, especially for cash deposits.

Please contact us if any of these UK online banking links are no longer valid, or you would like more info on UK online banking.

Low-cost International Banking Transfers from UK

Free or low-cost international bank transfers are now available within the EU/EEA under directive 2560/2001 on cross border transfers in Euro. Unfortunately, since the United Kingdom has not yet adopted the Euro as its national currency, this directive only applies to incoming Euro payments from the EU/EEA. To receive a transfer from Europe free of charges; the payment must be sent in Euros, with shared costs and BIC + IBAN details must be provided. In a 2006 survey of UK banks none deducted any fees or charges for incoming Euro payments (except NatWest and RBS who both deducted £1.00 commission).

Fortunately, there are low-cost options available for sending payments from the United Kingdom to the EU, including online payment providers such as MoneyBookers, AuctionChex and Online FX. They offer considerably cheaper and often faster transfers than UK banks, and are EU regulated so they offer more security and safety compared to unregulated (repudiable) electronic payment services such as eBay-owned PayPal.

Here is the official UK Government’s view on cross border Euro payments. The BBC has an excellent in-depth article on why UK to EU transfers are so expensive: often up to 10 times more that Europeans pay for the same cross border Euro transfers.