How to transfer money from India to UK online?
That’s EXACTLY what I am going to show you: best ways to send money from India to UK legally at the best rates – minus the hassle.
If you need to send money from India to overseas to pay for your financial commitments, overseas education expenses, overseas travel, maintenance of your loved ones, medical treatment, foreign investments, visa fees or a gift, this post should help you make an informed choice.
As you can appreciate, it is easy to send funds freely from the UK to India but relatively hard to get funds back to the UK.
That’s the reason, you must have seen a lot of references to the UK to India money transfers online but not so many for the international money transfer from India to the UK.
When you need to transfer money out from India, you need to consider a few things like legality, fees, reliability, taxation and transfer timelines as these could influence your decision. I’ve tried to cover most of them in this post.
The options I talk about in this guide are to remit money from India to the UK but most things apply for other corridors as well from India (to USA, Europe, UAE and Canada transfers).
Let me know if you want me to do a separate post for you.
I will also answer a few queries one-by-one along the way that I found answers to after flipping through 100s of pages on the internet.
Ok, let’s jump right in then…
Disclaimer: As extensive as I would like this guide to be covering all the available methods, I might not have covered ALL the providers/companies that offer money transfer from India. I will keep updating this post as I get more feedback in the comments. This post contains some affiliate links that might provide a small commission to me at absolutely no extra cost to you if you use my links to signup and transfer money. However, these are the best ways to transfer money from India to UK (INR to GBP) that I found effective for 2021. For more information, you can read my affiliate disclosure.
In a hurry? Here’s a quick summary for you:
- Best Options Overall: Transfer Money from India to the UK
- Can you transfer money to UK from India?
- How to transfer money from India to the UK
- 1. Exchange with a friend who needs cash in India.
- 2. Use an online international money transfer service
- 3. Check with your Indian bank to send money to UK bank account
- 4. Interbank transfer – Indian bank to send money to their own branch in the UK
- Summary – Best way to transfer money from India to UK
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Options Overall: Transfer Money from India to the UK
If you cannot go through the whole post now, here I have listed the best online money transfers from India to the United Kingdom, overall.
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Ok, let’s get started.
Why did I write this guide?
Recently, I was helping a friend for information on how to transfer money from India to the UK to fund his house purchase here.
He sold his ancestral land in India and wanted to bring the money legally from India to the UK.
I got into my research mode and started exploring as I had never moved money in the reverse direction myself (India to the UK).
But the first question I had in my mind was this.
Can you transfer money to UK from India?
The answer is Yes.
If you think getting money into India from abroad is much easier as compared to getting it out, well, you are right.
There are restrictions that apply on outward remittances from India to the UK (or anywhere abroad) and you need to abide by them before making your transfer.
Only the banks and companies that are authorised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) can carry out outward remittances from India.
Be mindful of the fact that FEMA guidelines for Outward Remittance apply when you try moving money from India to abroad.
Send money from India to the UK: Are there any legal restrictions?
As you would, I started my research with a simple google search “can I transfer money from India to the UK.”
To my dismay, Google couldn’t help much at it only serves what has been indexed. I found a few threads on various forums with the same query.
I didn’t get the answer to my query as a simple “Yes” or a “No.”
This is crazy:
Besides so many people asking the same question on different forums on the internet, I did not find a satisfactory answer in one place.
There is a lot of conflicting information floating about on this topic, and not a single forum/guide exists that caters to all the queries and concerns – in one place – around foreign outward remittance from India to the UK.
By the way, I found:
The banking term used in India for the reverse transaction is “foreign outward remittance.”
I read a lot of articles and forum posts hoping to find an answer and gathered a lot of information along the way.
In short, this is what I found:
With money transfer companies like TransferWise, it is effortless to send money to India from the UK, but most of these companies do not have a licence for the reverse remittance (from India to the UK).
And that’s where things are not very pleasant – for reverse transfer from India to UK, I mean!
Bringing foreign currency into India is rather easy.
But money transfer from India to UK, on the other hand, involves more complexity!
IF you’re an NRI, one of the below situations would apply you. If you are NOT a person of Indian origin, you can directly skip to your remittance options.
Repatriation from an NRE account
Under the liberalisation scheme of the RBI, the money you have in your NRE (Non-Resident External) account is freely repatriable meaning no formalities or permissions are required for remittances abroad for any amount.
The funds in NRE account are in the first place deposited from abroad or are accrued from the interest or dividends paid from foreign investments so remitting them from India to abroad is relatively less hassle.
Repatriation from NRO account
If the funds you want to remit from India are in an NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account meaning the funds are from income earned in India, you need to meet the legal restrictions and limits.
With NRO account, the remittance limit per year is USD $1 million subject to meeting procedural formalities. Like, you need to get a certification from a CA for taxes paid on your income in India.
What are your options then?
I thought why not publish all the information that I gathered during the research and publish a comprehensive step-by-step guide on money transfer from India to the UK?
Well, here it is!
How to transfer money from India to the UK
Below are a few ways for safe and secure outward remittance from India legally to a country overseas, in this case, the UK.
The method and ways mentioned here won’t be vastly different if you were to do a money transfer from India to the US, Canada, UAE or any other country.
Ok, let’s look at the options to find for you the best way to send money from India to the UK.
1. Exchange with a friend who needs cash in India.
Simple – the very idea that TransferWise works on – you pay money to a bank account in the UK and TransferWise pay you from their account in India P2P (person to person) exchange of currency.
The money never leaves the UK physically.
You can take matters into your own hands; get pounds from your friend in the UK and pay them in Indian Rupees.
You can agree on a rate so that you both feel satisfied with the transaction.
Restricting a transaction within your circle of friends, family members and colleagues, you can avoid bad exchange rate, transaction fees and all the paper-work (aka hassle) for transfer of money from India to the UK.
Note: You need to take care of the tax implications with this method (and for that matter all other methods on this list). Make sure when you exchange currencies with a friend, all applicable taxes have been paid in both the countries. If you have any concerns going with this option (or any other option I have listed on this page), please consult with your accountant.
2. Use an online international money transfer service
You might consider your local bank as the most obvious way to send money to the UK from India.
BUT banks are not always the best option as they are not the cheapest as they usually have very unfavourable exchange rates.
Money transfer companies offer a good alternative with competitive exchange rates and low fees.
When I started writing this guide, I was looking for low-cost, secure online money transfer services to simplify the process of sending money from India to the UK for a friend.
Essentially, you’d still transfer money from Indian bank to UK bank account abroad.
Instead of making a direct bank-to-bank transfer (which is expensive), you use an intermediary company that offers international money transfer from India and doesn’t keep a hidden mark-up on the currency exchanges and charges low transparent fees.
Until not too long ago, none of the money transfer services had RBI permission for outward remittances from India.
RBI then granted permission to a fairly new entrant to the UK-India corridor – InstaReM.
A short while later, TransferWise got the RBI permissions as well to transfer money to the UK from India.
Both TransferWise and InstaReM offer a real mid-market exchange rate with no added mark-up and transparent upfront fees.
(you’ll always see the total amount your recipient will receive upfront)
Here’s how InstaReM and TransferWise compare when sending ₹100,000 to the UK from India.
|Sending ₹100,000 with||Exchange rate (1 GBP → INR)||Transfer fee||Recipient gets (Total after fees)|
Table updated: 10 Dec 2020 11:35 UK time.
InstaReM is quite popular for its remittance services for Australia to India and UK to India money transfers and started online money transfer to the UK from India a few years ago.
How to send money from India to the UK online with InstaReM?
Here are the easy steps to quickly send money from India to the UK with InstaReM.
- Step #1. Create your free account with InstaReM using our link
- Step #2. Upload verification documents
- Step #3. Initiate your first transfer
(Use the InstaReM promo code “COMPARISM10” to get an instant ₹700 discount on your first transfer)
- Step #4. Enter your recipient details and pay for your transfer
InstaReM charges ~1% for India to UK money transfers. Compared to TransferWise, InstaReM offers a more competitive transfer fees model so the overall deal comes out cheaper with InstaReM.
TransferWise, a very popular service for the UK to India transfers started offering India to UK money transfer service recently.
Read my detailed TransferWise review here.
How to send money to the United Kingdom from India online with TransferWise?
Here’s how you do it in 4 easy steps!
- Step #1. Create your free account at TransferWise.
- Step #2. Enter how much you want to send in INR – you will be shown the equivalent amount you will get in GBP in the UK.
Click “Get started”(The smallest amount you can send with TransferWise from India is ₹20,000.)
- Step #3. Enter recipient details and follow the on-screen instructions to initiate your transfer
- Step #4. Pay the money in INR to TransferWise
With TransferWise, you can pay in INR with your debit card or credit card, or send the money to TransferWise Indian bank account using your online banking account.
The money is then locally delivered in the UK directly from TransferWise’s local UK bank account. That is how the transfer fees are kept competitive as the money doesn’t need to physically leave India.
You might be asked to verify your identity before the transfer is initiated – this is pretty standard security procedure and you can upload your documents when asked.
TransferWise charges a flat fee of INR 499.95 + 1.78% of the amount that’s converted.
As I mentioned and will discuss further as we go along in this post, I found a few other ways while helping my friend in getting his money from selling the property in India to the UK, but they mostly all needed paperwork (and associated hassle).
With both InstaReM and TransferWise, sending money from India to the UK doesn’t involve any unnecessary paperwork. However, you do need to provide verification documents at the time of sign up which is a one-time task.
Can you use services offering cash pick-up location?
Some of the money transfer companies give you the option choose cash pick up service (like Azimo or Western Union).
Western Union also have an online bank-to-bank money transfer service now but I haven’t used them yet – if you do, I’d like to know how your experience was, so drop a comment below.
I don’t recommend pickup option over the online bank to bank transfer.
Cash pick up services might be fast but not the cheapest when it comes to getting the best deal on your money transfer so worth keeping that in mind when you choose the cash pick-up option.
And also, the “fast” part is no longer unique to cash pick up services. As technology advances, the time it takes for money to reach overseas will keep improving.
So unless you really need it, there’s no added advantage over the modern disruptive way of moving money.
How cash pick-up works:
- Find a company that also has a service branch in the UK (companies like Western Union have a lot of high street outlets)
- Hand over the funds and pay the fees in India
- After payment, you will get a reference number which you can pass on to the recipient overseas (never share this number with anyone else as anybody with the number can collect the money)
If you want to know more about the pickup services, you can check out my post I did earlier on the available options in details – again, I don’t recommend this over the other available methods.
3. Check with your Indian bank to send money to UK bank account
Many banks offer outward remittance service to transfer money from India to all around the globe even if you do not have an account with them.
When you want to move a large amount of money from India to overseas, you’d trust your bank to be the go-to option but be careful with what they offer.
What are the overall fees, the exchange rate, how much will effectively reach your recipient – should be the questions you need to ask.
Banks tend to be expensive compared to other options as they offer poor rates and charge unreasonable transaction fees.
Comparing the overall amount with other money transfer options will give you a clear picture of the best way to transfer your money overseas to the UK from India.
4. Interbank transfer – Indian bank to send money to their own branch in the UK
As an example, open a Citibank/HSBC/SBI account in the UK and then open an account with their branch in India.
Many UK high street banks have their own branches or have special arrangements with local banks in India.
Compared to Wire Transfers from an Indian bank to the overseas bank, Interbank transfers may end up being a bit cheaper, and quicker because of lower charges and better exchange rates compared to cross-bank transfers.
You need to determine this by comparing the overall amount your recipient gets in the end after deducting all fees and charges.
- International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Bank Identifier Code (BIC) for your recipient
- IBAN and BIC codes from your own bank account. If you are making a transfer using the same bank in India (like ICICI India to ICICI UK), you won’t require this.
You don’t necessarily need to hold a bank account to use the wire transfer services provided by that bank.
What is a Direct Wire Transfer?
These are direct money transfers from your bank account in India to your beneficiary’s bank account in the UK. Wire transfer would sometimes seem to be one of the most convenient ways to transfer money abroad.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the cheapest.
When you instruct your bank to initiate a wire transfer from India to the UK, you aren’t guaranteed the best rates for sending money from India to the UK as banks normally add a markup to your forex rate.
Compare the amount you need to pay to your India bank to get the same amount overseas vs using a company like InstaReM for example. Include all the fees using both methods before making a decision.
Generally, here are the details you would need to initiate a wire transfer from India to the UK:
- Identity and address proofs (for KYC process)
- A declaration stating the purpose of transfer
- Name of the recipient
- Recipient bank account details (SWIFT code, Bank name and address)
To transfer money from India to UK or any other country via Wire Transfer, you’ll need to visit the bank.
Also, for most banks, you don’t need to hold an account in the bank to make the wire transfer.
Wire transfers are available for non-account holders too. Account holders of any Bank in India (resident and non-resident) can do a wire transfer from India.
Tell your bank branch that you need to wire transfer money and you will be given a form. Mention the overseas bank account (recipient details, SWIFTBIC code) and your details and the bank official will guide you through the process.
For wire transfers, the banks initiate the transaction using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network, shortly and commonly known as SWIFT.
There is another way you can start a bank-to-bank transfer – Netbanking.
To initiate a wire transfer using SWIFT (above), you need to visit the bank.
But if you have net banking service activated for your bank account, you don’t need to. You can initiate the transfer online from the comfort of your home.
All you need is the net banking login details for your bank account and the bank account details along with the SWIFT code of the recipient’s bank.
Here are a few other options of remitting money from India to UK:
- Western Union
- PayPal – not a cheap option for transferring money from India to the UK
- Foreign Currency Demand Drafts: Using this, the recipient can withdraw money send by you in their local currency. This option involves a time-consuming process and is expensive.
Summary – Best way to transfer money from India to UK
So there it is.
My quest for the easiest and the best way to bring money from India to the UK started to help a friend and this article sums up the viable legit options I came across.
I hope you now have a better understanding of outward remittance from India and specifically, how to transfer money from India to UK online.
For me, InstaReM and TransferWise offer a great hassle-free service and are one of the few companies who are permitted by RBI to do such transfers.
If you decide to use InstaReM, check out the exclusive deal to get ₹700 off your first transfer and loyalty points worth £7.20 for your next one. Don’t forget to use our exclusive coupon COMPARISM10.
Saved you some money there!
Which one of these did you find as the best approach to get funds in the UK? Or did you use a method that’s not on this list? 😉
Do let me know in the comment section below which option you picked and why – I would love to know about your experience.
If you have already moved money from India to the UK/USA/Canada or any other country, do drop a line below with details of the pros and cons you faced.