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How to Track International Payments

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Last editedJun 20232 min read

Whether you’ve sent payment to an overseas supplier or are waiting to receive funds from a customer, there often comes a time when you want to know where your money has gone. As cross-border transactions become increasingly common, so does the need for businesses to track them in real time. But what do you need to track an international payment? In this guide, we’ll discuss how to track international payments.

How do international payments work?

To get started with tracking any payment, it’s helpful to first understand how the system works. Most international bank payments move from one bank account to another via the SWIFT or SEPA network. This may involve a direct transfer between two international bank branches. It could involve several intermediaries or corresponding banks, which is where tracking your payment could become more complicated. The payment order might route through several banks in multiple countries. No matter the route, in most cases international payments arrive at their destination between one and five working days.

When a customer sends a wire transfer as payment, they’ll do this through their own bank. They’ll need to provide your payment details including the IBAN number, BIC/SWIFT number, and amount. International transfers are usually processed on the same day, provided it’s a business day and before the bank’s cut-off time. The sender will receive a receipt with a confirmation number that can be used for tracking.

How to track international payments

What happens when it’s been longer than five business days and the payment hasn’t been received? Don’t panic; there are many reasons why international bank transfers are delayed. Factors like bank cut-off times, bank holidays, weekends, and infrastructure all take a toll. Anti-fraud checks like Know Your Customer rules can also cause delays, as can banking errors. However, if it’s been longer than a week it’s time to track your payment.

When sent through the SWIFT network, payments can be traced using the Unique End-to-End Transaction Reference number. This is associated with each payment and remains consistent even if the payment is routed through several corresponding banks on the way to its final account. SWIFT now also offers a Basic Tracker service that allows users to trace payments from end-to-end, all in real time. Users can confirm these payments online with a unique log-in.

What do you need to track an international payment?

If you’ve sent the wire transfer, you’ll receive a reference number as outlined above. You’ll need this confirmation number to place a trace on your international payment and determine where it’s gone. Be aware that some banks will charge you for the trace. Additional documentation will depend on your bank, so be prepared to provide additional ID or authentication details.

If you’re waiting for your international wire transfer, you’ll also need the same reference number. This involves an extra step of contacting the sender and requesting the following information:

  • The issuing bank’s SWIFT code

  • The transfer reference number

  • Payment amount

  • Payment transfer date

By providing these details to your own bank, you’ll be able to track international payments and account for any delays.

Streamline your international payments with GoCardless

Is there a better way to send, receive, and track international payments? GoCardless allows businesses to receive international payments from over 30 countries, all at the real exchange rate. It offers local bank debit options in each supported country, without dealing with foreign bank accounts. Payments are received quickly and with competitive transfer rates - with no hidden pricing or commission in the exchange rate.

Tracking international wire transfers can be time-consuming, but with GoCardless you retain full visibility over incoming payments by pulling funds directly from customers’ bank accounts. As a result, 85% of GoCardless customers report spending less time chasing up on payments, including international.

Collecting international payments can be expensive and time-consuming. Collecting via GoCardless is fast, easy and affordable.

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We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off 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.

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
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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Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

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