Australia recognised the independence of Georgia in March 1992. In 2008, after Georgia's conflict with Russia, Australia provided $1 million in emergency humanitarian aid through organisations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In 2010, Australia contributed to a NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund project to clear unexploded ordnance in Georgia.
Both countries share a warm bilateral relationship. In recent times, there has been a focus of building people-to-people links and commercial ties, especially in the field of education. As per the 2011 Australian census, 489 people in living in Australia claimed Georgian ancestry.
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Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
The trade relationship between these two countries is modest. Two-way trade in 2014 totalled to $13.4 million, which included $7.5 million in exports from Australia.
This guide gives you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Banks vs money transfer companies
Tsotne Beridze moved to Australia because of work, while his wife and children continue living in Georgia. Since they depend on him financially, he’ll have to send them money on a regular basis. He feels around $1,000 per month is good to keep them going.
While Tsotne opened an account with a bank in Australia upon arriving to this country, it does not let him transfer funds to Georgia, given that the Georgian Lari (GEL) is an exotic currency. While he can turn to other banks, he decides to compare money transfer companies instead. He takes to the Internet and this is what he finds.
Money transfer service 1
Money transfer service 2
$1 = GEL1.7199
$1 = GEL1.7733
Amount received for $1,000
Tsotne opts to go with the second money transfer company even though it charges him a fee. This is because his wife stands to receive more money through this service provider, and he can be sure the money will get to her bank account within a day. After his first transfer, he decides to compare his options every time thereon.
How do I compare transfer companies when transferring and receiving money via Georgia?
A range of factors require your attention when sending money to Georgia from Australia.
Exchange rate and fees. It is important that you don’t base your decision based on either the exchange rate or the fees alone. This is because a fee-free service provider may offer an unfavourable exchange rate, or hefty fees can accompany a seemingly good exchange rate. Comparing how much money the recipient stands to receive gives you a clear picture.
How you can send money. Find out if your bank lets you transfer funds to Georgian bank accounts. If it does, you may be able to carry out the transfer online, over the phone or by visiting a branch. Some money transfer companies let you send money in person by visiting a store or kiosk, and some let you initiate the process over the phone as well. However, turning online gives you considerably more options to choose from.
How the recipient can receive money. The recipient can receive money directly into a Georgian bank account. Visiting a local cash pickup centre to collect the transferred money is also an option.
Methods. If you plan on sending money to Georgia regularly, you can look for a company that lets you schedule transfers into the future. If you’re looking at benefitting by fluctuations in the foreign currency exchange market, you can deal with a business that offers market orders and forward contracts.
Using the same bank. If you and the recipient have accounts with the same bank, you can consider using its services for the transfer. In this case you can benefit through reduced fees and a quicker than usual turnaround time.
Processing time. The time the transfer takes to go through essentially depends on the service provider and method you choose. Transfers to cash pickup locations tend to take place almost instantly. Transfers to bank accounts can take one to three days with money transfer companies, and longer with banks.
Minimum amount. This aspect requires your attention because some service providers don’t let you transfer less than $500 or $1,000.
You get multiple options when sending money to Georgia from Australia.
Banks. Some Australian banks let you transfer funds electronically, directly into Georgian bank accounts. You can also think about sending a cheque, draft or money order via mail.
Non-banks. By using the services of a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram you can send money to a cash pickup location in Georgia. You can use the services of a money transfer company to send money to a Georgian bank account as well. If you and the recipient have PayPal accounts, you can use its services to send money to Georgia. You can open a PayPal account for free in little time.
When receiving money from Georgia in Australia, you get to choose from different methods.
Banks. By giving the sender you bank account details, you can receive money directly in your account. The sender can transfer funds in your account through a Georgian bank or by using a money transfer company. You can also receive a money order, cheque or draft via mail.
Non-banks. Non-banking businesses such as Western Union and MoneyGram have a considerable presence across Australia. You can visit any of their cash pickup centres to collect transferred money. PayPal also allows transfers to Australia from Georgia. To use its services, both you and the sender should have PayPal accounts. Opening a new account is free and does not involve any fees.
If you end up losing your wallet in Georgia, the first thing you should do is report your debit and credit cards as lost or stolen. Consider filing a police complaint as well. Next, you can think about getting emergency money in these ways.
Cash pickup. Can you get a friend or family member to send you some money through a money transfer company? If so, identify an easily accessible cash pickup centre and pass the details to the sender.
Credit card cash advance. If you have an existing Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card you can think about getting an emergency cash advance by visiting a local participating bank.
Travel insurance. With the right kind of travel insurance, you can get emergency money to deal with lost and misplaced baggage, flight cancellations and delays as well as unexpected medical expenses.
Western Union and MoneyGram have a number of cash pickup centres in Georgia. Collecting money from any of these centres requires that the recipient present a valid reference number along with a suitable form of ID such as a passport or a driver’s license. If the transfer involves a large sum, consider calling in advance to verify availability of funds. Here are some cash pickup locations in Georgia.
BasisBank Varketili Ul 3 Ploschad 14 430Tbilisi+995-322-922922Open 9:30am to 9pm, Monday to Sunday
BasisBank Moskva Prkt 25Tbilisi+995-322-922922Open 10am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday
VTB Bank Georgia Kutaisi Sc-33 Str. AvtomshenebeliKutaisi+995-322-242424Open 9:30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 2pm, Saturday, closed on Sunday
BasisBank Tsereteli Ul 1Kutaisi+995-322-922922Open 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, 10am to 2:30pm, Saturday, closed on Sunday
Bank of Georgia 39a Chitaia StTbilisi+995-322-444444Open 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm, Saturday, 10am to 2pm, Sunday
Credex Saburtalo Branch7 ChabukianiTbilisi+995-322-981010Open 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, 11am to 3pm, Saturday, closed on Sunday
Bank of Georgia 17 Tsminda Nino StKutaisi+995-431-242028Open 10am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm, Saturday, closed on Sunday
VTB Georgia 5 Rustaveli StKutaisi+995-431-240480Open 10am to 1pm, Monday, 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 2:30pm, Saturday, closed on Sunday
Incidences of serious crime have reduced in Georgia, especially in Tbilisi. However, there have been instances of violent crimes committed against foreigners, which include robberies, carjacking, assaults and home invasions, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. When travelling after dark, exercise due vigilance, especially in residential areas and around hotels.
Instances of public demonstrations are not uncommon. Avoid them because they can turn violent.
While merchants often quote prices in US dollars or Euros, Georgian law requires that you pay for all products and services in Georgian Lari. You can use credit cards in Tbilisi easily, but this is not the case with other regions. You can find ATMs in major towns. Acceptance of traveller’s cheques is limited.
The method you choose has a bearing on the steps involved in sending money to Georgia.
Transfer to bank account. If you’re sending money through your own bank, you can do with providing the recipient’s name and bank account details. If you’re sending money through a transfer company, you’ll have to provide details of your bank account, debit card or credit card as well. You can use the reference number you get when you initiate the transfer to track its progress.
Cash pickup. When sending money to a cash pickup centre, you’ll have to provide the recipient’s name as well as a desired pickup centre. You’ll have to provide your bank account, debit card or credit card details to make the payment. You get a reference number when you initiate the transfer, which the recipient needs to collect the transferred money.
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