News

Sending or Receiving Foreign Currency?… Avoid Surprises!


According to Choice, if you need to send cash overseas to pay contractors or suppliers, you’ll get the best value by using an online non-bank transfer service.

Before you start using an online transfer service, you will need to establish an account and verify your identity (as you do with financial institutions). You should also be aware that even though you’re using a non-bank online transfer service, the money will inevitably leave one bank and arrive in another. The time it takes to transfer funds will vary according to those banks and both will charge a fee that cannot be controlled by the online transfer service.

While the exchange rates will be similar to banks, and some non-bank services will have a minimum send amount, the upside is that the fees will be less.

The main players in non-bank foreign exchange are:

Some have minimum and maximum sends, they vary in their fees and so on… Explore them all, check out the conversion rate calculators on their websites, and make your choice. Note that some institutions will have calculators for both the inter-bank rate and the customer exchange rate. The inter-bank rate is a better deal, however that’s not the rate you’ll be getting on a personal transfer!

Reporting Requirements

While some money transfer businesses have reporting thresholds as low as AU$1,000, any export of more than $10,000 must be reported to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC). While Australia does not restrict the flow of currency into or out of the country, these cash reporting obligations are in place under the Cash Transaction Reports Act (CTRA) to control tax evasion and money laundering.

Because you’re transferring money internationally, the banks or money transfer service you use will also be legally obliged to your report personal, identifiable information to the Australian government. This information can include:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • The name and contact information of the person who sent you the money.
  • If it’s a bank transfer, the financial details of the recipient, including SWIFT code.
  • Your banking details, including your bank account number.
  • The amount you received.
  • If you’re sending money on behalf of a company, details of the business including your employment and its Australian Business Number (ABN).

Foreign Exchange and Your Tax Obligations

Generally, there is no Australian tax applied to an inheritance, a one off gift or reward (even if it’s part of a business-like activity or it’s related to how you earn income), or any money you bring into Australia if you’re moving here for the first time. You simply need to attend to any local tax responsibilities in your home country.

If you have an international investment from which you receive returns, for example rent from an investment property overseas, you are required to report the amount as foreign investment income to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You may be required to pay tax on this money, depending on your specific circumstances.

Transferring income you’ve earned while overseas is another example of a transfer that you should declare to the ATO.

If you’re concerned about a large inheritance of money or property, speak to a tax professional to make sure that you comply with Australia’s taxation regulations.

At Ayers, we can provide you with expert advice about compliance issues surrounding foreign exchange. Talk to your Ayers account manager today.