How to Transfer Money from UAE to the UK

By 
Russell Gous
Last Edited Oct 24, 2023

You’re  looking for the best way to transfer money from the UAE to the UK.

This article illustrates why you should ditch the  old way of sending money through high-street banks.

Instead, you should consider using specialist foreign exchange companies, also known as money transfer companies.

These bank-alternatives are cheaper, more user-friendly, and will safely get your money from A to B.

UAE banks charge international wire fees up to 199 Dirham, and exchange rates that can be more than3% worse than the official interbank rate.

Currency Exchange Rates

AED to GBP

Current Rate: 0.2148 GBP

Estimated Bank Rate (2.5% markup): 0.2094 GBP

Provider Rate (0.6%): 0.2135 GBP

Indicative rates only. 2.5% was applied as the bank margin and 0.6% as the provider rates, but we don’t guarantee either.

GBP to AED

Current Rate: 4.6563 AED

Estimated Bank Rate (2.5% markup): 4.5399 AED

Provider Rate (0.6%): 4.6284 AED

Indicative rates only. 2.5% was applied as the bank margin and 0.6% as the provider rates, but we don’t guarantee either.

As such, there is a constant hunt by both migrants and international businesses to find a viable alternative.

The good news is that there are a number of specialist money transfer services in the UAE that have regularly demonstrated their ability to provide cheaper international money transfers than banks.

You can use foreign exchange companies…
– For “one-off” international money transfers or for multiple transfers
– To transfer a small amount, or a large amount with no cap
– To make international payments via an online system, or by speaking directly to a dealer

Our selection of the most recommended money transfer companies for the UAE support dozens or hundreds of different currencies.

Once you have an account set up, you can reuse it for many more international bank transfers from the UAE to almost any other location globally.

Best Way to Transfer Money from the UAE

When transferring money from the UAE to a UK bank account, these are the most recommended services. Updated for: February 2024

UAE Best Way to Transfer Money from UAE Abroad
UAE Offices:
Gate Village Building 3, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, 127676
92.8% Editorial rating
7,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AED 2000 / £250
Why Them?
  • The Only Major Foreign Exchange with Offices in UAE
  • Operating Since 1970 - First Commercial Money Transfer Company
  • Excellent Service and Guidance
+Read more
Moneycorp
Best Way to Transfer Money from UAE Abroad
92.8%
Editorial rating
UAE Best Way to Transfer Money into UAE from Abroad / Repatriate Home
Headquarters:
London
97.8% Editorial rating
7,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AED 500 / £100
Why Them?
  • Global Leaders moving $5bn annually
  • Professional and Friendly Staff, Large Money Transfer Experts
  • Average saving of more than 50+% Against UAE or UK Banks
+Read more
Currencies Direct
Best Way to Transfer Money into UAE from Abroad / Repatriate Home
97.8%
Editorial rating
UAE Best for UAE to Australia/Asia
Headquarters:
Sydney
90.4% Editorial rating
1,500 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
AED 500 / £100
Why Them?
  • 20+ Years in Existence
  • Traded Publicly
  • 20bn Turnover per Year
+Read more
OFX
Best for UAE to Australia/Asia
90.4%
Editorial rating
UAE Best for Small Online Money Transfers
Headquarters:
London
86.8% Editorial rating
32,000 Client Reviews
Minimum transfer:
No Minimum
Why Them?
  • Most Recognizable Brand in Money Transfers Today
  • Boast 1,000+ Employees and $4bn in Monthly Turnover
  • Transparent Pricing on the Site
+Read more
Wise
Best for Small Online Money Transfers
86.8%
Editorial rating

Why Do So Many People Need to Send Money from UAE Internationally?

The UAE is by and large a migrant country.

The country is continually investing in its infrastructure and is somewhat reliant on foreign workers and tourism to generate revenue.

In fact, only 12% of all of the United Arab Emirates population is Emirati.

According to data by The World Bank, 1.38 million individuals from OECD member countries (120,000 of which are Britons) currently reside in the UAE, accounting for almost 14% of its population.

As such, sending money from the UAE to the UK (UAE dirhams to UK pounds), is one of the most popular transfer corridors.

As legislation has enhanced, UAE migrants have found it more challenging to register for money transfer services with their UK address.

So if you’re living and working in Dubai or the wider UAE, it’s best to choose from the brokers listed on this page.

They all have the capacity to register individuals and businesses who are based in the UAE.

Transferring money from the UAE to the UK is almost as popular amongst our readers as the two most popular routes – transferring money from USA to UK, and transferring money from Spain to the UK.

🔎 Money transfer Dubai to UK: 

According to the British Business Group in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, in addition to the  120,000 Britons living in Dubai, there are also 6,000 UK registered businesses operating there.

As far as individuals go, there are many reasons one might send money but a very common reason is repatriating overseas earnings.

If this relates to you, it’s important to be aware of the tax implications of transferring money to the UK from UAE (more on this later).

In terms of business, total UK exports to UAE amounted to £15.6 billion in the four quarters to Q1 2023.

Evidently, there is a significant flow of money transfers from the UAE to the UK in order to purchase goods and services, but we do not know how businesses are choosing to make their sales.

It might be that UK businesses are selling locally in AED and are then required to convert AED to GBP in order to repatriate their revenues.

Or, like many international businesses, they might trade in USD.

Regardless, any time trade is occuring in a non-domestic currency, a money transfer specialist can help.

How to Send Money From UAE to the UK? (4 Step Process) 

Step 1: Choosing your provider

The two highest rated money transfer companies on Money Transfer Comparison have the capability to onboard clients in the UAE.

Currencies Direct and moneycorp make it especially easy to send money from the UAE and you can transfer funds online or via telephone.

It’s easy to register and you’ll be assigned your own personal account manager to help you through the process.

Providing you’re transferring a significant amount (at least £10,000 or AED 45,000 annually), we also think these companies will prove the cheapest way to transfer your money to the UK.

What is the cheapest way to send money from UAE to the UK

For larger amounts or those making frequent transfers, we have already suggested that currency brokers like moneycorp and Currencies Direct should prove the cheapest way to send money to the UK from the UAE.

For smaller transfers, our other recommended provider Wise is likely to prove the cheapest route.

However, it’s worth remembering that the cheapest way does not necessarily equate to the best method for your international transfer.

It’s why, when asked what is the best method, we often recommend currency brokers – who provide an experienced account manager to take you through the entire process.

They can recommend different FX solutions for your AEDGBP transfer, including  locking in today’s rate for the future or implementing a target rate that will auto-execute when it’s met.

They can also run you through the history of the currency pair, as well as highlighting what upcoming political and economic events may impact the UAE dirham to UK pound exchange rate.

If you have time on your side, all of the above factors can swing the currency, so by being savvy to these changes, you can potentially complete your transfer at a time that secures you a much better exchange rate.

Transferring Money from UAE to UK – Tax Implications

If you’re concerned about whether you will have to pay tax when you send money from UAE to UK then see our full guide to the tax implications of transferring money to the UK. This includes an explanation for those looking to send money from UAE to UK. It’s not the only factor at play, but if you’re working overseas in Dubai then much of it will come down to how many days you spend in the UK – it will need to be under 91 days.

Cost of Transferring Money from UAE with Banks

BankWire Fee
Emirates NBDAED199.00*
National Bank of Abu DhabiAED123.00*
Abu Dhabi Commercial BankAED73.00*
First Gulf BankAED73.00*
Dubai Islamic BankAED39.00*

* These are the maximum figures. May be lesser depending on the type of account and destination.

** These do not include currency exchange fees that can exceed 3% of the total cost.

Transferring Money from UAE With Different Providers

Despite the above bank fees representing maximum figures, we can still compare the estimated transfer costs and stack these up with a cheaper, non-bank alternative, for an indication of the savings to be had.

Choosing Emirates NBD for a AEDGBP transfer of AED100,000 (£22,465), would cost up to AED199 (£44.69) in fixed fees.

In addition, as of October 2023, Emirates NBD applies a 3.18% FX markup, resulting in a huge additional cost of AED3,567 (£801).

In contrast, one of our recommended providers, Wise, offer all currency exchanges at the mid-market rate with zero FX markup.

Instead, they charge a variable fee, which for a AEDGBP transfer of this size totals  just 824.33 AED (£185).

Meaning, by choosing Wise, you stand to save AED2,938 (£660) on an AED100,000 transfer, which is a huge saving!

With this information in hand, you’re now better positioned to select the best provider for your unique transfer requirements.

Step 2: Register With Your Chosen Provider

All financial service providers require new customers to complete an ID and verification check, often referred to as ‘Know Your Customer’.

This is a requirement for payment companies and banks in order to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations, which vary between regions.

We provide more details on the KYC documents required to sign up with a money transfer service here.

By registering from the UAE, there is a chance your application will be deemed as ‘high-risk’ by certain providers, requiring you to complete ‘Enhanced Due Diligence’ checks.

This should not deter you from signing up with a new provider, as this is all to support the international fight against financial crime and anti-money laundering movements.

Ultimately, this helps to create a safer and more secure market for yourself and others.

There is also a high chance that the process will be simplified for British expats.

Step 3: Format the Details of Your Bank Transfer

Once you’ve completed your verification process, you’re ready to format the details of your transfer.

Depending on the provider you’ve chosen, you will either complete this process online, or have the option to do so over the phone if you’ve selected a currency broker.

Either way, inputting the beneficiary details accurately is very important to help prevent delays.

Or worse, transferring your money to the wrong UK account.

UK bank accounts all have an International Bank Account Number (IBAN), which you’ll need to know to complete your transfer.

Normally, an IBAN is listed in the payment details of an invoice.

You can also use an IBAN generator to help you find the correct details.

IBAN Format for Transferring Money to the UK

A wire transfer to a GBP account from the UAE is formatted with an IBAN in the following format:

22 Alphanumeric characters

GBkk BBBB SSSS SSCC CCCC CC

GB = Country Code

kk = Check Digits

B = First four of BIC

S = Sort Code

C = Account No

You may also be required to provide a SWIFT code. Similar to an IBAN, each bank has a unique code and you can find a list of UK SWIFT codes here.

With the beneficiary details now complete, it’s time to confirm the amount of AED you want to convert, or alternatively, the amount of GBP you want the beneficiary to receive.

At this stage you can confirm and secure the exchange rate.

By doing so, your request to convert AED-GBP now becomes a legal contract.

Step 4: Settle Your Deal and Your Funds Will Soon Hit Your UK Account

To settle your trade, your provider will supply their account number and any payment reference details to include when you transfer the funds.

Transfers can take up to 1-2 working days but are sometimes faster.

Inputting the correct payment reference can help speed up this process so it’s important you do so accurately.

⭐ Best Way to Transfer Money From UAE-UK For Overseas Property Purchase / Paying Overseas Mortgage ⭐

Currencies Direct is our recommended provider if you’re living in the UAE and are looking to buy a property in the UK.

They have a great range of FX hedging tools, including forward contracts, which allows you to secure today’s exchange rate for a set period of up to two years.

Their team of currency experts can talk you through how to best utilise these products to get the most out of your international transfer and help keep you within budget.

Currencies Direct also offers forward contracts on regular automated payments.

Meaning you can also benefit from this tool if you already own a property in the UK and need to regularly make overseas mortgage payments, or for repatriating rental yields.

Final Thoughts: Using a Money Transfer Service to Transfer Money from UAE

If you’re solely looking for the cheapest way to transfer your funds, the biggest determining factor will be the total amount you’re looking to transfer.

Transfers Under AED 90,000: Wise will likely prove to be the cheapest option. It is also worth comparing costs with a currency broker if you do already have an account, as you may be able to make greater savings by timing your trade correctly to capitalise on a favourable currency swing.

Transfers Over AED 90,000: We recommend using Currencies Direct or moneycorp. By choosing one of these two providers for larger transfers, you stand to make huge savings versus using a bank. Not only that, you’ll receive first class guidance from experienced staff, and you may even be able to negotiate your FX spread to secure a better rate.

In summary, by  choosing a money transfer service over a bank you can

  • Avoid paying wire fees of  up to 200 Dirham with a bank
  • Always secure a bank-beating exchange rate
  • Gain access to an online money transfer system to DIY, or, alternatively, speak directly to a professional over the phone
  • Receive support and step-by-step guidance from experienced and dedicated dealers when  transferring large amounts.
  • Utilise tools like Forward Contract to hedge rates for added security
  • Complete your transfer safely, securely and with confidence, as allll companies recommended by us for transferring money from UAE abroad have a 95% or higher satisfaction rate