Transferring money from the UK to Europe is generally a pretty straightforward affair.
When you’re sending euros to one of the 36 countries that are part of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), it’s actually very simple.
Don’t let this simplicity trick you.
It’s still very easy to get your fingers burned and lose a lot of money in the process.
If you’re exchanging pounds to euros, you could lose a sizable chunk of money to some not-so-visible charges which are hidden in the exchange rate.
In most cases, the single most important thing you can do is side-step your bank and consider specialist international money transfer services.
In this guide, we’ll explain more about SEPA, the best way to go about transferring pounds to euros, and the common pitfalls to avoid.
On a country level, this guide will also provide information on:
- Transferring money from the UK to Italy
- Transferring money from the UK to Portugal
- Transferring money from the UK to Germany
- Transferring money from the UK to Ireland
- Transferring money from the UK to Austria
- Transferring money from the UK to Netherlands
- Transferring money from the UK to Greece
- Transferring money from the UK to Cyprus
- Transferring money from the UK to Malta
- Transferring money from the UK to Luxembourg
- Transferring money from the UK to Belgium
- Transferring money from the UK to Estonia
- Transferring money from the UK to Lithuania
- Transferring money from the UK to Slovenia
- Transferring money from the UK to Finland
See our dedicated guides if you’re looking to send money to France, send money to Scandinavia, send money to Switzerland or transfer money to Spain. View our best euro accounts if you want to open a bank-like account to receive euro payments.
So whether you’re an individual transferring money to Europe, or you’re a business with suppliers to pay in Europe, this guide will explain how to do it fast and how to save money in the process.
⭐ What is the Best Way to Send Money to Europe? ⭐
Sending Money From / To
View all routes on our sending money abroad guide
About Our Selection
Headquartered in the UK, these currency brokers are exceptionally experienced in helping customers send money to Europe from the UK.
For most of these firms, GBPEUR transfers are the no.1 priority for their customer-base and they’ve been helping clients’ save money for over 20 years.
Currencies Direct is arguably the most European friendly.
They have website translations in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Italian, and their highly-experienced support staff can speak these languages too.
On top of this, the firm holds local offices in Portugal and Spain.
Ultimately, all of these brokers offer bank-beating exchange rates, no transfer fees and expert dealer guidance.
You’ll have the opportunity to access a range of currency tools which can protect you from future currency movements or make a trade once a certain GBPEUR rate is met.
Most popular destinations in Europe for Transferring money from UK
Other than of course Spain and France being the “queens of British property abroad”, transferring money from the UK to Portugal is extremely popular nowadays with its property prices ballooning indefinitely. What was once considered a second grade country by Brits is now on par with anywhere else in Europe and even more. Similarly, Italy has its evergreen charm as a great country to live in, with beautiful views, food and mentality which appeals to many Brits (same allure as Portugal, Spain or South of France), and hence many of our readers are seeking to transfer money to Italy.
Cyprus and Greece definitely have their popularity as well when it comes to overseas property, being sunny countries with affordable houses (and some money transfer companies like Currency Solutions have even set foot and have local offices in Cyprus).
Then more popular destinations are Germany as many Brits work in Germany and need to send money from Germany to UK as repatriation. Similarly the Netherlands, many British companies have offices in Holland and transfer money from UK to the Netherlands frequently.
Of course one last European country which is very popular for Brits is Ireland. Many Irish people reside in the UK and many Brits reside in Ireland sharing the same mentality, language and culture to a large agree (though some Brits and Irish people may not agree with that at all!)… and there is a constant bilateral movement of expatriates between the two countries. As Ireland is a part of the EU, money transfers to UK from Ireland are a hot commodity.
How to Transfer Money to a European Bank Account
Follow these five steps to send money to Europe from the UK:
Step 1: Sign Up With a Provider (Preferably One With UK+EU Offices)
First, choose and register from any of the 90+ providers we have reviewed on MoneyTransferComparison.com.
On this page we have listed our top 10 recommended providers to send money to Europe.
Registration is absolutely free with all of these providers and indeed with 99% of the companies we have reviewed across the site.
It’s easy to register online or, in some cases, through the provider’s app.
As with any financial services provider,to prove your identity and get your account authorised.
This is required to help combat money laundering and fraud.
Nevertheless, registration should take no longer than a few minutes and your account should be fully activated same-day providing nothing flags up.
If you opted for one of our recommended foreign exchange brokers, you will also be appointed your own account manager at this stage.
Before you jump in completely, we recommend registering with two or three providers so it makes it easier to compare their exchange rates before you hit send.
Step 2: Decide on type of transfers
Secondly, decide on the type of transfer you want to make.
If you think it might be worth hedging the currency markets, you do have some options available to you through a currency broker.
The most popular tool is a forward contract.
It’s a complete hedge against movements in the market as it simply guarantees today’s exchange rate for a point in the future.
It protects you from any downside movements but also means you won’t benefit from any future upside movements.
It’s a great tool when you’re transferring money to Europe for the purpose of buying a property.
There’s no need to worry if the property will remain within budget. You’ll know exactly how much you need to pay.
You can’t access these sorts of solutions through online providers like Wise.
In our view, this makes online providers more suitable for smaller volumes. Transfers are fast, the fees are low and arranging a transfer through the app is easy.
Step 3: Get a Quote for GBPEUR
Third, either input the amount you want to trade online or speak to your designated account manager to get a quote.
If you’re sending a large amount (£25,000+) we would recommend speaking to your broker to see if you can negotiate a better rate.
Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to register with more than one provider and at this point you can compare the rates to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
When you’re happy you’ve found the best GBPEUR exchange rate, accept the FX rate.
At this point you make a legally binding contract to sell sterling for euros so be sure you’re ready to proceed.
Your provider will purchase the currency instantly, and if you opt to cancel the transfer, you will be liable to pay any costs the provider has incurred to reverse it.
Step 4: Input Details
Next, it’s time to input the beneficiary details, i.e. the account the money is going to.
The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is the standard that governs European bank account numbers and is one of the cornerstones of SEPA.
So whether you’re sending money to Germany or transferring money to Greece, you always need an IBAN.
If you don’t know the IBAN, ask your recipient or use an online IBAN generator.
Step 5: Fund and Settle Your Trade
Lastly, you will need to settle your trade.
If it’s a small amount, you should be able to do this by debit card (which is also the fastest settlement method) or, for larger amounts, you may have to do this by funding the trade with a local bank transfer.
Your provider will supply you with their settlement account and any details you should include in the reference.
Simply log into your online banking and make the transfer.
Be sure to include any reference details which are requested to avoid any delays to the transfer.
Do all of this and you’re in the process of transferring money to Europe.
Track the status of your payment with your provider’s online platform and wait for it to complete.
SEPA & How it’s Made it Easier to Send Money to Europe From the UK
Since the launch of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), customers have been able to make digital bank transfers to anywhere in the European Union, as well as a number of non-EU countries, in a fast, safe and efficient manner.
The singular SEPA network, which was first introduced in 2008 and reached full implementation by 2014, makes a European transfer just as easy as making a domestic transfer.
By harmonising standards in all the participating countries, it has drastically improved the efficiency in which payments can be made.
Those old enough to remember transferring money to Europe in a pre-SEPA era would know the complexities that came with sending money to certain countries.
For example, trying to send money to Italy from the UK was always notoriously cumbersome.
SEPA was launched by the European banking and payments industry with the support of national governments, including that of the United Kingdom.
Despite the UK leaving the EU, it remains part of the SEPA network in which it was such a crucial member to form.
Transferring money from the UK to Europe after Brexit still sees EUR transfers made on the SEPA network.
For this reason, it means that payment fees to send money to Europe from the UK are either minimal or non-existent.
This is even true for UK banks who charge hefty fees for payments made to the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, it’s not so true for some European Banks who have decided to implement ‘rest of world fees’ for those sending money from the UK.
Even the payment is processed over the low-cost SEPA network. Pretty outrageous we think.
However, on the whole, payment fees to send money from the UK to Europe are generally pretty minimal.
It’s much more important to understand the exchange rate margin that the bank or specialist FX provider applies. You stand to lose much more through these often ‘hidden’ costs.
Focus on the FX Margin When Making Money Transfers to Europe
Lloyd’s Bank is the only UK bank to publish the FX margins it applies to its retail banking customers.
Looking at these margins, we can soon start to see why it’s so important to find cheaper alternatives:
|Payment Value||Current margin for sending money outside the UK or in a foreign currency|
|0 – £10,000||3.55%|
|£10,000 – £50,000||3.55% – 2.40%|
|£50,000 – £100,000||2.40% – 2.10%|
|£100,000 – £250,000||2.10% – 1.50%|
|£250,000 and above||1.50%|
Lloyds Bank is actually one of the cheaper banks for making money transfers to Europe.
Some UK and European banks are known to take FX margins of 5%+ for converting Sterling to Euros or Euros to Sterling.
In the case of some European banks, this is on top of a payment fee which could be around 0.3%-0.8% of the transfer too.
The ‘foreign exchange margin’ is the difference between the mid-market rate (the exchange rate that banks trade at with each other) and the rate you’re actually offered as a customer.
By working with a non-bank provider, you should be able to send money to the EU at a rate much closer to the mid-market rate.
For the purposes of comparison, we can easily compare the FX margins of Lloyds Bank with those of Wise as they too are transparent enough to inform customers.
The only slight difference is that Wise provides customers with the actual mid-market rate and then applies a ‘variable payment fee’.
In practice, this works in the exact same way as an FX margin.
Be warned, you may find the difference quite staggering.
A £40,000 money transfer to Europe would see you hit with a 3.55% FX margin through Lloyds.
Meaning a whopping £1,420 would be lost in the FX margin taken by Lloyds.
A £40,000 money transfer to Europe with Wise incurs a variable fee of 0.41%.
Meaning you’d pay just £164 for the Wise variable fee.
By opting for Wise to send money to the EU, you could save £1,256 on a £40,000 transfer in comparison to Lloyds.
On a £250,000 transfer, the FX margin applied by Lloyds is 1.5%, compared to a rate of 0.31% with Wise. This means you could save a staggering £2,975 by using Wise to send money to Europe for a transfer of this amount.
Wise does not necessarily always provide the best GBPEUR exchange rate.
There’s a possibility to save even more if you make a large transfer through a currency brokerage.
Speak with your account manager at your broker and you may be able to negotiate yourself an even better margin.
What’s more, their guidance might help you to make the right calls to improve the timing of your trade.
Banks and payment companies like Wise provide no guidance on the currency markets and the only product they provide retail clients is known as ‘spot FX’.
That’s an immediate currency conversion at whatever rate the market is currently trading.
Currency brokers provide a range of currency hedging tools that allow you to book trades for the future or ones that will automatically execute should your desired rate be hit.
Effectively timing an FX trade can be the difference in gaining or losing hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Take a look at just a 5-day window in August 2022.
On the 25 August GBPEUR was trading at 1.19, but by the 30 August GBPEUR was trading at 1.16.
That’s a 2.5% fall in just a few days.
Trade £100,000 on the 25 August and you’d receive £119,000, trade £100,000 on the 30 August and you’d receive £116,000.
It’s for this reason that we rated a number of currency brokers as the best way to transfer money from the UK to Europe.
When you send money to the EU with these companies, you’ll encounter no fees, you should receive a competitive FX margin, and the guidance you receive may even help achieve a better rate through the timing on your transfer.
European Banks Hike Fees to Make and Receive Payments with the UK
Transferring money from the UK to Europe after Brexit has become more difficult and more expensive with some European Banks.
While British Banks continue to honour the same low-fees associated with the SEPA network, some European Banks have chosen to take advantage of a loophole now that the UK has left the EU.
According to legislation from the European Central Bank there is no actual price cap on SEPA transfers but banks are not allowed to charge more for cross-border payments than domestic ones.
Most banks charge nothing for local transfers (nobody would use them if they did), so these banks are also required to charge nothing for SEPA transfers.
However, now that the UK has left the EU, they are no longer governed by these terms.
A statement in July 2020 from the European Commission stated ‘After the end of the transition period, the EU rules in the field of banking and payment services… will no longer apply to the United Kingdom’.
Unfortunately, some European banks are now raising the cost of payments to and from the UK after Brexit, even though the UK remains a member of SEPA.
The Spanish bank Sabadell has said the ‘UK does not belong to the EU so the fee to transfer any money outside the EU will be 0.75% of any transaction’, and it would charge customers €18 to receive money from the UK into a Sabadell account.
Those looking to send money from the UK to Italy or send money from the UK to the Netherlands are also being hit with higher payment fees.
Italian bank Unicredit is charging €10 plus a percentage cut of whatever is transferred.
How to Solve This?
One option could be to open a multi currency account.
In most respects, these digital accounts work just like a standard bank account.
The major difference is that you can’t pay cheques to/from these accounts and you cannot set-up a direct debit.
Other than that, you can hold balances, spend these balances with a debit card, plus make and receive transfers to a whole host of countries around the world.
The accounts are held in your name and GBP + EUR accounts are formatted to the IBAN standard.
When transferring money to Europe, you could fund your EUR digital bank account first (unlike some European banks, these multi currency account providers do not charge inbound fees).
Then, once this transfer is complete, you could make an EUR to EUR transfer from this digital account to your fully-fledged European bank account.
This should work when the digital account provider holds your euro account within an EU country like Germany.
Ahead of making the transfer, double check with your digital account provider or the beneficiary bank to be sure.
Transferring Money Within the EU to non-Euro Countries
There are eight countries in the EU that do not use the euro as their currency of choice; Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Sweden.
It’s worth noting that banks based in these EU countries are also applicable to the same ruling – they may not charge more for a payment in euros to another EU country than they do for a domestic payment in the national currency.
For example, let’s say you’re based in Poland and need to send money to a friend in Germany.
If your bank charges you 5 PLN to transfer Polish zloty to another Polish bank account, they must charge the same 5 PLN to make a PLN to EUR transfer to Germany.
Crucially, however, there is no ruling on the FX margin that the bank can apply.
So while the legislation has been established with good intention, we’ve already demonstrated how a considerable amount more can be lost in the exchange rate as opposed to payment fees.
In this example, we’d still recommend a dedicated international payment company to handle the transfer from Poland to Germany.
EU-based Britons Facing Account Closure
Following a stream of account closure notices that were sent in 2021, it would appear some British banks are doubling down on their efforts to close bank accounts for EU-based Britons in the fall of 2022.
Barclays, Lloyds and Halifax are three banks known to be doing this.
To keep their UK bank accounts, EU-based Britons have been told to prove their permanent address is in the UK, otherwise they are not deemed as permanently living in Britain.
British banks who wish to continue operating in the EU now require special permission to operate in each individual country and many British banks have decided this is simply too costly for the customer-base it has out there.
Is there a solution?
As above, we would encourage individuals who have been jeopardised by this move to open a multi currency account with a digital bank.
If you are deemed a permanent resident in another country, you should be able to open a bank account in that locale with no issues.
If the fees with this European bank are higher to receive money from the UK, then simply make use of your digital multi currency account where possible.
Whenever money is moving across borders, your multi currency account will likely prove the better option to make and receive payments.
⭐ Best Way to Transfer Money From the UK to Europe – A Country by Country Guide ⭐
Any of the best recommended providers on this page can easily handle transfers throughout Europe but there are some small differences to consider such as those that have local language capabilities and a strong reputation for that market.
We look at those here.
Best Way to Send Money to Portugal
Currencies Direct can help customers reduce the cost when transferring money from the UK to Portugal.
This can be through either their London office or their Portuguese office, based in Almancil (Algarve).
The Currencies Direct website is available in both English and Portuguese, and customers can speak to support staff in either language.
They work closely with clients to provide a personalised solution which is based on their own risk appetite and transfer requirements.
Whether buying the property of your dreams, transferring a pension, or paying a mortgage, Currencies Direct has vast experience in doing these types of transfers between the UK and Portugal.
Best Way to Send Money to Ireland
moneycorp has a long-standing presence in Ireland and, as part of its post-Brexit strategy, recently opted to secure its e-money and MiFID II licence from the Central Bank of Ireland.
This licence allows moneycorp to offer its services throughout Europe. Many payment companies pick the Netherlands, Spain or even an eastern-European country to secure their licences, but moneycorp opted for Ireland.
There are no international transfer fees with moneycorp to send money from the UK to Ireland.
You’ll also have access to moneycorp’s wide range of FX tools designed to help you get the most out of your money.
Best Way to Send Money to Italy
Currencies Direct is available in both English and Italian and the payment firm has been serving the UK-Italy corridor for over 20 years.
Whether buying a house, repatriating income or sending money to loved ones, Currencies Direct helps customers save money when sending money to Italy from the UK.
Italy also has one of the fastest growing ecommerce markets in Europe. Online sellers could be interested in Currencies Direct’s eSeller solution, making it easy to collect and convert revenues from online marketplace.
Best Way to Send Money to Germany
The amount you’re looking to send will determine the cheapest option but if you’re looking to speak with an expert to discuss a currency strategy before you transfer money to Germany, Currencies Direct is the provider to go for.
Best Way to Send Money to Austria
Transferring money to Austria from the UK is much like the rest of Europe.
Austria has long been an EU-member and is part of the SEPA network.
Best Way to Send Money to Netherlands from UK
Global Reach is one of the most professional foreign exchange companies available on the market today. With offices in both London and Amsterdam, it’s our recommended choice for transferring money from UK to Netherlands and sending money from Netherlands to UK. Put simply, they have one of the most experienced dealing teams in the industry and they have currency dealers who can speak both English and Dutch. Whether it’s property purchases, pensions, salary transfers or any other requirement, Global Reach helps individuals make the most of their money for transfers between the UK and Netherlands.
Best Way to Send Money to Greece
If you’re looking to send money to Greece then you should be aware there is no money transfer company with offices in Greece or offering telephone support available in Greek.
However, based on the fact Greece is in the EU and part of the SEPA network, sending money to Greece is still relatively simple.
Currencies Direct remains a solid choice.
Best Way to Send Money to Cyprus
Like Greece, there is no provider with local offices in Cyprus, nor one to our knowledge that has customer support available in Greek or Turkish.
To send money to Cyprus from the UK, you can use any recommended provider.
OFX specifically advertises the wide-number of Cypriot banks it can pay. This includes (but isn’t limited to); Alpha Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Eurobank and Hellenic Bank.
Best Way to Send Money to Malta
To transfer euros from the UK to Malta, you can use any of the recommended providers on this page.
There is no particular provider that stands out above the rest in terms of offering added-value that specifically relates to money transfers to Malta but it’s part of the EU and adopts the Euro.
Money transfers to Malta should take no longer than one day to arrive and will often arrive same-day.
Best Way to Send Money to Luxembourg
Make a pound to euro transfer with any of our recommended providers on this page.
Currencies Direct has local support available in French and German, as well as website translations available in these languages too.
So if this is your local dialect and you’ve emigrated to the UK, we’d make Currencies Direct the first company to contact.
Best Way to Send Money to Belgium
If you need to send money from the UK to Belgium and would prefer support in English, then we can recommend any of the top European money transfer providers listed in this guide.
If you would prefer support in Dutch, we would recommend Corpay.
If you would prefer support in French or German, then our recommendation is Currencies Direct.
Both are vastly experienced in helping customers make the most of their money with pound to euro transfers.
Best Way to Send Money to Estonia
There are no firms currently offering local support or linguistic capabilities in Estonian.
However, Estonia is an EU-member state and thus part of the SEPA network.
Provided you’re happy to speak in English, currency brokers like OFX can easily assist with transferring money between the UK and Estonia.
To send money from the UK to Estonia, you’ll just require the IBAN of the account you’re sending money to, and a few other basic details about the beneficiary.
Best Way to Send Money to Lithuania
There are more options when it comes to local support in Lithuania.
Transfergo holds an office in Lithuania and has local support staff who can assist individuals with Lithuanian as their primary language.
The firm is also authorised by the Bank of Lithuania as an electronic money institution.
As Lithuania is an EU-member and SEPA-member, sending money between the UK and Lithuania is also quite straightforward.
Best Way to Send Money to Slovenia
There are no firms offering local support in Slovene but as another EU-member state that utilises the SEPA network, transferring money between the UK and Slovenia is also straightforward.
You’ll be able to send money to Slovenia with any of our top recommended currency brokers.
Currencies Direct is available in English, Italian and German.
Best Way to Send Money to Finland
Transferring money between the UK and Finland is again relatively simple, since Finland was one of the first countries to adopt the euro.
Transferring money from the UK to Finland would see an FX conversion from GBP to EUR and then the UK payment provider would make the transfer over the SEPA network.
Meaning funds should arrive next-day or same-day for priority payments.
Swedish headquartered Opal Transfer has a local telephone number in Finland, and thus we would assume Finnish speaking support staff.
Cheapest Way to Send Money to Europe From the UK
As our analysis has shown, the chances are virtually nil that a bank will prove your cheapest option .
This leaves you with two main types of providers – online payment companies or dedicated currency brokers.
The general rule here is to opt for online companies when you’re sending smaller volumes and opt for brokers when you’re making larger transfers.
- Cheapest Way to Send Money to Europe From UK – Under £20,000: When looking at margins only, Wise will likely provide the best GBPEUR exchange rate and will be the cheapest method to send money to the EU. A currency broker might provide guidance that improves the timing of your trade and makes it overall more cost effective but this will have lesser impact on smaller volumes.
- Cheapest Way to Transfer Money to Europe – Over £20,000: When sending large volumes, it’s definitely worth trying to negotiate the FX spread that’s applied on your transfer. Call your dedicated account manager and see what kind of rate you can achieve.
Final Word: Europe Money Transfers
The introduction of SEPA has drastically reduced the payment fees involved in transferring money between European countries.
Despite this, some European banks have added unnecessary fees to receive money from the UK.
Ultimately, however, customers still stand to lose a lot more in the currency exchange than the payment fees.
UK and European banks have always been expensive in this regard, choosing to hide behind opaque FX margins.
Whether you are transferring money to Portugal, Italy, Germany or anywhere else in Europe – it’s the same murky bank practices!
Always compare multiple rates.
See what your bank is charging you but compare this to at least two other non-bank providers as well.
Whether a currency broker or online payment company, we’re confident they’ll provide bank-beating exchange rates.
Sending Money From / To
View all routes on our sending money abroad guide