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Legal and tax requirements for transferring large sums of money into Australia

Here’s what you need to know about Australian money transfer regulations for large sums of money.

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Transferring money ahead of immigrating, selling a property or inheriting money from family overseas? 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 cash into Australia, familiarise yourself with these laws and regulations.

Do I have to report large transfers into Australia?

If you're receiving more than AUD$10,000 or a foreign currency equivalent, this will need to be reported to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). This is to help reduce the risk of money laundering or terrorism financing.

Any amount of money transferred into Australia as international funds transfer instruction (IFTI) must have an IFTI-E report submitted within 10 business days. Some money transfer providers, which often solely send money between countries, sometimes have reporting thresholds as low as AUD$1,000.

Tax implications of large money transfers

Outside of large sums needing to be reported to AUSTRAC, you will also need to be aware of any tax implications of someone sending a large amount of money to you in Australia. Depending on the reason why it has been sent, then you may be on the hook for taxes regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

When might I need to pay taxes?

Whether or not you need to pay tax on money transferred from abroad will depend on the source of the funds. To help you out, we've broken these down into when a transfer is a taxable event and when it's not.

Taxable event

If your international money transfer involves any of the following, then chances are you will need to declare it.

  • Property investments. Payment received via money transfer for rental properties or property sales will have to be reported as foreign investment income.
  • Business transactions. You are obligated to pay tax on the income generated from your business overseas.
  • Employment income. The money you earn as an employee overseas will be taxed regardless of your status as full-time, part-time or other.
  • Pension or superannuation. Funds received as an overseas pension or superannuation are subject to tax and need to be declared on your tax return.

Non-taxable event

There are cases for bringing money into Australia without paying tax. The following large money transfers generally aren't subjected to tax:

  • One-time gift. Money transfers that are seen as one-off gifts or rewards won't be subject to gift tax. 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 earned may be taxable and should be reported on your tax.
  • Savings you bring into Australia when emigrating. If you're moving to Australia for the first time, and the amount is more than AUD$10,000 or a foreign equivalent, you'll still need to declare it to customs.

Just keep in mind, for the above non-taxable events, you will still need to check any local tax responsibilities in the country the transfer is being sent from.

If you have any confusion over whether your money transfer is taxable, it is best to speak to a tax professional to make sure you comply with Australia's taxation regulations.

What happens if I don't declare my taxable money transfer?

If you receive a taxable money transfer and choose not to pay the tax, then you 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. So it is important to report any large money transfers on your annual tax returns to the Australian Taxation Office. If you have any doubts, speak to a tax professional for guidance.

What steps can I take to avoid legal or tax problems?

There are things you can do to make sure you avoid getting into any legal or tax difficulties. Here are some tips:

  1. Record everything. The best way to protect yourself from legal issues is by providing records of each transaction to prove the source of your money. Remember, large money transfers that may be subjected to tax will be reviewed.
  2. Seek professional advice. To avoid 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.
  3. Use a reputable money transfer provider. Take a look and compare our recommended money transfer providers. Reputable providers will abide by AUSTRAC regulations and obligations such as reporting their financial transactions and any suspicious activity.

Finder survey: How many international transfers have Australians made in the last 12 months?

Response
2-538.89%
121.11%
017.78%
10+12.22%
6-910%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

How to make a large international money transfer

If you are looking to send a large amount of money to Australia, you'll typically find specialist international money transfer providers offer lower transaction fees and more competitive exchange rates. You can use our comparison table to compare our hand-picked list of specialists.

However, if you want to explore other ways of transferring a large amount internationally, take a look at our detailed guide which breaks down alternative options.

Services that can help with large transfers

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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Bringing money into Australia

There is no limit on the amount of money you can bring into Australia. However, if the combined value of cash in the local or foreign currency you are carrying is equivalent to AUD$10,000 or more, it needs to be declared.

There are two types of money you can bring into Australia: physical cash and bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs).

Physical currency

Cash can be declared when you enter Australia at the international airport or seaport. The declaration form only needs to be completed when the total cash value you bring into Australia exceeds AUD$9,999 - not counting BNIs.

BNIs

These are non-cash forms of money and include cheques, bearer bonds, money orders and promissory notes. Money items without an assigned value or a specified payee (like black cheques) are also considered BNIs. You only need to declare these if it is requested by customs.

Rules to be aware of

You could face penalties if you violate any of the following rules:

  • Children are not exempt from declaring money when necessary.
  • Travellers are allowed to carry money for someone else, but this must be declared. Personal information and details of who they are transporting the money for needs to be reported.
  • Splitting up a large amount across individuals within a group to avoid the AUD$10,000 cap, or "structuring", is illegal.

Frequently asked questions

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28 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    StephenFebruary 21, 2024

    Hi
    I have just turned 55 and am eligible to take up to 25% of my pension tax free. However i now reside in Australia and my question is will I have to pay tax if I transferred from UK bank account to an Australian bank account ?

      AvatarFinder
      ElizabethApril 5, 2024Finder

      Hi Stephen,

      We’re unable to advise on tax implications for specific personal situations. It would be best to chat to a tax advisor to see how this situation may impact you.

      Elizabeth

    Default Gravatar
    MarkJanuary 9, 2024

    What are the tax implications for funds transfers from Namibia to Australia? Transfers exceeding AU$100 000.00

      AvatarFinder
      SarahJanuary 10, 2024Finder

      Hi Mark,

      We’re a review site and not licenced to provide personal taxation advice. We recommend you contact the ATO on 13 28 61 with your query.

      Best of luck!

    Default Gravatar
    vikJune 8, 2023

    Hi, we are family of four 2 adults and 2 kids under 18. In regards to the money we can bring into Australia, Is the $10,000 cap for the whole family ‘or’ is this for individuals?
    Thanks

      AvatarFinder
      SarahJune 11, 2023Finder

      Hi Vik,

      According to Austrak, there is no limit to the amount of money that you can travel with. However amounts greater than $10,000 must be declared. Sharing cash or non-cash forms of money between travelling parties to avoid reporting obligations is called ‘structuring’ and it is against the law.

      For example, a party of travellers, such as a family of four, might choose to break up a reportable amount of currency among themselves, so that each traveller is carrying less than $10,000. Austrac reports that if this involves, for example, a young child ‘carrying’ AUD9,950 across the border, it may be considered that the main purpose of dividing the cash among the party is to avoid the reporting requirement, and this would be against the law.

      Hope this helps.

    Default Gravatar
    ShaunMarch 5, 2023

    I have recently made money from crypto with a broker and am getting a bank transfer it is a sum of over 4m aud
    Now I know I have to report it to the ato but which kind of legal advice should I take or would a tax accountant be the right avenue to go down ?

      AvatarFinder
      SarahMarch 5, 2023Finder

      Hi Shaun,

      Because you’ll need to declare the investment return to the ATO, you’re best off speaking to an accountant in the first instance. We recommend you look for an accountant with cryptocurrency experience, as there are many complexities to navigate.

      Hope this helps!

    Default Gravatar
    ReeceFebruary 15, 2023

    Hi,
    If I sell my personal yacht in the Philippines, will I be taxed on the money if I send it all to Australia?
    Is there anything I need to be aware of?

      AvatarFinder
      SarahFebruary 20, 2023Finder

      Hi Reece, We’re not permitted to give personal or taxation advice, so we’d suggest you contact a qualified accountant for some advice about your situation.

      All the best with your sale!

      many thanks,
      Sarah

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