International money transfer regulations

Legal requirements for transferring large sums of money into Australia

What you should know when sending large sums into Australia.

Transferring your life savings ahead of immigrating, funding a business opportunity or inheriting money from family abroad? Whatever your reasons for sending money to Australia, there’s a lot to consider.

You can’t avoid the laws and legal paperwork that go along with transferring large amounts of money, so before you move your money to Australia, familiarise yourself with these laws and regulations.

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Do I have to report large transfers into Australia?

No matter where you’re from, if you’re receiving more than $10,000 or a foreign currency equivalent, you’ll need to abide by Australian laws put in place to both protect your money and protect the interests of the government.

The monitoring is done by regulatory body AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), which collects data on all cash transfers that exceed $10,000. This is to help prevent money laundering or terrorism.

Money transfer businesses, which often solely send money between countries, sometimes have reporting thresholds as low as $1,000.

Australian law requires banks and money transfer companies to report personal, identifiable information, which can include the following:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • The name and contact information of the person who sent you the money.
  • If it’s a bank transfer, the financial details of the recipient, including SWIFT code.
  • Your banking details, including your bank account number.
  • The amount you received.
  • If you’re sending money on behalf of a company, details of the business including your employment and its Australian Business Number (ABN).

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Tax implications

If someone is planning to send a large sum of money to you in Australia, you could be on the hook for taxes regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), depending on the reason why they are sending it to you.

The following large money transfers generally aren’t subjected to Australia’s gift tax:

  • One-time gift. Money transfers that are seen as one-off gifts or rewards aren’t taxed, but there are instances where they can be. This includes if the gift money is part of a business-like activity or if it’s related to how you earn income. If you decide to invest this gift money, the income it generates can be taxed.
  • Inheritance. If you’re a beneficiary, you won’t need to pay taxes on the inheritance money you receive from abroad. If you chose to invest this money, the interest may be taxable and should be reported on your tax.
  • Money you bring with you if you’re moving to Australia for the first time. If it’s more than AUD$10,000 or a foreign equivalent, you’ll need to declare it to customs.

As long as you’ve attended to any local tax responsibilities in your home country, these kinds of money transfers won’t have any tax requirements.

If the money you’re sending involves an investment opportunity – like investing in a property or business – you’re required to report the amount as foreign investment income to the Australian Taxation Office. You may be required to pay tax on this money, depending on your specific circumstances.

For example, if you have an investment property overseas and receive the rent via money transfer, you’ll need to pay tax on it. But if the money you receive is a birthday gift from someone living overseas, you typically won’t have to pay tax.

When receiving an international money transfer, you’ll need to take into account the source of the funds when considering tax implications. Transferring income you’ve earned while overseas is an example of a transfer that you should declare to the ATO.

If you’re concerned about a large inheritance of money or property, speak to a tax professional to make sure that you comply with Australia’s taxation regulations.

What are the penalties for not declaring a large remittance?

If your loved ones in Australia receive a large money transfer that’s not exempt from the gift tax and choose not to pay the tax, they risk fines and other penalties. More serious consequences include criminal convictions and even prison sentences.

Criminal convictions can affect your employment and ability to travel outside the country. Encourage your friends and family to report any large money transfers on their annual tax returns to the Australian Taxation Office. Or ask them to speak to a tax professional for guidance.

What other steps should I take to avoid legal or tax problems?

To avoid the severe penalties that come with a failure to report large sums of money being brought into the country, speak with a professional to guarantee that everything is above board and complies with the laws of all countries involved.

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What should I expect when receiving money from overseas?

Sending money through a bank or money transfer specialist makes for easy, convenient bank deposits or cash pickups. In general, you may need to provide photo ID or a transaction number to receive your money transfer in person.

If you already have an account with the bank or money transfer company, you may not need to provide ID each time you receive money. However, online money transfers may have stricter rules when it comes to proof of ID, and they could ask for additional documentation or ask you to verify your identity by phone.

As with all international money transfers, be wary of potential fraud and only send money to people you know. Using a reputable provider can safeguard you from potential scams.

DISCLAIMER: This article is general advice. It does not consider your own personal circumstances and may not be applicable to you. You should obtain professional advice and consider your own situation before acting on anything contained in our article.

Questions you may have about large transfers

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DennisJanuary 22, 2019

    I am considering returning to Australia and I need to transfer funds from Europe in order to purchase a house. What documentation is required from my side to accompany the funds?

    • finder Customer Care
      JhezelynJanuary 24, 2019Staff

      Hi Dennis,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Your bank or money transfer service might ask for your ID documents, information about where the payment is from, and who it’s going to. Some companies will take this information for every transaction, as they’re obliged to report payments to AUSTRAC – both large and small – and anything which might look suspicious.

      Because you’re also thinking of returning to Australia, there are foreign exchange companies that allow you to create an account and link two bank accounts. Once this has been set up, you are able to transfer money from your foreign bank account to your Australian bank account.

      The minimum requirements for starting an account is your address, personal details, certified identification, a bank account to draw from and a list of the countries which you want to send money. Most applications can be made online.

      Once your account is ready to trade, you can log in, get a quote and if you are happy with the rate, you can accept the rate and provide details of an account to draw from or transfer to. Before you transfer, notify your bank, both the incoming and outgoing, of a large sum of money being moved. Often if you have never done this before, limits are automatically imposed unless at your request and the bank approves.

      I hope this helps.


  2. Default Gravatar
    PaulDecember 6, 2018

    A binary company wants to charge us 1500.00 usd initial transfer fee to release our profits, is this normal for all companies?

    • finder Customer Care
      MayDecember 12, 2018Staff

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      I’m not quite sure if that’s actually normal as we don’t exactly know the terms and conditions of the company you’re with in terms of how they pay the profits. Do you have any documentation of your contract with that company regarding how you’re paid with your profits? Best to confirm this so that you would avoid such fees.

      Meantime, while we hope that you’re not being defrauded, best to be wary of anyone online who tells you there’s upfront deposits or payments, as usually, normal transfers don’t incur very huge fees. Better to check your sender’s identification first and investigate why they would require you to pay first. Some useful guides that may help you though about transfer scams, just in case:

      1.Keep your money safe from money transfer scams
      2. How to report a scam and who to report it to

      Hope this has helped.


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