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What is a remittance transfer?

Federal law defines “remittance transfers” to include most electronic money transfers from consumers in the United States through “remittance transfer providers” to recipients abroad.

Remittance transfers are commonly known as “international wires,” “international money transfers,” or “remittances.” Under federal law, remittance transfers do not include transfers of less than $15.

Certain federal protections apply if you send money abroad

Under federal law, many money transmitters, banks and credit unions and possibly other types of financial services companies qualify as “remittance transfer providers.” They must generally provide consumers certain information before they make remittance transfers. This includes information about:

  • The exchange rate.
  • Fees and taxes they collect from you.
  • Fees charged by the company’s agents abroad and certain other institutions involved in the transfer process.
  • The amount of money expected to be delivered, not including foreign taxes or certain fees charged to the recipient.
  • If appropriate, a statement that additional foreign taxes and fees may be deducted from the remittance transfer.

You also must receive information about when the money will be available, instructions on your right to cancel transfers, what to do in case of an error, and how to submit a complaint.

The right to cancel

After paying, you will typically have 30 minutes (and sometimes more) to cancel the transaction at no charge, unless the transfer has already been picked up or deposited into the recipient’s account.

The right to have errors resolved

Remittance providers now must also investigate complaints. If you think a mistake was made and promptly contact the company, it generally has 90 days to investigate the matter and must notify you of the investigation’s results. For certain types of errors, such as if the money never arrives, you may be able to get a refund or have the transfer sent again.

Other protections may be available to you, depending on how you send the money and the laws in your state.