How to Send Money Internationally from Malaysia

Transferring funds overseas can be a complicated and drawn-out process, but it doesn’t have to be the case. In this article, we will break down the process step-by-step and explain important things you need to consider before choosing an international money transfer provider. 

We will look at different types of providers, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the fees they charge, including the ones they don’t always tell you about. We will also explore what information you need to do the transfer, how long it takes, and how the process works. 

Finally, we will show you some examples of international money transfer providers like Wise or WorldRemit, and key decision-making points to consider when choosing an international money transfer provider.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about WorldRemit

How to make an international money transfer from Malaysia

We start this guide by looking at the steps involved in successfully transferring money to recipients in other countries. It will cover transfer methods, the foreign exchange process, and how the money is ultimately transferred. Remember, these are general steps and they may differ between providers.

Step 1: Choose the method to send money abroad

Before you send money overseas, you have to decide which of the many transfer methods will best suit your needs. Each of these methods has different steps, as well as advantages and disadvantages that make them different from the others. 

Method 1: With a traditional bank

In Malaysia, banks use a Foreign Telegraphic Transfer (FTT) for transferring funds overseas. FTT is a blanket term for wire transfers, bank transfers, or international transfers via the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) system. Anyone who wants to transfer funds abroad has to be registered with Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank.

For international transfers, banks in Malaysia use the SWIFT network. SWIFT codes are used to identify banks and this system is used by the majority of banks around the world. Some banks use International Bank Account Numbers, or IBAN, to identify specific international bank accounts, however many countries, including Malaysia, have not adopted the IBAN system and rely only on the SWIFT network for overseas transfers.

Steps to send money abroad with traditional banks

  1. The steps to transfer money overseas may differ between banks, but most follow a similar process:

  2. Log into your bank’s online account

  3. Select International Telegraphic Transfer or FTT from the menu, this may also be called foreign remittance.

  4. Enter the amount you want to transfer and provide details like your residential address, your relationship with the recipient, as well as the purpose of the transfer.

  5. Provide information about the recipient, including their name, address, name of their bank, and their bank’s SWIFT code.

  6. Complete the transaction by submitting the transfer.

What information do you need?

While each bank may need different information, they usually want the following:

  • Sender’s national ID, residential address, and employment status

  • Purpose of the transaction

  • Full name and address of the recipient

  • Name and address of the recipient’s bank

  • The SWIFT code of the recipient’s bank

Always check with the bank to ensure that you have all the correct information

Advantages of sending money with traditional banks

  • Safe to use: Telegraphic Transactions are secure via the SWIFT network and Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC).

  • Use already existing bank account, no need to set up a new one

Little to no transaction limits through branches (MYR 50,000 limit online)

Disadvantages of sending money with traditional banks

  • Both sender and receiver usually have to have a bank account

  • Poor exchange rates

  • Long transfer times

Method 2: Using a money transfer provider

International money transfer providers offer dedicated transfer services to make transfers quick, easy, and affordable. There are many providers like WorldRemit and Wise that enable you to send money from Malaysia to a host of different countries around the world.

Go to WiseGo to WorldRemit

Steps to send money abroad with money transfer providers

Most transfer providers like Wise and WorldRemit claim to make the overseas money transfer process as easy as possible and transactions take only a few steps:

  1. Create & verify your account

  2. Choose destination & transfer amount

  3. Provide the recipient’s details

  4. Choose payment method

  5. Send money

What information do you need?

The international money transfer provider may need certain information to complete the transaction. You should make sure that you have all the information before you set up the transaction. This may include the following:

  • Recipient’s full name

  • Recipient’s bank details such as IBAN number

  • Your payment details, like a credit card

Go to WiseGo to WorldRemit

Some providers may need more and/or different information, so check with the provider before setting up the transaction.

Online specialists such as Wise do not require SWIFT codes for money transfer. To learn more, you can read our How does Wise work? guide.

Advantages of sending money with a transfer provider

  • Often lower fees and better exchange rates than traditional banks

  • Fast transfers

  • Safe & secure

Disadvantages of sending money with a transfer provider

  • Most services don’t allow you to send cash

  • Capped transfer limits

  • Risk of scams

Method 3: Sending money with PayPal

PayPal is one of the most-established international money transfer providers and millions of people use the service every year to send money overseas. Over the last ten years, PayPal has faced strong competition from newer providers like WorldRemit and Wise, however, it remains a popular choice among users.

Steps to send money abroad with PayPal

PayPal was one of the first providers to make transferring money overseas easier and more user-friendly:

  1. Create a PayPal account and log in on either the mobile app or website.

  2. Go to ‘Send & Request’

  3. Search for the recipient in your contacts, or by entering their name, email address, or phone number, and click ‘next’

  4. Choose ‘Sending to a friend’

  5. Enter the amount, choose the currency and add a payment reference, and click ‘continue’.

  6. Select the Payment Method or add an alternative method.

  7. Review the details and click ‘Send Money Now’ 

What information do you need?

Transferring money overseas with PayPal requires you to provide the following information. Be aware that some transactions between certain countries may require different information, so be sure to check PayPal’s website before proceeding:

  • Recipient’s PayPal details

  • Recipient’s email or phone number

  • Recipient’s country of residence and/or preferred currency

Advantages of sending money with PayPal

  • Fast processing and payment

  • Secure payment

  • User-friendly interface

Disadvantages of sending money with PayPal

  • Recipient needs to have a PayPal account

  • Fees can be very high (including for the recipient)

  • Popular target for scammers

Method 4: Through the post office

Sending money overseas via the post office is a very old way of doing it, but Pos Malaysia still offers the service. However, it is not known for how long it will continue providing it.

Steps to send money abroad through the post office

Sending funds abroad through Pos Malaysia can be a tedious and drawn-out process, especially since fewer post offices in other countries continue to offer the service.

  1. Check that the post office in the recipient’s country allows international fund transfers

  2. Find a Pos Malaysia branch that offers the FTT service (not all branches offer the service)

  3. Fill in the required forms and make the payment of the amount you want to transfer.

  4. Once you have made the payment, you will receive a Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN), which you must send to the recipient.

  5. Once received, the recipient must find a post office that supports international fund transfers and complete the ‘Receive Money’ form.

  6. They must then submit the completed form and provide identification to receive the money. 

What information do you need?

  • Recipient’s name & identification

  • Recipient’s post office location

  • Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN)

Advantages of sending money through the post office

  • Long established service

  • Relatively secure

  • Great for those not familiar or comfortable with technology

Disadvantages of sending money through the post office

  • Not all branches or countries offer the service through local post offices

  • Can only send post office to post office

  • Process can take long

Method 5: Cash pick-up

A popular method to send money overseas is through a cash pickup. Cash pickups require recipients to collect cash from a physical location such as a shop, a kiosk, ATM, or even a traditional bank by using a unique code.

Steps to send money abroad using a cash pickup service

Cash pickups are relatively simple to set up:

  1. Login in to the provider’s app.

  2. Enter the amount you’d like to transfer, as well as the payment method (usually a linked bank account or credit card) 

  3. Provide the recipient’s contact details, including name and identification details.

  4. Submit the payment and wait for the verification code to confirm that the transfer was successful, and to track whether the recipient has picked up the cash.

  5. The recipient will receive a unique code to retrieve the cash from a participating location

  6. Once the recipient has received the cash, you will receive a notification that the transfer is complete.

What information do you need?

Aside from information collected from your logged-in account, most cash pickup services need only a few details, including:

  • Recipient’s ID details

  • Recipient’s contact details, usually email or phone number 

Some providers may have different requirements, so make sure you check first before setting up the transaction.

Advantages of sending money through a cash pick-up service

  • Can be fast

  • Receiver gets cash, no bank account is needed

  • Many pickup locations

Disadvantages of sending money through a cash pick-up service

  • Often expensive and complicated fee structure

  • Poor exchange rates

  • Risk of theft

Step 2: Choose a provider

One of the most important steps in transferring money overseas is to choose a provider. Consider the following factors carefully:

1. Does the provider support the currency route? 

For instance, can you send Malaysian ringgit to British pounds or US dollars?

2. What payment options do they provide?

Does the provider allow bank transfers, cash pickups or can you make the payment via your debit or credit card?

3. The fees for international transfers

This can include fees charged either as a fixed amount or percentage transaction fees, as well as currency exchange fees and others.

4. How long will it take for the recipient to get the money?

Consider the time it takes to process the transaction, as well as intermediaries that add to the time it takes to complete the transaction.

5. Does the provider use mid-market exchange rate or do they add a markup?

Sometimes providers charge both. This can often be difficult to determine since many providers aren’t very open about percentages.

6. What are the transaction limits?

Most providers have a daily and/or daily limit imposed by either the provider or the country’s financial regulator.

Step 3: Get your recipient’s details

The majority of transfer providers, whether it be traditional banks or dedicated international fund transfer providers, may require certain information and/or documents, including the following:

  • Account information of both sender and recipient.

  • Identification and in some cases also proof of residence.

  • The recipient’s full name and address.

  • Name of the recipient’s bank, along with their SWIFT code, IBAN number, or Routing Number for payments to institutions not on the SWIFT or IBAN networks.

Some countries may require additional information, especially for large transfers and/or regular transactions. Check with your chosen provider to consult for more information on large transfers.  

It is important to note that the information required by providers may differ, so remember to check with the provider to ensure that you have the necessary information before setting up the transaction.

Step 4: Compare fees

It is important to compare fees, as some providers may charge hidden fees that can increase the price of the transaction significantly.  These include fees like transfer fees, exchange rate markups, intermediary fees and differences in exchange rates used

Traditional banks are known to charge fairly high fees, although this is changing and many Malaysian banks are lowering their fees to stay competitive with newer generation transfer providers. Despite lowering fees, many traditional banks charge hefty exchange fees.

Some transfer providers like WorldRemit and Wise offer so-called ‘guaranteed rate’ where the exchange rate is fixed for a certain period of time, usually 24 hours. 

Learn more about WiseLearn more about WorldRemit

Step 5: Send your money in

How you provide funds to transfer can differ between providers. Traditional banks typically take money from your bank account, while providers that offer services like cash pickups, may need you to deposit funds into a special account that is used to pay out cash to a recipient. 

Some providers let you send money from your debit or credit card, although they often charge an extra fee. Online specialist providers like Wise will also allow you to send money via your debit or credit card. 

Choose which method you feel most comfortable with, then choose a provider that offers that service.

Step 6: Your money is converted and sent out

The last step in the process involves your money being converted to the target currency and paid out to the recipient through the chosen method. 

The majority of exchange rates are calculated using the so-called currency exchange margin, also known as the exchange rate margin. This margin is the markup the providers add to the ‘real’ exchange rate when the funds are converted and can vary considerably. Traditional banks are notorious for charging high margins.

Always look up the provider’s fee policy, as well as the rate quoted to make sure that you know what rate you will be charged when converting your money.

Is it possible to cancel an international transfer?

Some banks have the option to cancel international payments, but these are not always guaranteed. Some banks and providers do allow you to cancel a payment if it’s not already been processed. Always check the provider’s policy before making a transaction.

H2: How much does it cost to send money internationally


Countries you can send money toFees appliedExchange rate usedTransfer limitsHow long it takes
Wise fees802.19 MYR + 0.61%

0.194 USD per 1 MYR


30,000 MYR per transfer


0 - 2 days

WorldRemit130

5 MYR


0.217 USD per 1 MYR


14,500 MYR per transfer


0 - 1 days


Maybank100

Up to 30 MYR transaction fee + Beneficiary agent bank fee (varies by country) + exchange markup


0.217 USD per 1 MYR


49,999.00 MYR per transfer


1 - 3 business days


CIMBMost other countries

Between 10 and 30 MYR per transaction (depending on currency and banking platform) + exchange markup


0.216 USD per 1 MYR


50,000 MYR per day


1 day
Public Bank International TransferMost other countries

2 MYR commission & 30 MYR cable charge per transaction + exchange markup


0.217 USD per 1 MYR


20,000 MYR (when using PAC security) up to 50,000 MYR (when using SecureSign) 


2 business days


*Fees and rates correct at time of research - 16 September 2022

Learn more about WiseCompare money transfer providers

Is it possible to send free international money transfers?

Yes and no. Yes, while many providers like Western Union may offer foreign transfers for no fee, it does not mean that these transfers are 100% free. Many providers make money from ‘hidden fees’ like transfer fees and adding extra fees on exchange rates. These fees get added to the price of the transaction.

How long does it take to transfer money internationally

It depends. Most international money transfers from Malaysia can take anything from a couple of minutes to three business days. Often the transaction will be processed within 24 hours, however, if the money has to go through intermediaries, it can take a day or two longer.

Note that there’s a difference between the processing time of a transaction and how long it takes for the recipient to get their money.

Is it safe to transfer money internationally

Yes. Virtually all international money transfer services have strict measures in place to protect transactions and personal data. This may include dedicated anti-fraud teams, Visa’s 3D Secure verification system, built-in security protocols of the SWIFT transfer system, or monitoring services.

Regardless of the methods that providers employ, you should always be vigilant when making financial transactions online. Watch out for suspicious websites and emails, and use 2-factor authentication where possible. 

Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Always make sure that the provider is registered and regulated

  • Double check all information before you confirm a transfer

  • Scams through money transfers are common. Be sure that you are sending money to someone you know or a business you trust. 

Conclusion

This step-by-step guide to sending money overseas from Malaysia covered many of the things that you should consider when choosing an international fund transfer service. It looked at the different types of services available, the advantages and disadvantages of each, the steps to send money overseas, and also the relevant fees involved.

Note that this article is meant to serve as a guide to make it easier to choose an international transfer provider that best suits your needs. The article is comprehensive, but not exhaustive and there may be other factors, like currency routes, that should be taken into consideration. Always do your research before choosing an international money transfer provider.

Learn more about WiseCompare money transfer providers

FAQ

How can I send money internationally?

You can send money overseas with traditional banks, specialist money transfer providers, cash pickup services, and at the post office (through intermediaries).

What information do you need to send money abroad?

It depends on the transfer method. Traditional banks may need information like name, address, sender’s proof of residence, recipient’s identification, as well as SWIFT and/or IBAN codes. Most transfer providers require names, identification, bank account numbers or service account details.

How much does it cost to send money abroad?

Costs vary between providers, it could also depend on the country you are sending money to and the transfer amount. Traditional banks usually charge a fixed fee or percentage, as well as a foreign exchange fee and GST. Transfer providers usually charge a percentage of the transaction amount. Some providers might add a transaction fee.

How long does it take to send money abroad?

Between 0 and 3 business days. Transfer time could depend on various factors such as the provider, currency, transfer method, local financial regulations, and whether intermediaries are involved. For example, Wise transfers usually take between 0 and 2 days, while transfers with MayBank can take between 1 and 3 business days.

By Seyma Mektepli
Updated 27 October 2022