Transferring Money to France
If you're thinking of sending money to France, you can thank your lucky stars that we live in these times, when modern technology makes the process incredibly simple. Gone are the days when you'd be burying your gold and leaving a treasure map in your will.
Transferring money today is a much simpler business, but there are still longer, more expensive options, and quicker, more affordable ones.
On this page, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about sending money from the UK to France, including typical costs, useful tips, and the best ways to do it.
A bird's-eye view of Nice, one of the French cities you may want to send money to
How to transfer money to France
To send cash on its way to someone in France, you don’t need to use the services of a bank. It’s only one of your options.
These days, there are usually three options to choose from: banks, P2P (peer-to-peer) currency exchange platforms, and foreign exchange brokers.
Allow us to take you through each one.
Transferring money with a bank
This is the traditional option. You can send an international wire transfer from one bank to another through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network.
The SWIFT network comprises more than 10,000 banks in 200+ countries, so it’s certainly wide-ranging.
However, it’s also an expensive choice. There are usually several fees associated with SWIFT transfers, such as those charged by the sender and recipient banks, along with any charged by the intermediary banks.
Unless the sender and recipient banks have a strong relationship with one another, there can be up to three intermediary banks involved – which is a lot.
After all, banks typically apply a mark-up to the exchange rate, which is usually around 4-6% above the mid-market rate (the one you see on Google).
There’s more info on fees further down the page.
Transferring money with a P2P currency exchange platform
In the past decade, the arrival of internet-based peer-to-peer foreign currency exchange platforms has radically altered the market.
These platforms are generally much cheaper than the services offered by banks, mainly because they use the real, mid-market exchange rate, and charge very low fees.
In 2019, The Daily Telegraph reported that the exchange rates used by P2P platforms were on average 4% cheaper than those used by banks.
Importantly, these companies also offer a strong level of security. Every responsible P2P platform operating in the UK is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
These services are called “peer to peer” because they match you with someone else around the world.
For example, if you’re looking to send £100 to France, a company like Wise will find someone who’s looking to send around €115 to the UK, and use this pairing to fulfil the exchange.
If they can’t find anyone to match your transfer request, P2P platforms will simply buy the currency from the usual interbank markets – although this can then make the transfer more expensive.
That’s why exchanges in very common currencies (e.g. dollars, pounds, euros, and yen) are so cheap on P2P platforms – because there’s always demand on both sides. Users literally trade between themselves, without any dealers getting involved.
Transferring money with a foreign exchange broker
Foreign exchange (FX) brokers are useful if you’re sending very large sums of money abroad, i.e. over £3,000. They charge fees for their services, but will typically waive (or reduce) these fees for larger transfers.
FX brokers also add a mark-up to the exchange rate, but this is typically much smaller than the mark-up usually applied by banks.
The key benefit of using an FX broker is the ability to set up a forward contract. This means you can set up future international money transfers with today’s exchange rate, so you won’t be affected by any negative changes.
This chamois has little use for money
How much do money transfers to France cost?
It varies, based on what service you’re using, how much money you’re sending, and how you’re paying for it.
If you use banks to send an international wire transfer, you’ll be dealing with a marked up exchange rate and a sending fee, while your recipient will have to pay a receiving fee.
According to research by Finder in May 2020, you can expect UK banks to charge up to £40 as a sending fee for an international money transfer, and up to £7.50 as a receiving fee.
Meanwhile, on average, banks add a 4% mark-up to the mid-market exchange rate.
In contrast, P2P currency exchange platform Wise’s fees for sending pounds to France currently range from a 0.35% fee on transfers up to £100,000, to a 0.19% fee on transfers up to £1,000,000, with an added flat fee of just 20p.
Wise also states that transfers to France should arrive at their destination within five hours, at most.
It also depends on how you pay for the transfer. For example, using a business debit card to transfer pounds with Wise incurs a 0.69% fee, while a credit card incurs a 2.45% fee.
Find out today how much it’ll cost you to use Wise.
How long does it take to transfer money to France?
Again, there’s a bunch of variables at play which can affect the length of time it takes to send pounds to France. These include:
- The service you’re using
- The number of banks involved (SWIFT transfers can involve up to three intermediary banks)
- Whether the transfer falls on a weekend or public holiday
In general, the standard length of time for any international money transfer is between 0-5 business days, with banks generally taking longer than P2P platforms.
For instance, if you send money to France through NatWest, a standard transfer will take 2-4 working days.
Or if you choose to transfer money to France with HSBC, it’ll “normally be credited by the next working day”.
In contrast, sending money abroad via P2P exchange platforms like Wise is typically much quicker.
For example, if you send £10,000 from the UK to France via Wise, it’ll usually be in your recipient’s account in the next five hours.
And if you change your Wise payment method from a wire transfer to a debit card, you can cut down the time it takes even further.
It rarely if ever takes as long as an international wire transfer, because there are no intermediary banks involved.
What are the minimum and maximum limits on France money transfers?
When it comes to maximum and minimum limits, there’s usually a bit of a trade-off between banks and P2P platforms.
Generally speaking, you pay higher fees to send cash via banks, but you can send larger amounts of cash; meanwhile, P2P platforms keep fees low, but also impose smaller limits on how much you can send.
For example, Wise allows transfers of no more than £10,000 per day (if paying via debit or credit card), whereas HSBC allows you to send up to £50,000 online, and as much as you want from a branch.
However, if you’re not looking to send vast sums of money abroad, P2P foreign exchange firms also come with very favourable rules for minimum payments.
Wise simply requires you to transfer at least £0.01, while services such as Western Union require a minimum payment of £1.
While some banks also do not impose a minimum limit on payments, their large flat fees can make small transfers rather uneconomical.
What are the tax implications of transferring money to France?
Please be advised that while every effort is made to keep this information up to date, MoveHub does not provide tax advice, and you should always consult a tax professional about your unique circumstances.
When we spoke to Robert Salter, a senior advisor who specialises in expatriate tax at Blick Rothenberg, he told us that the money’s purpose matters more than the initial transfer.
Salter explained that transferring money to France shouldn't trigger any taxes. Rather, it's how a person intends to use the money in France that can lead to taxes.
“For example,” Salter continued, “maybe they are using the money to purchase a property in France.
“If they are UK nationals rather than European Union (EU) nationals, they would be regarded as ‘foreign citizens’ from a French tax return perspective.
“As foreign citizens purchasing French property (e.g. for letting purposes), they may then actually be subject to additional social charges on the income from the letting income, compared to an EU National,” Salter added.
“Finally, it is always worth remembering that where one has assets denominated in a foreign currency and then brings them back to the UK in due course (if this were to happen), it is always possible for one to have a capital gains tax charge because of ‘currency fluctuations’.
“For example, say I invested in something in France for £85,000/€100,000 today, and due to exchange rate changes, it was worth £115,000 in five years’ time in sterling terms – though the core value of the asset in euro terms remained at €100,000.
“In this situation, a UK-based individual would be taxable on the gain of £30,000, less any relief which might be available.”
What keeps my money safe when I send it to France?
There are governing bodies in the UK and France whose job it is to ensure that every bank and P2P currency exchange platform is operating responsibly, so that every customer’s money is protected.
Money transfer safety measures in the UK
All P2P currency exchange firms with registered offices in the UK are administered by HMRC, so they’re compelled to follow all UK Money Laundering Regulations.
Plus, as ‘payment institutions’, all money transfer firms are monitored by the Financial Conduct Authority. Before sending your money with any currency exchange company, you should check to see if they’re on the FCA register.
Money transfer safety measures in France
Money transfers must operate within the boundaries of French law, which are set out in Articles L 524-1 to L 524-7, L 572-1 to L 572-4, and D 524-1 to D 524-2 of the Monetary and Financial Code, and in a 2009 Executive Order.
Companies must also adhere to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws explained in Articles L 561-2 to L 561-44.
These regulations tie them to disclosure and due diligence obligations enforced by the Bank of France’s independent authority, the Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority.
Depending on the offence, breaking money transfer laws can lead to a perpetrator receiving a €30,000 (£26,000) fine and two years in prison.
You should now be much more knowledgeable about how to transfer money from the UK to France. As you can see, there are multiple options available to you, and they each come with their own benefits.
If you’re tempted by a P2P foreign currency exchange platform, look no further than Wise.