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Top 3 Money Transfer Providers for USA to UK

Provider Amount Received Fee Exchange Rate Speed
OFX (US) OFX (US) GBP £7,596.49 No Fee 0.7596 1-3 days more...
Venstar Venstar GBP £7,600.32 No Fee 0.76 1-3 days more...
Average US Bank Average US Bank GBP £7,407.15 No Fee 0.7407 1-5 days more...
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USA
The dollar, the world’s most traded currency, is held on a free-float exchange rate and is fully convertible to foreign currencies Read More
UK
There are no exchange controls in the UK for the pound sterling (GBP), and transferring money to the UK and sending money from the UK is very easy Read More
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Send money from USA to UK

How to Transfer Money from USA to UK

Summary

There are few nations in the world with as long and interesting a history between them as the United States and the United Kingdom. With the flow of citizens between the two countries for work and tourism numbering in the millions each year, there are many reasons why the relationship has remained so strong. Because of these solid ties, no matter what the reason—whether it is for tourism, to study or work—making a USD to GBP transfer is a relatively painless affair. Money transfer companies must be registered on a state-by-state basis in the US, but beyond this, there are few restrictions when you transfer USD to pounds.

USD and GBP

As two of the most powerful currencies currently traded—and as two of the oldest still in continuous circulation—the GBP/USD is one of the most actively traded currency pairs. Also known as the ‘Cable’ in certain trading circles, the GBP/USD is among the five most widely traded currency pairs. The Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve have a massive influence on the value of both currencies, and interest rate adjustments become events of global importance as companies across the world try to figure out the best way to transfer USD to GBP.

Economic, trading and political relations

The UK is one of the USA’s major trading partners. In 2018 alone, the goods and services trade between the two countries totalled an estimated $261.9bn. Of these, exports from the US were worth $140.4bn, whilst imports from the UK into the US totalled $121.5bn – which left a trade surplus of $18.9bn. Most of this trade came through bilateral trade agreements negotiated as an EU member state. However, with Brexit looming on the horizon, a new trade relationship will need to be settled between the two nations meaning there is scope for the UK and the US to significantly expand their existing trade relationship.

Bank accounts and credit cards

To open a bank account in the UK, you will need proof of income and employment, evidence of a local address, and a valid passport. Since the introduction of new legislation under FATCA in 2014 it has become slightly more complicated to open a foreign bank account. There is no single best way to send money from US to UK, although bank transfers are the most common. Similarly, wiring money from US to UK is mostly transacted through a current account in either country.

UK banks are quite lax with service charges on small transactions, such as issuing cheques or drawing money from ATMs. Additionally, credit cards are less common in the UK than in the US and require a chip and pin to use them, rather than in the US where a signature is still needed.

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Visas and immigration

The UK and US visa systems can be complex. Most people moving to the other country to work, however, will be sponsored by a company that will handle the process. If you are planning on moving to the UK to work and are considering sending funds to finance this, then you will need to obtain a valid visa. The UK has a points-based visa system. When moving to the UK, the most common type of work visa is a Tier 2, which covers, among other things, inter-company transfers and people with new job offers. The latter is the General visa, for which there is a quota, currently of 20,700 (unless the job pays over £150,000). The Tier 1 visa is aimed at a small number of “high-value migrants” such as entrepreneurs and investors – entrepreneurs are required to have access to at least £50,000 in capital, while investors are required to have at least £1m of disposable funds (income and proceeds from such investments can be sent back to the US).

If moving to the US, the most common visas are non-immigrant visas, where you are either sponsored by your UK company (L class visas) or are moving over to work for a US firm sponsoring you (H class visas). Students obtain F visas, and there are also E class visas available for investment and entrepreneurial activities. You will need to have obtained your visa before you can start work in the US. Further details are on the USCIS website.

Banking, money and taxes

To open a bank account in the UK in order to receive funds, you will need proof of income and employment, evidence of a local address, and your passport. The introduction of the US’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in mid-2014 has made opening a foreign bank account harder, however, as the regulatory demands have become a big deterrent for the banks. FATCA requires that foreign banks, investment funds and insurers – or in some cases, such as the UK, the national revenue agency – hand over to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information about accounts with over US$50,000 held by Americans.

If moving to or establishing a business in the US, opening a bank account there, even from the UK, from which to send funds back to the UK is a little more straightforward. It may be easier, especially if you will be in a major city, to open an account with one of the larger UK banks such as HSBC or Santander, which took over Sovereign Bank in the US. Alternatively, you could open an account in the UK with one of a handful of US banks such as Citigroup and Chase, which have some branches in the UK, albeit mostly in London. Once you have this account set up, it will provide you with an easy-to-use base for any funds earned in the UK as well as any overseas money transfers that you make from the US into the UK.

Unlike some US banks, UK banks do not charge for the majority of small transactions, such as issuing cheques and drawing money from ATMs. In the UK, most credit cards come with a chip and PIN (remember your PIN!) as opposed to many US credit cards, which still require a signature when making a purchase.

The UK tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April of the following year, whereas the US tax year is a calendar year. This difference will have implications for your tax planning. There is a double tax treaty between the UK and the US, but this does not mean that you will be able to receive allowances on all taxable items. This is a very important area to plan in advance of moving over to the UK from the US, especially if you are considering buying a property or investing and will be transferring a significant amount of dollars to pounds and watching the dollar exchange rate. Currently, Brexit has lowered the value of GBP to a much lower rate, so Americans are able to get more pounds for their dollar than in the past.

Buying property in the UK

The UK has become an increasingly attractive place for foreigners to invest in property. For some overseas purchasers, this could be because of a desire to acquire residential property for their own and/or family’s occupation, or for investment. Commercial property is also seen as an attractive investment. There are few restrictions on foreign nationals or overseas companies buying or renting property, with the main considerations being related to tax. As such, it is recommended that you engage specialist tax advice in advance of your property search, whether private residential or commercial investment, particularly if you or a company are non-resident in the UK.

Studying in the UK

The UK is the favourite destination for Americans studying overseas, with the total number enrolled at all levels having risen 13% since the 2008/09 academic year to 16,233 in 2012/13. American students make up 5% of all non-EU students in the UK. Postgraduate study is more popular than undergraduate, but the latter is growing faster. Shorter degrees – typically three years for undergraduate and one year for a Masters – not only take less time but also costs less. Currently, the average annual cost per year of study in the UK for international students is just over US$31,000, of which two-thirds are fees and the rest living costs – this compares favourably with the average total cost in the US of US$38,516 per year, and federal loans and most US scholarships can be used to fund study in the UK. Another attraction of study in the UK is the ease of visiting continental Europe, with lots of cheap flights available. The top five UK universities hosting US students are St Andrews, Oxford, Edinburgh, University College London, and Westminster. The potential lack of EU membership should have very little impact on American students in relation to studying in the UK.

A Tier 4 (General) student visa is required to study in the UK. Once you have a place at an accredited institution, the process of applying is simple, but you have to be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient savings to fund your course and cost of living. Part-time employment of up to 20 hours a week in term time is allowed on a Tier 4 (though you can work full-time in a non-permanent role during term breaks and pursue a sandwich course). When your course finishes, you can work full-time hours for up to four months. You can also bring dependents on a Tier 4 but must be able to demonstrate sufficient savings to cover them too.

Importing from the UK to the US

The UK is a major source of imports to the US, with the US$52.5bn worth of goods and services flowing westwards in 2013 accounting for 2.3% of total imports into the US. The UK and the US have their own bilateral trade relations but also work through the EU. When importing goods from the UK, you will need to declare your imports to customs and pay VAT and duty on them. Some goods may require an import licence. Given the volume of trade between the two countries, there are many options available when financing imports, transferring money to the UK, and organising shipping. However, despite this level of trade, this is through an EU trade deal. As the current Brexit situation is up in the air, there are no guarantees that the current levels of trade will be maintained or that there will remain minimal tariffs on trade between the two nations.

Did you know?

Since its founding, the USD has remained the world’s most influential and stable currency, which is why we see countries outside the US adopting it as either a primary or secondary currency.

According to the Department of Commerce, the trade relationship between the US and the UK supports an estimated 665,000 individual jobs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are the money transfer companies shown above safe to use?

All the companies displayed above are fully-regulated by their relevant authorities and licensed to offer money transfer services. Each is authorised by local authorities such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, or FinCEN in the US.

How long does an international money transfer take?

Exact transfer times will depend on where the money is being sent, how the recipient will receive the money, and the transfer method chosen. Traditional bank transfers can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, while debit and credit card payments can be processed much more quickly.

How do I use FXcompared?

The first thing you should do is to review the comparison results above and check how much it might cost you to make a USD to GBP transfer. Choose a provider based on the actual price they offer for the transfer, the speed the transfer will take, as well as their overall rating. Once you have selected a provider, click the green button to be taken to their website where you can create an account. Once you are fully verified, you can then begin wiring money from the USA to UK.

What payments methods can I use to send money overseas?

The results displayed above will fluctuate in line with real-time movements in the currency market. Certain providers might also offer different pricing depending on how are going to send a given sum of money, or even what type of account you have with them. FXcompared might also offer special rates to new customers who sign up to a provider using the FXcompared website. Make sure you confirm the total cost of the transfer with the provider before committing to it and making the bank transfer from America to UK.


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All the providers listed are regulated by the relevant authority (e.g. the FCA in the UK, FinCEN in the US, ASIC in Australia) and have been vetted by FXcompared.

FXcompared.com is an fx money comparison site for international money transfer and to compare rates from currency brokers for sending money abroad. The website and the information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, solicitation or advice on any financial service or transaction. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.  FXC Group Ltd and FX Compared Ltd does not provide any guarantees of any data from third parties listed on this website. FX compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from (i) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (ii) any action resulting therefrom.