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How long does a bank transfer take?

Rob Keating
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Last editedNov 20222 min read

When you make a bank transfer, you want to know exactly how long it will take for the recipient to see your money in their account. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to get the inside track on UK bank transfer times. So, how long does a bank transfer take to clear? Find out everything you need to know about making a bank transfer to domestic and international accounts.

What do you need to make a bank transfer?

Before you make the transfer, you’ll need to ensure you have access to a couple of key pieces of information. These include:

  • The date that you want payment to be made

  • The name of the business/organisation/individual that you are paying

  • The six-digit sort code

  • The eight-digit account number

  • A payment reference (so that the recipient knows what the payment is for)

Once you’ve got all of this information ready to go, you can begin the process of making a bank transfer.

How long does a bank transfer take to clear in the UK?

Bank transfers in the UK are powered by Faster Payments. As you may expect from the name, Faster Payments was introduced to improve the speed of normal bank transfers. As a result, most bank transfers are instantaneous, although in some cases, payment can take up to two hours. It’s important to remember that while Faster Payments aims to provide you with these types of bank transfer times, there’s no guarantee that your payment will be cleared on the same day.

You should also remember that the upper transaction limit for Faster Payments is around £250,000. If you’re sending a larger sum, you may need to use CHAPS payment instead (a bank-to-bank payment system intended for high-value transfers). CHAPS guarantees same-day payment, provided that the payment is processed before the daily cut-off point. Then, there’s Bacs payments, which take a little longer – generally speaking, Bacs requires three days to process a payment. 

Aren’t bank transfers instant?

In most cases, yes, bank transfer times are instantaneous. However, banks will occasionally hold onto your funds for several days. There are a wide range of reasons that this could be the case, but it’s most likely to happen to anomalous or especially large transactions. So, if you’ve made a transfer that’s noticeably larger than the amounts you usually transfer, it’s no reason to panic. In most cases, the bank is simply doing their due diligence. To find out exactly what’s happening to your money, give the bank a call and they should be able to explain what’s going on.

How long does it take to transfer money internationally?

If you’re making an international bank transfer, your bank transfer time is likely to be a little longer. This is because, unlike the UK, international transfers are processed by SWIFT or SEPA. So, how long does a bank transfer take for international payments? Your specific bank transfer time will vary depending on a range of factors, including fraud prevention, different currencies, different time zones, and bank holidays/weekends. In general, the bank transfer time will be around one to five working days.

Final word on bank transfer times

As we’ve demonstrated, the standard UK bank transfer time varies depending on the location of the recipient. While domestic transfers are likely to be processed within two hours – and in most cases, considerably less time than that – international transfers may take a little longer.

If you're a business looking to receive payment via bank transfer, another factor that affects how long it will take for those funds to arrive in your account is when the payer sends it. Bank transfers are a push payment, relying on the payment to take action first. If you find that you wait on late payments often, it can be easier to request payment using a pull-based mechanism, like Instant Bank Pay from GoCardless.

Instant Bank Pay enables you to send a request a bank payment and, when the payer authorises it, you will receive instant confirmation that the funds will arrive shortly.

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GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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