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How To Track An International Wire Transfer

Updated on September 28, 2022 11:20 am
wire transfer

International wire transfers take time to complete due to various reasons. The normal transfer time is between 1 to 5 business days. If your transfer isn’t delivered within the time frame you were given, you can request a trace on your transaction using a reference number or tracking number, or SWIFT codes.

End-to-end tracking is a service that banks and many money transfer businesses provide to keep you informed about the progress of your payments. And the method used by each provider to track transfers varies. This article discusses how to track an international wire transfer while using banks or various money transfer companies. And learn which one is much easier to use. 

International Wire Transfers 

International wire transfers are the electronic transfer of funds from one bank account in one country to a bank account in another country. They are mostly done via the SWIFT network. 

SWIFT stands for Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication- an international messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information securely, such as instructions for money transfers. The network itself doesn’t carry out transfers. It merely passes along transfer instructions between banks.

The network has over 11,000 numbers in more than 200+ countries and territories.

Typically, a SWIFT transfer involves your bank (the sender's bank) processing the money transfer request before sending it to one to three intermediary banks that participate in the transaction before the funds are finally deposited at your recipient's bank. 

The number of intermediate banks that a transfer must go through is not governed by any hard and fast standards. With each transfer to a different location, it could change.

The disadvantage is that each intermediary bank may impose fees that are subtracted from the transfer amount and lead to a smaller amount being delivered to the recipient than initially sent.

Online ACH money transfers are an inexpensive substitute for international wire payments.

Even though the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network is used for bank-to-bank ACH transfers in the U.S., international ACH transfers are increasingly taking place.

Only select banks in the U.S. provide ACH transfers. However, certain independent money transfers allow you to use ACH bank debit as one of the payment methods to fund your international money transfer online.

Learn more with this ultimate guide to ACH transfers. 

How To Track International Money Transfer or Bank Wire Transfer?

A tracking number won't normally be generated when sending money overseas through a bank. 

A SWIFT code or SWIFT number is typically used to trace your transfer. Your recipient can also use the SWIFT number to track the status of the transaction.

You can contact your bank and ask for a wire trace once you have the SWIFT number. The bank will use it to determine whether the money has been transferred or is still waiting.

What Is A SWIFT Code?  

A SWIFT code, or a SWIFT number or a Business Identification Code (BIC), is a string of 8 or 11 characters assigned to banks by SWIFT. It is needed for international wires.

Banks, their branches, and locations must be identified using the SWIFT code to enable accurate fund transfers. It serves as a type of global bank identification. To find your bank's SWIFT code, call them, go to their website, or do a Google search.

For example, the SWIFT code of Bank of America is BOFAUS3N for incoming transfers in US dollars.

The bank's name is represented by the first four letters; the following two letters represent the country in which the bank is located, and the location code, or city, is given by the following two characters (numbers and letters). If the bank has more than one branch in the neighborhood, the optional final three characters (numbers and letters)—represent the bank's branch.

You may occasionally need to know your bank's IBAN or International Bank Account Number to trace international wire transfers. 

IBAN is not the same as a SWIFT code, but they serve a similar purpose—identifying your bank account, your bank, and the location of the bank. In the eurozone or SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area), IBAN is primarily used. American banks use SWIFT codes.

Therefore, be prepared to use it while moving funds to and from the SEPA or European Union.

Do You Need A SWIFT MT103 Document?

You will need to request an MT103 document to track your international wire transfer if your payment is made using the SWIFT network.

Any bank or other financial institution that sends money through the SWIFT network can provide an MT103-a standardized proof of payment document. All necessary details, including the transfer date, amount, sender, and recipient information, are included in the MT103 document.

You may need an MT103 document as evidence of payment if there is a disagreement regarding the transfer you made or if the transaction has any issues.

The MT103 paperwork is typically not automatically made available to you by banks. However, if you ask for it, the sending bank is required to give it to you.

It is best to request this document as soon as possible because it can take your bank a few days to provide it. Keep in mind that the document will cost money to obtain.

How To Confirm If The Money Has Reached Your Recipient?

You can either call your recipient and ask them directly or ask your bank to obtain a trace of the transfer. If the funds have been put into the recipient's account, your bank will be able to let you know.

You might need to put in a little more effort to confirm whether an international wire transfer has been completed because there is typically no system in place to automatically notify the sender when this happens.

Some independent online money transfer companies send an email or SMS to the sender informing them of the transfer's status (discussed later). If you've downloaded the provider's money transfer apps, you can easily monitor the status of the transfer on your mobile devices.

Learn about the best money transfer apps for sending money internationally.

Are There Fees for Wire Tracing at Banks?

For tracing a wire transfer, many banks could charge a fee. Therefore, it makes sense to ask for a trace or recall only if you are certain that the recipient did not get the money after the expected timing of the delivery of funds.

You should contact your bank for the most exact information about how to trace your transfer and how much it will cost. Processes and fees can differ based on your bank and the type of account you have.

Can An International Wire Transfer Be Cancelled?

A recall could still happen if the money hasn't yet been sent to the recipient's account. You can request a recall if you discover after sending the money that you made a mistake while tracking your international wire transfer. For instance, you mistyped the recipient's information.

Many banks also have policies stating that you must request a recall within a specified time after sending the wire. You might not be able to get your money back if it has already been sent or delayed for too long. 

You could still be charged with the wire costs even if the bank does recall the transfer amount. Do bear in mind that recall can take several days. On average, they can take about the same length of time as sending the money.

How Much Is The Fee For Recalling An International Wire?

You'll probably have to pay a fee if you want to cancel a wire, and the amount will likely depend on your bank. 

You can inquire with your bank, and they will be able to provide you with the exact fee. You can expect to pay anything from $15 and $50 or more.

Some banks may just return the transfer amount and not the fees you paid to transmit it, while other banks may refund the entire transfer amount as well as any fees you paid. 

Before demanding a refund, determine your bank's policies, as they vary per bank and are subject to change.

How To Track A Wire Transfer As A Recipient?

There are a few things you may do if your wire is taking longer than intended. You must first get in touch with your sender and obtain the following details:

  • The SWIFT code for the bank or its SWIFT number
  • The amount transferred
  • the transfer's start date
  • Information on the due date for the payment

This information can be provided to your bank so they can advise you on when to ask the sender to start a wire tracing. Alternatively, if your bank is unable to trace the wire, you might ask the sender to double-check their transaction.

How To Track International Wire Transfer With Money Transfer Specialist 

For each wire transfer request, you should be provided with a receipt. You should save a copy of this as evidence that you paid the payment in case something goes wrong.

In general, the following steps are needed to track a money transfer:

  • You can begin tracking a transfer once it has been sent.
  • Look through your receipt. Look for a confirmation, tracking, or reference number.
  • Use the tracking number to track online.
  • Sign up for notifications or alerts to be informed about the progress of your transfer.

You can enter the reference or tracking number on the money transfer company's website, where you can trace the transfer status or offer it to a customer service agent over the phone, or submit it in person at an agent location.

For instance, if you send your money via their service, you will receive an MTCN, which is Western Union's tracking number. Money Transfer Control Number, or MTCN, is a distinct reference number for your particular transfer. If you selected cash pickup, Western Union wouldn't release your funds to your recipient until they provide the MTCN.

There are alternatives if you don't know the MTCN. You will need to know:

  • Sender’s phone number 
  • Sender’s name
  • Recipient’s name
  • Recipient’s country
  • Transfer amount 
  • Date of  the transfer

Similarly, you will get an RTRN if you send money to India with Remit2India. RTRN stands for Remittance Transaction Reference Number- a unique reference number to track Remit2India transactions 

How To Track International Wire With Wise

Some money transfer services are entirely online, allowing you to follow your transaction using your order history rather than a reference or tracking number. 

Instead of tracking with your traditional bank, you will be able to do international money transfer tracking in real-time online. That also with no extra charge. 

Money transfer specialists like Wise enable you to trace your payment online or always use their online money transfer app to know where your money is.

It is typical for such specialized services to send you an email or push notification on your phone after the payment has been accepted. You can rest easy knowing that your money was ultimately directed in the right direction.

In a manner akin to how you can trace an online purchase you made from Amazon, your can track your money till it is sent to the right place with just a few clicks.

Steps to Track a Wire Transfer Online with Wise:

  • Log in to your Wise account 
  • Go to Home to see your history or activity list
  • Select the transfer you want to track 
  • Check the details of your transfer

Wise updates you on the status of your transfer. You will receive an email when they have received your payment and when they are ready to send the funds to your recipient. And will keep you updated on any delays and provide you with a fresh arrival time.

Here are Various Reasons for Delays on Some Occasions:

  • Depending on how much you send and the currency you send it to, further verification processes can be required. If Wise needs any information from you, you will receive an email. So, whenever you set up a transfer, keep a watch on your emails.
  • Sometimes Wise has already sent the money, but it hasn't yet reached the recipient's bank. t can imply that the recipient's bank is still processing the transfer and would need a few working days to deliver it to their account.
  • If the recipient's information is entered incorrectly, the transfer may be delayed. The banks need more time to process and match the transfer to the appropriate account. Or else, they might return the funds to you, in which case you would have to resend them with the correct information. 
  • The time it takes for your money to be processed can be impacted by local bank holidays in both your home country and the recipient's country. When requesting a transfer, be mindful of any holidays.
  • Your transfer time may vary depending on the time and date of your transfer request. Transfer requests that arrive before the cut-off hours at the majority of banks will be processed right away. If you submit it after the cutoff time, it might be handled the following day. 

How To Speed Up The Money Transfer Process

Wise's website states that you can speed up the transfer process by providing a transfer receipt to the recipient's bank if the money has already been delivered but hasn't yet arrived in their account.

  • To view your activity list, go to Home.
  • Click View Transfer Details on the relevant transfer.
  • Click Get PDF receipt.
  • Send the PDF to your recipient bank.


It is important to keep in mind that international money transfers are not instant. They can take up to 5 or more business days. Try to hold off on your request to track international money transfers or report a payment as missing for at least 3-5 business days after the transfer date.

It's crucial to take the appropriate safety measures when sending money overseas because there are risks involved. Use only authorized money transfer services to send money. Verify all of your information, and only send transactions to people you can trust.

To keep track of the progress of your transfer, keep your transfer reference number close to hand. Any unusual activity should be reported right away to your bank or service provider.

Use real-time comparison tools like CompareRemit to compare top money transfer providers to send money online abroad safely and efficiently.

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