International wire regulations: The IRS, limits, laws & your rights

Adam Rozsa

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about international wire transfer reporting requirements and regulations here in this guide.

The IRS does monitor international wire transfers, and that there’s an overseas money transfer limit of $10,000¹ before your transfer will be reported to the IRS.

Before we continue, a quick tip for saving money on wire transfers. Send an international transfer with Wise instead of your bank, and you’ll only pay a small, transparent fee². Plus, you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate, which is the fairest you can get.


📝 Table of Contents

Who regulates international wire transfers in the US?

International transfers from the US over the amount of $15³ are regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

This is an agency whose overall job is to facilitate transparency and fair financial practices, with the aim of protecting consumers.

What regulation applies to wire transfers?

Wire transfers and all other electronic payments in the US are regulated under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), which was first enacted back in 1978⁴. These regulations aim to protect consumers engaging in transfers of electronic funds.

There’s also the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)⁵. This provides regulation for American taxpayers holding money in foreign bank accounts.

2 international wire best way to send

Is there a limit on wire transfers?

Broadly speaking, you can send as much money as you want in either a domestic or international wire transfer. However, your bank may have its own wire transfer limits on how much you can transfer at once, daily or monthly.

How much can you wire transfer without reporting to IRS?

IRS international wire transfer rules are primarily concerned with the reporting of transfers valued at $10,000 or more. Or, with related international wires that add up to at least $10,000 altogether.

Reporting is generally done by the bank or money transfer service to ensure that transfers aren’t connected to illegal activity, such as money laundering or funding crime.

What happens if you wire transfer more than $10,000?

If you send an international wire transfer over $10,000¹, your bank or financial institution is required by law to report it directly to the IRS.

Your bank may also ask for additional information, including the following¹:

  • Evidence for the source of the funds
  • Proof for your wealth - how you generate income more generally
  • Information about the recipient, including proof of ID
  • The primary reason for the transfer.


What’s the best way to send money internationally?

Banks are certainly one option for sending money internationally, as are services like PayPal. But the problem with banks is they can often be slow, expensive and inconvenient. Luckily, there’s a better alternative out there.

You can send money worldwide with Wise for low fees² and the mid-market exchange rate. It’s easy and quick to set up a payment online, and you’re guaranteed secure transfers even when sending large sums.

Wise is regulated by 12 international financial authorities, and uses sophisticated security features to keep you and your money safe.

Open a Wise Account, and you can send, spend and convert between 40+ currencies whenever you need to. You can even receive money from all over the world using your own local account details.

As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a Wise debit card too. For a one-time fee² of just $9, you can spend in over 150 countries in the local currency. Your USD is automatically converted at the mid-market rate, for just a small conversion fee.

Open a Wise Account today

💡 Need to make a business payment? With the Wise Business account, you can send up to 1,000,000 USD per transfer from licensed states.

Some key features of Wise Business include:
  • Better visibility and organization of business finances. This is helpful for account reconciliations and audits
  • Major local account details for a simple one-off fee to receive international payments with ease
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Receive payments from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or via Stripe
  • Create invoices using the free Wise invoice generator or invoice templates
  • Accounting integrations, including a QuickBooks Bill Pay connection
  • Batch payment options. Fast payment of up to 1,000 people

Discover the difference between
Wise Business vs Personal

3 who regulates international wires

Do I have to pay taxes on international wire transfers?

You do need to pay tax on wire transfers sent to a foreign bank account, if the transfer exceeds a certain sum. Any amount over $16,000 sent to a foreign bank account is likely to be considered as a taxable gift by the IRS. However, this may not apply if you’re sending to an overseas account in your own name⁵.

You may also be taxed for sending international wire transfers on behalf of your business⁵.

Tax affairs can be complicated. So, it’s recommended to get specialist tax advice if you’re planning to make a large payment overseas.

What is Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)?

Alongside the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), the other regulation we mentioned above is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

FATCA rules require foreign financial institutions to report on the foreign assets held by US account holders. What it means for individuals is that if you have foreign financial assets of at least $50,000, you must report it to the IRS along with your annual income tax return. There’s a particular form to fill in - Form 8938 - and this must be attached to your tax return⁶.

💡 What does this mean for international wire transfers? If you’re regularly sending money to a foreign bank account in your name, you must report it to the IRS once the total assets (across all foreign accounts) reaches $50,000.

4 international wire regulation personal rights

What are my rights and protections as a consumer sending money internationally?

The CFPB sets out the rights and protections offered to consumers sending international remittances in a series of consumer education articles, which you can see here.

But one of your key rights as a consumer is to see costs before you decide to use a bank or money transmitter. Those costs include⁷:

  1. The exchange rate
  2. The applicable fees and taxes
  3. The amount that will be received.

You also have other rights, such as to know when the money will be available to your recipient, to cancel the transfer, get help with errors and to submit complaints⁷.

What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)?

The CFPB is an independent bureau within the Federal Reserve Board (FRB). It enforces wire transfer rules and regulations, along with other federal consumer protection laws.

The organisation also aims to make financial markets fairer for consumers, and empower them to take more control over their economic lives.

What are the penalties for non-disclosure of foreign accounts?

If you don’t comply with FATCA regulations, you could face penalties of between $10,000 and $50,000⁶.

1 international wire documents checks limits

Bottom line

Ultimately, there are only two key things you need to know about international money transfer laws and the IRS. The first is that your bank will automatically report transfers over $10,000. The second is that if you hold $50,000 or more in foreign bank accounts, you’ll need to complete an additional form with your annual tax return.

Other than that, it’s good to know that you have rights and protections in place as a consumer thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Frequently asked questions

Do banks report wire transfers to IRS?

Yes, it’s a legal requirement for US banks and other financial institutions which initiate wire transfers to report payments of over $10,000 to the IRS.

Can you wire transfer $500,000?

There aren’t any laws on sending money abroad which stipulate maximum wire transfer amounts. So, you can send an international wire of as much as you like, provided that it’s within the maximum wire transfer limits set by your bank.

However, you should be aware that transfers over $10,000 will automatically be reported to the IRS. You’re also likely to have tax obligations when sending such large sums.

How much money can you send abroad in a year?

Generally speaking, you can send as much as you like overseas. There aren’t any US laws on sending money abroad that limit the amount you can send. But as above, payments over a certain threshold will trigger IRS reporting and tax obligations. Your bank may also set limits on how much you can transfer.

Can you get in trouble for sending money overseas?

No, as long as you abide by the relevant international wire transfer regulations, and are careful who you’re sending to.

We recommend Wise to safely send even large sums of money overseas.

Wise is regulated by 12 international financial authorities, and uses sophisticated security features like 2-factor authentication, 3D secure online payments and biometric recognition to protect you.

You’ll also get real human customer support 365 days a year, just in case you need it. But you don’t have to take our word for it - check out our high approval ratings on TrustPilot and TÜV.

  1. - International Money Transfer Limits IRS
  2. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.
  3. CFPB - What is a Remittance Transfer?
  4. Thomson Reuters Practical Law - Electronic Fund Transfer Act
  5. US Tax Help - IRS Rules for Sending Money to a Foreign Bank Account
  6. IRS - FATCA Reporting for Individuals
  7. CFPB - Send money abroad with more confidence guide

Sources checked on 2 November 2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

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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