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What is a telegraphic transfer?

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Learn everything you need to know about how telegraphic transfers work in Australia.

When you're sending or receiving an international money transfer through a bank, you'll often see the terms "telegraphic transfer", "TT" or "wire transfer".

In this guide, we'll help you figure out what the different terms mean and the process behind sending money across borders.

Quick definition: Telegraphic transfers

A telegraphic transfer is what you get when you go to a bank to make an international money transfer. It means your money will be bounced along a network of correspondent banks until it arrives at its destination.

How can I make a telegraphic transfer?

To make a telegraphic transfer, you will need to do the following:

  1. Go to your local bank's branch, app or website.
  2. Ask to send an international money transfer.
  3. Fill out the form either in-person or online.
  4. Pay the transfer amount and applicable fees.

What information or documents will I need?

To send a telegraphic transfer, you'll need to provide the following:

  • Your (the originator's) details. This includes your name and bank account details, or the details of the originator if you're sending money on behalf of someone else.
  • The recipient's (beneficiary's) details. This includes the recipient's bank, bank account number, address, name and contact details. This may include an IBAN or SWIFT code.
  • Transfer details. This includes the amount, the reason for the transfer, the currencies, the date and any other information the bank requests.

Frequently asked questions

How does a telegraphic transfer work?

A telegraphic transfer works by bouncing money between different banks until it arrives at its destination. Each bank the money passes through en route will have its own fees and processing times, which is why telegraphic transfers can be slow and more expensive than a money transfer service.

This network of banks is called the SWIFT network.

Money will only pass between banks with pre-existing commercial relationships, known as "correspondent banking" relationships. Each correspondent bank en route will take a cut of the money as they handle it to cover processing fees and may take a day or two to process the payment.

There are two main reasons why banks can only pass money through other correspondent banks:

  • Anti-money laundering laws require banks to know whose money they're handling. By ensuring an unbroken chain of trust between banks, the final bank at the destination can safely assume the customer was appropriately vetted, and that it's handling money in compliance with international law even though it hasn't personally verified the sender.
  • Banks can't constantly be physically sending money around the world every time a customer needs to make a payment. So instead, they maintain a system of "nostro" accounts with each other.
  • What are nostro accounts?

    Correspondent banks hold nostro accounts with each other to facilitate international payments.

    With this system, correspondent banks can simply add and deduct amounts from the nostro accounts to account for payments sent to them from partner banks as they pass through.

    So when you send a telegraphic transfer, it will ripple through a series of nostro accounts at different banks until it arrives at its destination.

    The number of banks in a chain will vary depending on the payment corridor. For straightforward transfers to or from USD, there might only be two or three. For other corridors, there will often be more since US dollars tend to serve as a hub.

    For example, if you're sending money from Australia to Europe, it might go like so:

    • Your bank. You go to your bank. It gets your AUD and converts it to US dollars through its nostro account at the intermediary bank.
    • Intermediary bank. Converts the US dollars to euros through its nostro account at a European bank.
    • European bank. Sends the euros to the bank of the person who's receiving the money.
    • Receiving bank. Receives the money from the other European bank and hands it to its customer – the person you wanted to send money to.

    Cheaper alternatives to telegraphic transfers

    The most important thing to know is that when you send money through a bank, it'll typically take the form of a telegraphic transfer or TT, and that it will usually be much more expensive than using a money transfer service instead.

    Check out some of the ones below to see if you can find a better deal.

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    AUD 200 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
    6,847
    TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
    Send money overseas in 30+ currencies with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
    Go to site Show details
    AUD 2,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
    6,847
    Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates with $0 transfer fees for Finder customers. WorldFirst will beat any eligible quote from another provider. Go to site Show details
    AUD 250 1 - 2 days AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
    6,847
    $0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
    $0 transfer fee on transfers over AU$10,000, $15 flat fee applies otherwise. 24-hour customer service available with a local support team.
    Go to site Show details
    AUD 250 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
    6,847
    SendFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
    Fee-free transfers in 30+ currencies to over 200 countries.
    Go to site Show details
    AUD 200 1 day AUD 0.00 0.684 USD
    6,840
    Low minimum transfer amount of just AU$200, with no set-up fees or transfer fees. Go to site Show details
    AUD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.684 USD
    6,839
    Special offer: Pay zero fees on your first 5 transfers
    Get bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
    Go to site Show details
    AUD 1 Within an hour AUD 3.99 0.684 USD
    6,837
    An online money transfer service with cash pickup, bank account to bank account and airtime transfers available. Go to site Show details
    AUD 3,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.685 USD
    6,845
    Global Reach will match any competitor's exchange rates. Conditions apply.
    No transfer fee when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. Send money in over 130 currencies. No maximum transfer amount.
    Go to site Show details
    AUD 1 1 day AUD 0.00 0.684 USD
    6,840
    With global payments provider XE, enjoy fast and secure transfers and a range of foreign currency tools and calculators while benefiting from $0 transfer fees. Go to site Show details
    AUD 200 1 - 2 days AUD 50.00 0.687 USD
    6,835
    Exclusive: Finder customers receive $15 off their first transaction. T&Cs apply.
    Quick and simple international money transfers with zero-margin exchange rates. There's a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers. Earn loyalty points on sign up, referral and every transaction.
    Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers


    The "Rate" and "Amount Received" displayed are indicative rates that have been supplied by each brand or gathered by Finder.

    Exchange rates are volatile and change often. As a result, the exchange rate listed on Finder may vary to the actual exchange rate quoted for the brand. Please confirm the actual exchange rate and mention "Finder" before you commit to a brand.

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International Money Transfer Offers

Important Information*
Logo for TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 30+ currencies with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.

Logo for WorldFirst International Money Transfers
WorldFirst International Money Transfers

Send 60+ currencies at competitive rates with $0 transfer fees for Finder customers. WorldFirst will beat any eligible quote from another provider.

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OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers

$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
$0 transfer fee on transfers over AU$10,000, $15 flat fee applies otherwise. 24-hour customer service available with a local support team.

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TransferWise International Money Transfers

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