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Sending Money Abroad

There are a couple of situations where an individual within the United States may need to send money overseas to an individual having trouble getting back into the country. Situations such as these are handled through the Department of State’s (DoS) Office of Overseas Citizens Services.

What is the best way to send money overseas?

In the event that you need to know how to send money abroad, there are a few methods you may use. Depending on your own circumstances, you can choose from the cheapest way to send money abroad to the fastest. Review the different ways to send money abroad below.

Sending Money Abroad from Your Home

A family member or friend is stuck in another country and contacts you to send money abroad for them. The first question you may ask yourself in this situation is “How can I send money internationally?

Arguably the best way to send money abroad is by using the money recipient’s bank or credit card. Those searching how to send money overseas for free can also utilize banks and credit card companies without incurring any fees. If those aren’t options, you can also use money transfer companies.

If the recipient has a valid bank account, contact the individual’s bank and make arrangements to add money to their account. If you have a bank account with an institution that has branches in the city you’re trying to send money to, contact the bank to learn more about how to send money to an international bank account.

If you will be sending money overseas through a credit card company, contact them to do the same, as well as to report any lost or stolen credit cards that may have caused this situation overseas. Typically, express delivery of replacement cards takes two to three business days. These constitute two of the fastest ways to send money abroad.

For money transfer companies, you should identify a commercial money transfer company that operates both in your city and in or near the city where your family member or friend is located. Money-transfer companies charge a service fee, which vary depending on the company and the location where the money is being sent. Remember, your friend or family member will have to provide proof of identification to receive their money. If they’ve lost their identification as well, sending money abroad through a money transfer will not be possible.

Sending money internationally can also be accomplished by contacting the American Citizen Services unit in the Consular Section of the nearest US embassy or consulate to your family member or friend. US embassy and consulate information can be found on the country specific information database.

Sending Money Overseas through the Department of State

If the above options are not available to you, you may also send money abroad through the US Department of State. The Department of State will take the money and transfer it to your friend or family member through its office in Washington DC to whichever US embassy or consulate is closest to the recipient.

To send money overseas through the Department of State, have the US citizen abroad contact their nearest US embassy or consulate to ask about eligibility requirements. The Department of State charges a $30 processing fee once a year to create an account, which can then transfer funds into and send money abroad. When you transfer money into this account for the first time, make sure to include the $30 fee in the total.

The fastest way to send money abroad through the Department of State is through Western Union. You may also send funds to the Department of State by express courier service or US mail. Utilizing these last two options can take anywhere from several days to several weeks to arrive at the Department of State, so plan accordingly. When sending funds through these means, you must include your name, address, telephone number and the recipient’s full name and location, including the city and country. Fund transfers occur during normal business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

When sending money to the Department of State through Western Union, all transactions should be processed through the company’s Quick Collect Service. Contact the Western Union near you to get more information on restrictions and fees. Western Union typically charges fees based on the dollar amount you are trying to send. Western Union fees are also separate from the $30 processing fee applied to new Department of State accounts.

You can send money to the Department of State through Western Union by phone, internet or in person. To send money over the phone, call Western Union’s Quick Collect Customer Service hotline at 1-800-238-5772. Provide the Western Union agent with the following Department of State information:

To send money abroad through Western Union by Internet, make sure you have a valid Mastercard or Visa credit card and visit the Western Union website. Once there, create an account (or log in if you already have one) and do the following:

  1. Click “Pay Bills Now.”
  2. Enter “Overseas Citizens Services” under the Biller’s name.
  3. Enter the amount you’d like to send and click “Get Started.”
  4. Click “Send Online.”
  5. Enter a space (press the spacebar) in the “Account Number” section, then click “Continue.”
  6. Enter the required payment information and send.

To send money abroad in person, find the closest Western Union location to you, go inside and request a Quick Collect form. Complete the form and submit with your payment, payable to the “US Department of State, Overseas Citizens Services (OCS)”. The “account number” is your 10-digit telephone number. You should also give the Western Union official the full name of the recipient, along with the city and country they are in.

If you have any trouble sending money abroad through Western Union using any of the options above, contact Western Union’s Quick Collect Customer Service at 1-800-238-5772.

If you elect to send the money to the Department of State by Express Courier Service or US Postal Service, allow three to four days for Express Courier packages to arrive, and up to three to four weeks for USPS mail to arrive (due to the Department of State’s mail screening process). These two methods are not recommended for emergencies.

The DoS accepts cashier’s checks or money orders only. Mail should be sent to:

U.S. Department of State
Overseas Citizens Services, SA-17 (10th Floor)
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Be sure to include the full name and location recipient, along with your full name, address, and telephone number.