International transfer

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Under international transfer is understood colloquially a transfer in cashless payment transactions , wherein the payer of a country by means of transfer to his account-operating bank deposit money at the expense of his current account via the bank account of the payee of another country can be transferred to the latter.


In foreign trade , the foreign transfer is the most widely used payment instrument. If the international transfer is not linked to a letter of credit or document collection , the term clean payment is used. Since the abolition of the EU transfer by the European Payments Committee in December 2011 and since the creation of the European Payments Area (SEPA) in March 2012, the term international transfer has only had a colloquial meaning. This cross-border credit transfers meant that a resident to a foreigner based in foreign makes, or vice versa. In the uniform euro payment area, there are no longer any technical differences between domestic and international transfers, so that the bank customer does not have to think about the location of the recipient bank and the recipient. Today, foreign transfers in euros are made exclusively using SEPA, while the SWIFT system, which has been in use since 1973, or other systems are used in foreign currencies . The bank customer must regularly provide his account-holding bank with the required recipient data - recipient name, recipient institution and, in particular, the international bank account number (IBAN). Up to February 2016, the BIC was also required.


Since the liberalization of international capital movements after the Second World War, major German and foreign credit institutions have made international transfers by letter or telegraph . On the basis of a transfer order from their bank customer, they selected their correspondent bank abroad, which acted as the recipient's account-keeping bank or as the forwarding bank. Postings were made through the account connections of the correspondent banks with one another, both in the value date and in the cover ratio . These international transfers had two major disadvantages. According to a study by the European Commission from 1993, the average duration of international transfers was 4.6 days, the maximum duration up to 14 weeks. In addition, the bank fees were quite high, which was also due to the "double charging", in which intermediary banks deducted their fees from the transfer amount and only passed on the reduced transfer amount, which was again reduced by the fees of the recipient bank .

Efforts throughout Europe to install a homogeneous cross-border payment system have been in place since January 1997 with Directive 97/5 / EC of January 27, 1997 on cross-border transfers. The Regulation (EC) no. 2560/2001 of 19 December 2001 unified the fees frame between domestic and international transfer. This regulation and the Payment Services Directive 2007/64 / EC of November 13, 2007 ultimately led to a standardization of the entire set of rules on cross-border payments through Regulation (EC) No. 924/2009 of September 16, 2009.

A very recent development is the emergence of peer-to-peer online money transfer services such as B. TransferWise , which allows individual customers to make international transfers at the low interbank spot rate and for fees that are well below the tariffs of the established banks.

Used banking systems

All transfer systems run in the background for bank customers at credit institutions.

Transfer orders to countries that do not belong to the EMU are mainly routed via the SWIFT system, which has existed since 1973 . This international cooperative maintains a global telecommunications network that plays an important role in the standardized execution of financial transactions . For this purpose, SWIFT addresses are given on the transfer orders, which provide information about the country, location and name of the beneficiary bank. In addition to this standardized communication, a functioning network of correspondent banks is also essential for the smooth processing of transfer orders.

The TARGET system is suitable for transfer orders in large- value and individual payment transactions . This interbank system connects a total of sixteen major banks, consisting of the European Central Bank (ECB) and national central banks in Europe. The advantage of TARGET lies in the fast processing of transfers that are carried out on the same day of payment. The ordering and receiving banks do not have to be in correspondence with one another.

Since payment transactions in Europe have in fact developed into domestic payment transactions due to the euro currency conversion in January 2002, the banks are only allowed to charge corresponding domestic fees for transfers in euros on the basis of Regulation (EC) No. 924/2009 of September 16, 2009. With the EU price regulation , which came into force in 2003, all banks were obliged to adjust the usual international transfers up to an amount of EUR 12,500 in favor of accounts within the euro-participating countries to the prices of a domestic transfer. Since January 1, 2006, this price limit has been increased to 50,000 euros. These transfers are also known as EU standard transfers .

The wide range of payment transactions is sometimes processed via EBA STEP . With this procedure, the ordering bank forwards the payment order to a specific bank with which it was previously agreed that it will carry out further payment processing. However, the confirmation of the current payment is forwarded directly to the recipient bank, which requires a SWIFT address to be given anyway. The international bank account number (IBAN) also facilitates payment within Europe, provided these are not standard EU transfers.

The BIC of the beneficiary's bank is necessary for the instructed bank and speeds up processing. EU transfers are international transfers in euros, stating the IBAN and BIC (see SWIFT ). According to the EU price regulation, these are to be carried out within the European Union at the same price as a domestic transfer.

AWV reporting obligation

For reasons of reporting regulations in foreign trade for the purpose of collecting the balance of payments and foreign trade statistics , the resident liable to pay (for payments to foreigners ) and the domestic payee (for payments from foreigners) according to Section 67 (1) AWV from a reporting threshold of more than EUR 12,500 or the equivalent in Foreign currency (Section 67 (2) AWV) to report outgoing or incoming payments using the “ Payment order in foreign trade ” (Z1 / Z4) form (Section 67 (4) AWV). Export earnings, import payments and certain payments for short-term loans are exempt from the reporting requirement . In the case of cross-border payments, credit institutions automatically point out that these reporting obligations must be observed by the debtor or payee.

This constellation is often the case with international transfers. The report is made in Germany to the Bundesbank ; failure to comply can be punished as an administrative offense. Since the bank does not know whether a foreign account belongs to a resident or a non-resident foreigner, it cannot automatically report outgoing or incoming payments, even if the payment is made in an amount that exceeds the amount limit (instead of e.g. on the same day 'split' payments - smurfing - which are still notifiable). The payee / payer is therefore obliged to report. When the AWV changes come into force on September 1, 2013, these reports must generally be submitted electronically directly to the Deutsche Bundesbank . The transfer data are used to compile Germany's foreign trade statistics and are only saved for a short time. A transfer of the data to the tax office or similar does not take place; the report does not have any consequences under tax law and is neither necessary nor allowed at all if the foreign account is your own (payments from the foreign account to foreigners, however, are again subject to reporting).

Private individuals can do the reporting requirement by telephone at the Bundesbank.


These transfers incur higher fees, sometimes at the expense of the recipient. The sender of the transfer can define the distribution of the fees:

  • OUR ( sender pays costs ): The sender usually pays all costs of the transaction in advance in advance. After determining the costs that have become necessary, an invoice will be issued. This makes it the most complex method of negotiating fees between sender and recipient. This form is not offered by all banks.
  • SHARE ( share costs ): The fees are shared, the sender pays his bank, the recipient bears the remaining costs. While the costs of the sender are paid separately, the payment is made by the recipient by deducting the fees by each intermediary bank and the beneficiary bank from the transfer amount. As a rule, however, the receipt of international transfers is subject to little or no fees. Under these circumstances, the recipient will receive the transfer amount originally transferred. It is the most common breakdown of fees in cross-border payments by bank transfer.
  • BEN ( beneficiary pays costs ): The sender pays nothing, all costs are charged to the recipient (beneficiary). In the case of the BEN transfer, the fee of the transferring, each intermediary and the beneficiary bank must be factored in. The payment of the fee is made by the bank deducting the transfer amount. It is only used for a small part of international transactions.

Individual evidence

  1. Dietmar Sternad / Meinrad Höfferer / Gottfried Haber, Basics of Export and Internationalization , 2013, p. 241
  2. Debtor - payee
  3. Debtor-account-keeping bank / payee-account-keeping bank; see instruction
  4. ^ Matthias M. Arndt: The Interbank Relationship in Transfer Law , 2012, p. 268, FN 945
  5. ^ Matthias M. Arndt: The Interbank Relationship in Transfer Law , 2012, p. 121.
  6. also SEPA -Payments in euros are affected by this
  7. Annex Z1 and Z4 to the AWV Bundesbank ( Memento from August 22, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) , 2008

See also

Web links