SBI international money transfer: Your full guide

Aman Saxena

Whether you are sending money to a loved one in India, or receiving money internationally through State Bank of India (SBI), you should know all about how it is done, what are the charges, and the time taken for the transfer.

When sending money to India, it may also be worthwhile to consider Wise - a faster alternative which can help you save.

Table of contents

How to Remit to India with SBI

There are several options to send money to India, including bank and wire transfers, online money transfer services or exchange houses. Many people send or remit money to India for:

  • Maintaining or opening NRI accounts.
  • Family support.
  • Personal savings or investments.
  • Tuition payments.
  • Medical procedures.
  • Gifts.

SBI provides instructions for some options for NRIs or others to consider when sending money to India. ¹

International Wire Transfer to SBI Account in India

International wire transfers are a popular way to send money globally. While more modern services provide cheaper or faster methods, wire transfers are available to complete bank-to-bank deposits. With a wire transfer at a bank, you can send money directly from your account to an account in India.

Most banks are part of the global SWIFT network which makes the wire transfer possible. You should be able to complete it online with your local bank or at a bank branch. Transfers can take up to five business days.

If required, you can provide SBI’s correspondent bank list to help make the transfer, although most transfers don’t ask for a correspondent bank these days.

One thing to watch out for is the fees. Wire transfers tend to include a service free from the bank for completing the transfer and a hidden exchange rate fee. Banks can inflate the exchange rate you get on the transfer to tuck away another fee on every dollar or euro you convert. This mark-up can seem small, but it adds up.

Shop around and consider modern transfer services that may offer cheaper transfers to India, without the hidden fees.

Account Holder of SBI International Branches

If you are an NRI with a SBI account, you can go to a SBI international bank branchto make a transfer to your or your family’s accounts in India. SBI has 22 branches around the world, and you can get help with online banking, making a transfer or general NRI services.

Each country will have their own fees for a transfer. For instance, a SBI branch in the U.S. charges $5 USD for transfers below $999 USD, and the transfer fee is zero above that amount. Keep an eye on the exchange rate and compare it to the rate you see on Google in case there is a hidden fee or markup. The minimum amount you can send from the U.S. with an SBI branch is $100 USD. ²

Through Exchange Houses in the Middle East

NRIs living in the Middle East can send money to India using one of the local exchange houses. The exchange housesthat are tied up with SBI are available in:³

  • UAE.
  • Qatar.
  • Kuwait.
  • Bahrain.
  • Oman.
  • Saudi Arabia.

The exchange house will complete the transfer and you can generally expect to pay a transfer and an exchange rate fee.

Through Remitly

SBI has partnered with the online money transfer service Remitly to help make sending money to India easier. With Remitly, you can send money in nine different currencies including:

  • US dollars.
  • British pounds.
  • Euros.
  • Singapore dollars.

If you choose this option for sending money, it is Remitly that will complete the transfer- not SBI. You can send money through the Remitly websiteor mobile app. ⁴

While you can expect an exchange rate fee, some transfers may not have a transfer or service fee depending on the amount you are sending.

🔎 Got questions on how to send money with Remitly? Check out our complete guide to Remitly Money Transfers to India.

Receive international funds with SBI

You can send and receive money internationally through SBI accounts using any of the methods described below.

How to receive international money transfers with SBI

Funds can be received into Indian bank accounts through SBI Express Remit, demand drafts, wire transfers, Western Union transfers, and personal cheques.

SBI Express Remit

SBI Express Remit is available across most countries and is an easy method of sending small-value funds to India, either to your own account or the account of a relative, a friend, or any individual in India. It is not necessary for either the sender or the receiver to maintain an SBI bank account for international transfers through Express Remit. Express Remit does not allow transfers to non-individual accounts¹.

To send the money, the sender has to register on the SBI Express Remit website. After registration, the sender can, at any time, login and transfer funds to India. The entire process is managed by SBI, which will first transfer money to its UK account, and then transfer the funds in Indian Rupees to the Indian bank account.

Though this is an efficient method and may seem cost-effective, it is best to compare the foreign exchange rates and charges levied by the bank. We will touch upon these charges in detail a little further in this guide and how you can benefit from comparing rates before your transfers.

SBI Demand Draft (DD)

DDs can be created in either the foreign currency or Indian rupees. You can obtain the DD either in your own name or in the name of any other beneficiary. The DD then has to be deposited in the Indian branch where you or the beneficiary holds an account. Currency conversion charges may be applied if the DD is issued in a foreign currency². SBI applies the prevailing exchange rates and also levy collection charges. These charges are further subject to service taxes as applicable.

DDs are a cost-effective method of transferring funds internationally through SBI, however, it takes a much longer time as there is a need to send the physical copy of the DD to India. There is also a risk of the DD getting lost in the post³.

SBI Wire Transfer

You can send funds to your beneficiary's account in India from your overseas bank account through SWIFT network. You have to mention the following details to your bank for international transfer to Indian bank account²:

  1. SWIFT code
    • For money transfers up to USD 10,000 or equivalent: SBININBBFXD
    • For money transfers more than USD 10,000 or equivalent: SWIFT code of home branch of the beneficiary. In case the home branch does not have a SWIFT code, mention SWIFT code of any link branch or an SBI branch nearby in the same city/ state.
  2. Beneficiary’s bank account number
    This bank account number is an 11 digit number with initial digit as non-zero. If asked, mention International Bank Account Number (IBAN) without any prefix or suffix SWIFT/ IFSC code in the IBAN field.
  3. SBI branch code/ IFSC code
    For banks other than SBI, mention beneficiary’s existing CBS account number, bank name with branch and IFSC Code
  4. Beneficiary’s full name and complete address
  5. Remitter’s full name, address and account number
  6. Purpose of remittance
  7. Details of correspondent or intermediary bank
    In case remitting bank is not a direct correspondent of SBI

SBI money transfers may seem cheaper at first, but these prices don’t include SWIFT fees – which could cost you an additional $15-$45 on each transfer, explained further in this guide.

Western Union (WU)

SBI allows inward remittance deposited in overseas offices/ locations of WU. This method of receiving funds through SBI have some limitations as per the RBI guidelines⁴:

  • Only personal remittances are allowed under this method. Donations/ contributions to charitable institutions/ trusts, trade-related remittances, remittance towards purchase of property, investments or credit to NRE accounts cannot be made through WU transfers.
  • The maximum amount that can be sent through WU payable by cash is set at USD 2,500 or ₹50,000. Any higher amount will be paid by the way of account payee cheque/ demand draft/ payment order or credited directly to the beneficiary's bank account only. However, in exceptional circumstances, where the beneficiary is a foreign tourist, higher amounts may be paid in cash.
  • Only 30 remittances can be received by a single individual beneficiary under the scheme during a calendar year.

Western Union transfers are a popular way of receiving funds from overseas, but it may not be the cheapest. To get the most out of your money transfers abroad, make sure to compare providers vs Wise's exchange rates and transfer fees.

SBI Personal Cheque

This is the traditional and perhaps an inefficient method of international remittance. You can draw a personal cheque on your foreign bank account in either Indian rupees or foreign currency and deposit it in the Indian branch where you hold an account through messenger or post or courier. This cheque is then sent for collection to the foreign bank and once cleared, it is deposited into your Indian bank account. The time taken depends on the country and the bank on which the cheque is drawn. The currency conversion rate prevailing on the date of conversion will be applicable².

Charges and fees for receiving money internationally with SBI

SBI international money transfer charges for various methods of remittance have been given below⁵ ⁶. Banks like SBI also charge extra over the real exchange rate, which may add significantly to the overall cost of your transfer. Note that the charges mentioned below can change over time and location.

Method of Remittance Charges
Express Remit ₹250/-
Demand Draft 0.30% of the amount, with a minimum of ₹300/-
Wire Transfer Current TT buying rate + exchange margin @0.125% + interest @ 15% (depending on bank branch)
Western Union No charges for the receiver
Personal Cheque Current T.T. buying rate + exchange margin @0.125% + interest @15% + ₹100

Goods and services tax (GST) as applicable will be levied over and above the charges specified.

GST for conversion of foreign currency to Indian currency or vice-versa was revised by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance with effect from 1st July 2017. The revised tax rates are as follows⁷:

  • Up to ₹1,00,000: 1% of the gross amount of currency exchanged for an amount of ₹1,00,000, subject to minimum of ₹250/-
  • From ₹1,00,001 to ₹10,00,000: ₹1000 plus 0.5% of the gross amount of currency exchanged for an amount of rupees exceeding ₹1,00,000 and up to 10,00,000
  • Above ₹10,00,000: ₹5,000 Plus 0.10% of the Gross amount of currency exchanged for an amount of rupees exceeding ₹10,00,000 subject to Maximum amount of ₹60,000/-

How much time does it take?

Time taken for SBI remit depends on the method of transfer used. The table below gives the estimated time taken for each kind of transfer.³ ⁸ ⁹

Method of transfer Time Taken
Express Remit 1 - 3 business days
Demand Draft 7 - 28 days
Wire Transfer 1 - 2 business days
Western Union 1 - 2 days
Personal Cheque 10 - 60 days

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Send money abroad with SBI

Sending money from India to other countries is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the Liberalized Remittance Facility for Resident Indians, which permits forex outward remittance up to USD 250,000 per financial year subject to certain restrictions⁹.

How to send money abroad with SBI

To send money abroad with SBI, you have to be a customer of the bank for a minimum of one year and your account should be KYC compliant with PAN number updated in the account. You should also have transaction rights activated on your internet banking account. There are two methods for sending money abroad with SBI– FXOUT and REMXOUT¹¹.

FXOUT

FXOUT facility is available across all SBI branches in the country. Both residents and NRIs can use this facility. You can transfer up to USD 25,000 per transaction subject to a maximum of USD 250,000 in a financial year. If you are an NRI, a limit of INR 2,000,000 is applicable per transaction. To transfer money using FXOUT, you have to visit your SBI home branch with details of the beneficiary. Transfers can be made in USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, SGD, CAD and 91 miscellaneous currencies.

REMXOUT

REMXOUT is available only to the retail internet banking users of RBI through SBI online. The limit for REMXOUT is USD 5000 or equivalent per transaction subject to a maximum of USD 250,000 per financial year. REMXOUT is available only in limited currencies – USD, GBP, and EUR.

How to add international beneficiary in SBI

To add an international beneficiary, follow the below process¹²

  • Log into your SBI account
  • Click on ‘manage beneficiary’ and then click on ‘international beneficiary’
  • Provide beneficiary details like name, bank account number, and SWIFT code and click register
  • You will receive an OTP. Enter the OTP to register the beneficiary
  • Next, approve the beneficiary. Click on the ‘approve now’ link. There are 2 ways to do this – OTP approval and branch approval
    • OTP approval takes between 4 hours to 1 day. If you select this method, you will receive an OTP on the mobile number linked to your SBI account. Enter the OTP and the beneficiary will be approved.
    • If you choose branch approval, you have to visit the nearest SBI branch and provide the details. The beneficiary will be approved immediately.

Send money to beneficiary

You can transfer the money internationally once the beneficiary is activated. To do this:

  • Log in to your SBI account
  • Select ‘International funds transfer’ under the payments/ transfers tab
  • Remittance application form for fund transfer request will come up. Fill the form and submit it.

SBI international transfer charges and fees

Method of Remittance Charges⁶
Outward remittances from NRE or FCNR (B) account through SWIFT/ Wire transfer Nil
Foreign currency outward remittances from NRO account through SWIFT/ Wire transfer ₹100/- + actual out of pocket expenses for postage, courier and telegram charges
Rupee outward remittance 0.125% of the remittance amount, with minimum of ₹ 125/-

Goods and services tax (GST) as applicable will be levied over and above the charge specified.

How much time does it take?

SBI international fund transfers using FXOUT and REMXOUT are generally deposited in the beneficiary’s bank account within 2 to 7 working days.

Check status of money transfer

You can follow the below steps to check the status of the money transfer:

  • Log into your SBI account
  • Click on ‘Enquires’ tab and then ‘Status Enquiry’
  • Enter the date on which the transfer was made.
  • The list of transfers made on that date is displayed along with the reference id, transfer type and the status of the transaction
  • If you need more details about the transaction, click on the transaction reference of the relevant transaction.

The true cost of international transfers with SBI

Speed, efficiency, and cost are the most important considerations while sending or receiving money abroad. Though the charges mentioned by SBI may seem low, but it when you take into account the higher foreign exchange (forex) rate used by SBI, the costs can rack up very quickly.

When you google a particular forex rate, the rate displayed is called the mid-market rate, which is the real currency exchange rate at that moment. But this is not the rate that is given to you by SBI when you initiate the transfer. This high exchange rate can add significantly to the overall costs of your money transfer.

A cheap, fast, and transparent alternative: Wise

Want to send fast transfers to India? Meet Wise. It is a low-cost and convenient way to send money to a local bank account. And money on popular transfer routes to India can arrive in a local bank account within a few minutes.

Wise

Wise uses smart tech to make transfers secure and fast. With an easy-to-use website and an award-winning app, you can make transfers right from your home or mobile.

Transfers come with just one low upfront fee and no exchange rate fee. That’s right, you get the exchange rate you see on Google with no mark-up. So you can send more to your loved ones at home.

Services like Wise use secure, smart technology to connect bank accounts all over the world, and transfer money faster and at low cost. Wise offers mid-market rates (as usually seen on Google) and a low, fixed transparent fee that is clearly mentioned.

Send money to India with Wise 👉


Please see the Terms and Conditions for your region and visit our pricing page for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information on Wise products.

Sources used for this article

  1. SBI Express Remit
  2. SBI NRI Remittance
  3. Procedure for collection of international funds
  4. SBI Western Union money transfer
  5. SBI ForEx service charges
  6. SBI NRI services
  7. SBI online remit
  8. SBI NRI remittances
  9. Western Union
  10. RBI FAQ
  11. SBI international remittance
  12. SBI forex outward

*All sources checked on 2nd January, 2020


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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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