Barclays PIN Sentry
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How have people brought their money over to the UK? I’m trying not to bring large sums in cash. Do people write a cheque to themselves and deposit it when they arrive and start a bank account?

– Johnny

Dear Johnny,

This is a great question! There are a few options to transferring your money abroad, though they both have their pros and cons.

First, I will tell you how I did it:

Cash Withdrawals

I have a bank account with Scotiabank which is part of the Global ATM Alliance. What this means is that as a client of one bank you are eligible to withdraw money from any of the partner banks abroad without incurring an ATM fee. I used this to my advantage, and upon arrival I withdrew a few hundred pounds in cash from a Barclays cash point.

In Canada, I learned from a teller that they are often able to access banking information from accounts in the Global ATM Alliance, so that weighed heavily on my decision to open an account with Barclays. Once the account was open, I withdrew money from my Scotia account and deposited it into my Barclays account.

This is a good strategy if you have a high withdrawal limit and no restrictions on using ATMs. Of course, it isn’t really the most efficient way to bring money over, especially if you’re not already banking with a Global ATM Alliance bank like I was.


While I was travelling around Morocco, I used some Canadian credit cards and I’ve been using Transferwise to send money between my UK and Canadian account to pay it off. On a £700 transfer, I got the market exchange rate and only paid a £3 fee, which is AMAZING. The only downside is that the transfer can take a few days to go through. The reason they can get you such good rates is that the company combines your transfer with other people who are making the same transfer (e.g. UK to Canada) to get a bulk rate. It may take a few days to reach the minimum.

I would highly recommend using Transferwise (that link will get you a $500 transfer completely free of charge on a new account!) — the rates are awesome and the process is really easy to use.

International Wire Transfer

Now, this is a bit more complicated and varies depending on where you bank.

From what I’ve read, RBC is the only bank that will allow you to send money abroad using online banking. With any wire transfer, there is usually a delay of a few business days.

Scotiabank uses Western Union for money transfers, and will charge you a fee. It’s fast, but it’s not the most cost-effective way to send money!

On the off-chance you already have a bank account in the UK, you can set up a wire transfer in person at your bank branch before you leave Canada. Alternatively, you could have a trusted friend or family member do it from their account.

What you will need:

  • The full name, address including city, province/state, and country, and account number of the person you are sending money to
  • The full name and address including city, province/state, and country of the financial institution receiving the funds
  • The amount and currency of the transfer
  • BIC and IBAN numbers of the receiving account


Unlike in Canada and US, PayPal does not charge a fee for withdrawing funds to your bank account in the UK. There is a limit to the amount you can withdraw before you have to verify your account, but it’s a very simple process. Once that is done, the funds usually show up in your account almost immediately.

The only issue with PayPal is that they do charge a fee for sending money (typically 4-5%) and the exchange rate you get isn’t always the best.

I hope that helps and has given you a few more options for sending money to the UK!

How did you get your money over to the UK? Did you find this process an easy one? Let me know in the comments and help some other readers!

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7 thoughts on “Reader Question # 4: How to Bring Money Over to the UK?”

  1. Hi Alyssa,

    Wondering if you might have thoughts on my scenario:
    My grandmother died last year and left her estate to me. She had bank accounts in Canada but I live in the UK. Probate is now complete and the banks in Canada are suggesting to send a bank draft for the balances to me. I’m wondering if bank draft is the only or best way to transfer the CAD to UK bank account? I don’t want to pay hefty bank fees or lose out depending on the exchange rate the bank uses.

  2. You must declare cash of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you take it between the UK and any non-European Union (EU) country.
    Cash includes:

    notes and coins
    bankers’ drafts
    cheques of any kind (including travellers’ cheques)
    If you’re travelling as a family you need to declare cash over €10,000.Download and fill in form C9011 or get a copy at the port or airport.
    Make a copy – if you fill in the form at the port or airport, it automatically makes a carbon copy.
    Leave a copy in the drop-box at the port or airport and keep the other to show custom officers.You could face a penalty of up to £5,000 if you don’t declare your cash or give incorrect information.

    Your declared cash can be seized by customs officers if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a crime. They can keep the cash for 48 hours – after that they need a court order.

  3. Hi Alyssa,

    My comment is more so for your article Arriving in the UK on a YMV, but the comments section is closed.

    So my current situation is, I got my Tier 5 visa, my arrival date will be on or after Feb 18, 2015, I have not booked my flight yet or place to stay. I used my cousins address on my application but she is in the middle of a move. So that address will not be valid, how do I go abouts to change that? Do I need to apply again or do I just need to inform them with an address change form? Also, I was checking out this website for getting all my stuff set up like bank account, NI and NHS; – what are your thoughts on that option? I do have an idea for my bank which my dad has a HSBC account where he has money for me and he will add my name to the account so I can use it overseas too (will that be good? or should I contact a bank in UK?)


    1. Hi Liza,

      It’s fine, you don’t need to change anything…just write it on your customs card when you arrive.

      I don’t know – I don’t recommend any programs or sites I haven’t used. I know a friend who used Britbound and had a good experience. As I wrote in my post, I handled these things myself.

      If you plan on having a job and getting paid, I’m pretty sure you will need a British account.

      I hope that helps!

    2. Hi Liza!
      I am arriving on Feb 26 and am having a lot of the same questions you have 🙂 maybe we can even work together to figure it all out!

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