Western Union tracking with MTCN in 5 steps

Wise
07.28.20
6 minute read

If you’re sending or receiving money with Western Union, you may want to use Western Union tracking to check the status of your transfer.

The Western Union money order tracking service lets you do this online – so long as you have the right details to hand.

Armed with a Western Union tracking number, or MTCN, you can find out where your money transfer is right now. In this article, you’ll find the steps for tracking a Western Union money order online.

In the article we cover:

  • What does MTCN stand for
  • How to track your money order
  • Frequently asked questions

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MTCN – What does MTCN stand for?

MTCN stands for Money Tracking Control Number. It’s basically a reference code, 10 digits long, that refers to one particular money transfer.

Tracking a Western Union transfer is easy if you know the MTCN. The receiver will not get a notification when a Western Union money order arrives, but both the sender and the receiver can use the MTCN to track a money order.

So how can you find the Western Union tracking number? The MTCN is printed on the receipt that the sender gets when they make the transfer.¹ ² It’s also in your transfer history online.²

If the receiver is collecting the transfer from a Western Union agent location, it’s important that the sender passes the MTCN on to them. The receiver should present the MTCN, as well as some ID, on collection.¹ ³

How to use Western Union money order tracking

Tracking Western Union transfers can be done online, by phone or in an agent location. It’ll usually be easiest to do it online, though. Here's how to trace a Western Union money order.

Western Union money order tracking online

If you have the right details to hand, tracking a Western Union money order online should be an easy process. Here’s what to do:²

  1. Go to the Western Union website and click Track transfer.
  2. Select whether you’re the sender or the receiver.
  3. Type in the MTCN and hit Continue. If you don’t know it, select “Don’t know the MTCN?”
  4. If you don’t have the MTCN, you’ll need to input some alternative details – either the sender’s phone number or the names of both sender and receiver; the receiver’s country; the send or receive amount; and (if possible) the transfer date.
  5. Follow through any additional steps that the website asks, confirming your identity if needed.

Once you’ve done all that, Western Union should tell you what’s going on right now with your transfer – for instance if it’s still in progress, if it’s arrived and is ready for collection, or if it’s already been collected.

You can follow the same process if you’re using the Western Union app.

How to track Western Union without an MTCN number

Western Union money order tracking is easiest if you have the MTCN. However, if you don’t have the Western Union tracking number, it’s still possible to check on the transfer status so long as you have other details to hand.

You’ll need to provide either the sender’s phone number, or the names of both sender and receiver – and also the send or receive amount.²

Perfectly possible, then – but easier just to type in the MTCN.

Receiving a Western Union money order

How to receive a Western Union money order without MTCN

As for whether you can receive a WU transfer if you don’t have the MTCN – yes, you can, if it’s going straight into your bank account. In that case, you don’t have to do anything at all, in fact.

If you’re collecting it from an agent location, though, it’s best to have the MTCN. You’ll certainly be asked for it, along with some ID.

If you’re collecting money and you don’t have the MTCN, your best option is to try again to get it. Contact the sender and ask them for the MTCN once again. They’ll be able to find it either on the receipt or in their online account.

Still no luck? Best to give WU a call.

Does the receiver need to register with Western Union?

Not in general, but in some countries they will need to do a one-off registration when they go to collect money from an agent location.

The countries in question are Argentina, China, Colombia, and Jamaica, although the rules are slightly different in each case. It’s important to act relatively fast in China, because if the receiver can’t be contacted in three days then the money will go straight back to the sender.⁷

Western Union fraud - What to be aware of

Any time you deal with money issues – especially online – you should be very careful about possible scams or fraud. Don’t give any details, including MTCNs, to anyone you don’t trust. In fact, best to keep the MTCN only between sender and receiver. Nobody else should need it.

If you’re the receiver, tracking the transfer online can be a good way to ensure you’ve got a real MTCN and not a fake or expired one. But of course, do be sure you’re tracking via the real WU website.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to some of the things you might be wondering about the Western Union money tracking process.

How long do Western Union transfers take?

However much money you’re sending, this is the million-dollar question. But unfortunately, there’s no simple answer.

All sorts of factors can affect how long international money transfers take – including where you’re sending the money to, and whether it’s going to a bank account or for cash pickup. Plus there’s the question of how long it takes for you to pay the money to Western Union, which may depend on whether you pay via bank transfer or credit or debit card.

It can be almost immediate, or it can be a matter of days. You may be able to choose from a variety of service types, which can speed up (or slow down) your transfer. For instance, a “Money in Minutes” transfer will generally make cash available for pickup very fast, while a “Direct to Bank” transfer is often several days.⁵

If you send money online via Western Union, they’ll give you an estimate for how long it’ll take, based on the specifics of your transfer, once you’ve input the key details. That’s the best estimate to use.

What if my money transfer is delayed?

All sorts of factors might contribute to hold up an international money transfer.

So if, when you check up on the transfer status, you find out it’s been delayed, there might be any number of reasons. In some circumstances, Western Union will actually get in touch with you about it. If not, you could get in touch with them via phone or email.⁶

Will the receiver get a notification when the money arrives?

No, Western Union doesn’t do that. It’s best to use the MTCN to check the status of a transfer and see if it’s ready for collection.⁶

How many numbers are in a Western Union tracking number?

MTCNs, or Western Union tracking numbers, are 10 digits long.

How do I find my Western Union tracking number?

The MTCN is printed on the receipt that the sender gets when they make the transfer.¹ ² It’s also in your transfer history online.²

How do I track my Western Union money?

You can use the Western Union money order tracking service to track your Western Union money online. You will need the MTCN, or the sender’s phone number, and the send or receive amount.

Are there better alternatives to Western Union?

There are lots of different money transfer services out there, and any decent one will let you track your transfer just as easily as WU does. Here’s a rundown of 14 alternatives to Western Union that might tempt you, from Wise to MoneyGram. Few of these alternatives can trace their history back to the 19th century, like Western Union can, but they could save you time and money.

You might be surprised how much they can vary in price. Often that’s because of the exchange rate, which can contribute as much to the cost – or more – than fixed fees. It’s always a good idea to check the exchange rate against the real mid-market rate on offer at the moment.

You can use our handy Wise calculator to check how our fees and speed compare to other transfer services!

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Sources:
  1. MTCN: Western Union Tracking Number
  2. WU - Track your money transfer
  3. WU - Pick up cash
  4. WU - App
  5. WU - When will my receiver get the money?
  6. WU - Transfer status and service notifications
  7. WU - Does my receiver need to register before receiving the money

All sources checked 08 February 2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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