Wire and Remittance Transfers

NCUA’s latest Consumer Report, educates consumers on their rights and protections when sending money internationally

What is a wire or money transfer?

Have you ever sent money quickly to a family, friend, or business? Chances are you did so through a wire (money) transfer.

The term “wire transfer” is often used to refer to any electronic transfer of money from one person to another. The term “wire transfer” also has a more narrow technical meaning, referring to one certain method of transferring funds, which usually involves an electronic transfer of funds from one credit union or bank account to another.

In general, wire transfers that are made by consumers from the United States to other countries are considered "remittance transfers" under federal law. 

Sending a Wire Transfer

If you want to wire money, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Contact your financial institution to find out how to wire transfer money; 
  • Find out if there is a fee;
  • Make sure your account has the funds ready;
  • Get recipient/payee information;
  • Submit instructions to your financial institution; and 
  • Confirm that your request was received and verify the transfer was completed.

Domestic Wires

A domestic wire transfer is a type of electronic transfer that sends money from one location within a specific country to a different location in that same country. This is in contrast to an international wire transfer in which money is moved between two points that are located in different countries. Domestic wire transfers are typically simple to use and make it possible for the funds to be available to the recipient almost immediately.

Remittances (International Wire Transfers)

Each year, consumers in the United States send tens of billions of dollars to friends, family members or businesses in other countries via remittance transfers—also known as “international wires” or “international money transfers.”

As with any product or service, there are fees, taxes, and other costs associated with conducting the transaction. Many states have consumer protection laws in place to help monitor and ensure proper disclosure of these costs. However, international money transfers have fallen largely outside the scope of federal consumer protection laws. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act expanded the Electronic Fund Transfer Act to establish minimum federal consumer protections for remittances.

Know Your Rights

The rules issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) went into effect October 2013, providing new rights for consumers related to:

  • Seeing more information about the transfer; 
  • Resolving complaints or mistakes; and 
  • Canceling transfers after they've been requested.

Which Transactions Are Covered?

Remittance transfers that are:

  • More than $15;
  • Made by a consumer in the United States;
  • Sent to a person or company in a foreign country;
  • Made from a consumer account set up primarily for personal, family, or household purposes; or
  • Sent using a financial institution or company that provided more than 100 remittance transfers in the previous year or in the current year.

Below you will find more details on these new consumer protections so you can start sending money abroad with more confidence.


The disclosures must contain:

  • The amount of money to be transferred;
  • The exchange rate that will be used when converting the money to the foreign currency;
  • Fees and taxes associated with the transaction;
  • The amount of money expected to be received abroad, not including certain fees charged to the recipient or foreign taxes; and
  • If applicable, a statement that additional fees and foreign taxes may apply.

Companies must also provide a receipt that repeats the information in the first disclosure or a proof of payment. The receipt must also tell a consumer additional information, including the date when the money will arrive and how the consumer can report a problem with a transfer.

Other Protections


  • Consumers may cancel a transfer and receive a full refund, generally as long as the request is made within 30 minutes of completing the transaction request. To cancel a transfer the service provider must be able to identify the sender and the transaction information. The funds must not have been picked up by the designated recipient or deposited into that person’s account.

Transfer Errors:

  • Companies must investigate when a consumer reports a problem with a transfer. For certain errors, consumers can receive a refund or resend the transfer free of charge if the money did not arrive as promised. It’s generally best to report a problem to the provider as soon as possible; however you will have up to 180 days to do so.

Video: Money Wiring Scams (FTC)

Related Resources:

(Updated 7/12/2016)