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Are There Any Countries That You Can’t Send Money to?

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Last editedMar 20222 min read

There are a myriad of ways to send money abroad from the United States. You can do this through your bank, or via money transfer services such a Wise or Western Union. However, while international transfers in many countries are getting easier every day, there are several countries which have restrictions in place making money transfers either very difficult or downright impossible.

In this post we’ll run through which countries have transfer money abroad restrictions in place limiting or preventing money transfer from the United States.

Countries with transfer restrictions

Somalia

While many bank regulators have stated that sending money to Somalia is allowed, there are very few institutions which facilitate the transfer of funds. According to American Banker, the last US bank which permitted transfers, the Merchants Bank of California, ceased doing so in 2015. However, it is possible to send money to Somalia via WorldRemit. However, you should be aware that WorldRemit doesn’t provide its usual service, but an adapted one which requires the funds to trade via a local bank. This incurs more fees.

Iran

Due to UN sanctions and with the country being considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the US, it is very difficult to send money to Iran. Any institution that trade in US dollars, whether inside the US or not, is at risk of prosecution by the Department of Justice for permitting money transfers to the country.  However, funds can be sent to Iran through cryptocurrency. In fact, the country has embraced cryptocurrency on a national level, with the Central Bank issuing their very own.

Cuba

While sending money from the United Kingdom or a number of other countries to Cuba is fairly straightforward, this is not yet the case for the United States. While the Obama administration eased some restrictions on travel and money transfers to and from Cuba in 2014, the Trump administration reneged these changes and added more restrictions in 2020. However, money transfer is somewhat possible via your bank so long as you as sending funds directly to family members and you do not send more than $1000 in a 3 month period.

Sudan

Much like Iran, Sudan was also considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States. However, US economic sanctions on Sudan were lifted in 2017. The fairly recent easing of transfer money abroad restrictions means money transfer options are still somewhat limited. However, Western Union is a major company that offers the option to send money from the States to Sudan. The money can only be received by cash pickup, however, which can be dangerous for citizens in high crime areas.

Syria

Like Iran, Syria is considered a terrorist country and is subject to harsh economic sanctions. This means it is impossible to send money to Syria, even to family members. This is because intentional money transfer to a sanctioned country is illegal in the United States.

North Korea

It will come as no surprise to you that sending money from the U.S to North Korea is far from easy. Due to economic sanctions and the country’s isolationism, American citizens are unable to do business with North Korea. However, some North Korean defectors have managed to send money to their family from the US via brokers. The failure rate for transfer this way, however, is fairly high, and there are huge fees involved.

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