With a long history of industry, innovation, and engineering excellence, it’s not surprising that Germany has developed into Europe’s most influential economy and, more recently, a hub for startups.
If you’re a business with suppliers in Germany or looking to expand into new European markets, chances are you’ll need to transfer money to and from Germany to support your business operations. And to thrive, you’ll want to do it in the most cost-effective way possible. Naturally.
This guide will provide an overview of sending and receiving payments in Germany. We'll start with some general information about international transfers, then look at how long they take and how much they’re likely to cost – everything your business needs to know.
Global transfers in Germany
Germany was among the first countries to adopt the Euro and started using the currency in 2002 when coins and banknotes were introduced. With a common currency across 20 European countries, international transfers were made much easier.
Germany is also part of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), a network that connects 190 countries around the world for financial transactions.
According to JP Morgan’s Payment Trends Report, German citizens make fewer cross-border online payments than the European average. So, platforms like Amazon.de could be a useful point of sale for international businesses looking to crack Europe’s third-largest e-commerce market. Helpfully, here at 3S Money, our International Business Account integrates with Amazon and other online marketplaces.
As a key member of the European Union (EU), Germany has adopted various policies that align payment systems across Europe (and therefore promote the success of the single market). Using the Euro is one example, but others include:
Germany belongs to the EU’s Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). This agreement means that transferring to banks in other SEPA countries is simply like sending to another account in Germany.
The SEPA Instant Credit scheme (SCT Inst) enables transfers across Europe in just a few seconds, at any time of day, 365 days a year.
SCT Inst is benefits businesses operating internationally as it improves cashflow management and can reduce the need for financing. The limit on SCT Inst transactions is now €100,000 which is also helpful for businesses looking to make larger payments.
Countries eligible for payments
In Germany, thanks to SWIFT and SEPA, you can send and receive payments to and from most countries around the world.
The specific countries you can transfer money to depends on which service you use – we'll look at the different options available later in this guide.
When planning a cross-border transfer, it’s worth bearing in mind that some countries may be unreachable due to the current political climate or economic sanctions, for example. It’s important to check with your transfer provider to understand if they are unable to send money to specific countries.
Germany uses the Euro and has done since it was first introduced in Europe.
At 3S Money, we always recommend sending your transfer in the local currency of your destination. However, as Germany has access to the SWIFT network, you’re able to transfer in many different currencies if you wish. The exact currencies available will depend on the provider you use, but 3S Money offers 65+ different currency options (with fair and sustainable FX rates).
With a local German IBAN or International Business Account issued by 3S Money, in your company name, your business will be able to send and collect high-value payments in Europe wherever in the world you operate – without the hassle of opening local bank accounts.
There are various options to fund transfers from the UK to Germany, including corporate and personal credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, direct debits. In recent years, e-wallet services like Google Pay and Apple Pay have also become commonplace.
Additional fees can apply when using credit or debits cards. For example, some card issuers might charge a cash advance fee for using transfer services. Be sure to consider this when calculating the total cost of sending your transfer.
Different ways to send payments to Germany
There are various ways to transfer money from the UK to Germany. The one that’s best for you will depend on your business’s requirements and operations. Let’s look at the different options in more detail.
Many individuals and businesses choose to transfer money via their bank. It tends to be easy and convenient because you’re already familiar with the processes involved. But it can also be expensive, especially if your business is making regular payments. You'll likely pay the following fees:
Banks usually charge a fee to arrange and process a transfer (for UK banks, this varies from £20-£40).
Some banks may also charge a percentage of the total amount you’re transferring (as much as 3-4%).
Banks may use their own foreign exchange (FX) rates and add margins of 5-7%.
Check your business account terms so you know what your bank charges for international transfers. If your business needs to make multiple payments, you’ll want to consider an alternative that’s less expensive in the long term. In addition, traditional banks can delay high-value international payments without warning.
Fortunately, there are other options.
Online banks or Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs)
Electronic Money Institutions offer many of the same financial products and services as traditional banks, but they don’t have branches you can walk into. 3S Money, for instance, is an EMI.
EMIs like us are becoming a popular tool to transfer money. This is especially true for businesses that operate internationally. Here are a few reasons why:
Savings: EMIs offer lower fees and more competitive FX rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
Simplicity: All your business transactions are accessible in one easy-to-use platform.
Scale: Your business can grow quicker with greater access to multiple countries and currencies.
International businesses are turning to EMIs for alternative banking solutions because they enable simple payments in different countries without the need to hold local bank accounts. Find out more about EMIs here.
Another way to transfer money to Germany from the UK is by wire transfer. As with other services, this option has pros and cons. For example:
You have a choice of how the money is received. Many services offer bank transfers, eWallet delivery, or cash pickup from a physical location.
If you want a faster transfer, you’ll probably pay significantly more.
These services often add a currency exchange rate markup which means either the sender must pay more, or the recipient receives less. Either way, the provider pockets a healthy profit.
Wire transfers can be less secure and more difficult to trace. With 3S Money every payment is globally safeguarded and protected.
Sending payments to Germany: step-by-step
A 3S Money International Business Account enables you to send money in 65+ currencies to 190+ countries, including Germany. Here’s how:
1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account
Once approved, get a local German IBAN in your business name – it's just like having a German bank account.
2. Enter the transfer details
Add the recipient’s name and their account details, then choose the currency and country.
3. Send your money
Receive an alert when the transfer is complete (usually in under two hours).
Receiving money from Germany: step-by-step
A 3S Money International Business Account makes it easy to receive payments from 190+ countries, including Germany.
1. Open a 3S Money International Business Account
Benefit from one easy-to-use platform for all your international payments.
2. Give customers your account details
Get a local German IBAN in your business name to collect international payments - it's just like having a local German bank account.
3. Receive your money
See the payment arrive in your account (usually in under two hours).
How long do money transfers to Germany take?
The answer is: it depends. Many transfers from the UK to Germany will take a few seconds, but others could take a few days. Generally speaking, how long depends on the type of transfer and the system(s) used by your provider.
If your bank uses the SEPA network, most payments can be processed instantly.
EMIs, such as 3S Money, can also deliver most transfers to Germany from the UK instantly (a 3S Money International Business Account also allows you to manage your global transfers easily from one online platform).
SWIFT transfers can take up to four working days to reach the recipient.
Wire transfers vary in speed, depending on the provider and product. Some providers offer cash pick-up or mobile wallet options where the money is available within minutes. Bank transfers typically arrive the next day.
Remember, transfers from the UK to Germany are usually only processed on working days. So, if you send a payment over a weekend or public holiday, expect it to take longer to reach its destination.
All these factors will affect how long your transfer takes. If timing is critical, as it is with many small businesses operating across borders, it’s best to check with your chosen provider.
How much money can I transfer online to Germany?
There’s no limit to how much you can transfer. However, some providers cap how much you can send in an individual transaction. So, if you want to transfer a large amount, you may have to do multiple transfers.
3S Money doesn’t impose transaction limits. Once you’ve been approved for an International Business Account, you can transfer high-value payments with ease from Germany to 190+ countries around the world.
Transferring large amounts
In cases where your provider imposes a cap, look out for multiple transfer fees. If you send payments regularly in this way, to pay supplier invoices, for example, the costs could mount up.
When transferring large amounts, there are a few things you should consider:
Some providers cap the amount you can send in a single transfer, so you may have to do several.
There may be a limit on the number of transfers you can make in any 30-day period.
Larger amounts can take longer to process, depending on the provider.
Your provider may enquire about large transfers. This is considered best practice and is also an important part of how institutions that are regulated by the FCA (like 3S Money) meet their obligations. Learn more about who 3S Money is regulated by.
How much does it cost to transfer money to Germany?
Making international transfers via traditional banks can be expensive. Let’s look at the likely costs in more detail.
Outgoing transfer fee: You’ll most likely be charged a flat fee for sending an international transfer. For UK banks, this varies between £20 and £40. 3S Money charges just $1 per transfer (or your local equivalent) regardless of how much you send.
Incoming transfer fee: Most UK banks charge around £7.50 for receiving payments from international bank accounts. 3S Money charges £0.00.
Initiation fee: Some banks might charge you a fee if you request the transfer over the phone or in person rather than online. Expect this to be around £20. 3S Money doesn’t charge initiation fees.
Commission: Banks might also charge a fee based on a percentage of the total amount you transfer. For UK banks, this is currently around 3-4%. 3S Money charges just $1 per transfer (or your local equivalent) regardless of how much you send.
Markups: The exchange rate you can find on Google or see on the news is called the “mid-market” rate. Banks apply their own exchange rates to international transfers which means you’ll pay more – and they keep the difference.
3S Money offers fair and sustainable FX rates that are up to 5x lower than traditional banks.
Tips for transferring money to Germany
When you’re running a business, you’ll want to keep costs to a minimum. That’s even more important when your operations are international.
Fortunately, alternative banking solutions (like 3S Money) are here to save you time and money when completing international transfers to countries like Germany.
We’ve covered a lot in this article, so here are a few tips and main takeaways to consider:
Even small delays to payments can be a big issue for small businesses, so plan to make sure your transfer arrives on time.
Where possible, avoid making lots of small transfers. Individual fees and charges add up.
With 3S Money, you don’t need to worry about high fees or delays because you’ll have access to a local German IBAN.
Check the latest GBP/EUR exchange rate and compare it to the one offered by your provider. You may have to do some digging to find this number.
Ensure that the provider you use is regulated by an independent body. 3S Money is FCA and CSSF regulated and uses safeguarding to protect 100% of your funds. Other schemes such as the FSCS only cover up to £80,000 – so you have greater peace of mind with 3S Money.
The easier way for international businesses to manage their money
Ready to start making and receiving payments to and from Germany with ease?
3S Money’s International Business Account offers global payment solutions for businesses looking to operate in multiple countries – all from one easy-to-use account.