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Created on 22.05.2023

Six tips for international transfers

Do you have international business partners and want to transfer money abroad or receive money from other countries? Our professional advice reveals the key points when making international payments.

Swiss companies engage in a great deal of international commerce. But what do SMEs need to know when they are paying a supplier invoice from a foreign business partner for the first time or if they want to receive a payment from abroad? Our expert Sandro Corsellini, Offering Management International & FX at PostFinance, gives us some great advice for efficient and favourable payment transactions with your business partners outside Switzerland.

Sandro Corsellini has worked at PostFinance since 2009 and headed Front Office International Payments for four years before moving to Product Management for international payments.

Tip 1: Make sure that the payment details are complete and correct.

The information you need to successfully make an international payment depends on whether the payment is made in the SEPA area or worldwide with or without IBAN. Entering complete and correct information avoids unnecessary delays or rejections (e.g. because the BIC is entered in the account number field instead of the account number) and avoid painful losses as a result of currency conversions.

SEPA and IBAN: the perfect combination

In Europe, the IBAN  has become established for designating the beneficiary account for payments. So if your company want to make a payment to Europe, we always recommend using the InternationalBankAccount Number (IBAN) of the beneficiary business partner. IBAN payments are particularly advantageous in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), the payment transaction area in which the EU states, the EEA countries, as well as Switzerland and Monaco participate. PostFinance does not charge you for SEPA payments that can only be made in EUR. In rare cases, foreign banks charge credit fees for SEPA payments from Switzerland. Whether a payment is executed according to the SEPA standard is recognized automatically and displayed in e-finance and in the PostFinance app.

    • IBAN
    • Recipient details: Name or company, address (postcode/town), country
    • Amount and currency (only possible in EUR)
    • Due date
    • IBAN
    • Recipient details: Name or company, address (postcode/town), country
    • Currency and amount (different currencies, depending on recipient country)
    • Due date or urgent transfer Yes/No
    • Fee payment (share third-party fees with recipient: shared cost or accept all third-party fees: our cost)
  • Many countries outside of Europe do not use IBAN. If no IBAN is available for payments outside Europe, the following information is required:

    • Recipient details: Name or company, address (postcode/town), country
    • Recipient account number
    • Recipient bank account (BIC or local bank ID number (clearing, routing number,  etc.)
    • Currency and amount
    • Due date or urgent transfer Yes/No
    • Fee payment (share third-party fees with recipient: shared cost or accept all third-party fees: our cost)

Tip 2: If possible, always use the IBAN

IBAN enables automatic and so extremely efficient processing of transfers in international payment transactions. If there’s no IBAN, the correct account number and bank details (in most cases this is the eight or eleven-digit BIC) are relevant. If you are entering the payment into your software, always enter the name and address of the recipient bank as well, just to be on the safe side.

Tip 3: Clarify in advance what costs will be incurred for an international bank transfer

As a PostFinance customer, SEPA payments are free of charge for you; for all other payments to foreign accounts, we charge you a basic fee of CHF 2. In addition to these costs, third-party fees may be incurred from the forwarding banks. With the shared cost option, these third-party fees are deducted directly from the transfer amount and charged to the business partner receiving the payment; with the our cost option, you accept all third-party fees at a flat rate of CHF 22. Please note that even with the our cost option, the recipient bank may still charge credit fees to the recipient on the incoming amount. This is beyond PostFinance’s control.

So if you’re uncertain, check the fees and charges in advance – especially if it is important for a transaction that the entire amount reaches the recipient business partner at a certain time or where large amounts are involved. Our specialists for international payment transactions will be happy to assist you with your queries. If you have any unanswered questions about fees charged by the recipient bank, we advise that you ask your business partner to make further enquiries with their bank.

Tip 4: Track your international transfers in e-finance

As a company, you can track all international payments except SEPA payments in e-finance. This works in a similar way to parcel tracking, although tracking is only possible to the extent that the banks involved are connected to SWIFT’s  Track & Trace system. Worldwide, all large financial institutions and a total of around 50 percent of all financial institutions are already participating.

You use tracking by viewing the desired payment in e-finance and clicking on tracking. With Track & Trace, you can view the status of your payment at any time and always see the current status of fees as well as the amount actually credited to the recipient bank abroad.

Tip 5: Take advantage of same-day payments up to midday and urgent transfers

Would you like your international transfer to be credited as quickly as possible?

  • Same-day payments: Use the free same-day payment option for transfers that you would like to be executed on the same day. Enter your payment in e-finance or in your software by midday (weekdays) at the latest, and enter the current date as the due date in the payment screen so that the payment is processed on the same day. Corrections are no longer possible after you have entered a same-day payment. If you don’t change the date proposed by the system, the payment will be executed on the next banking day.
  • Urgent payments: Urgent payments, which PostFinance offers in eleven currencies, are transferred abroad with express status just a few minutes after they have been entered. The credit is usually issued on the same day (depending on the time of posting and the selected recipient country). Choose the Urgent option (a fee of CHF 12 applies) in the payment screen in e-finance.

Tip 6: Hedge your currency risks for recurring transfers in a specific currency

Do you frequently conduct transactions in a specific currency? In this case, it may be worthwhile to open an account in the corresponding currency so that you can feed it by buying foreign currency at favourable exchange rates. In this way, you reduce your own currency fluctuation risk while using the ups and downs of the exchange rates to your advantage. With foreign exchange transactions (spot, forward and swap transactions), PostFinance gives you the opportunity to trade in foreign currencies in a simple way. Our specialists would be happy to advise you personally on trading with foreign currencies. Contact us by phone at 0848 888 900.

Our tips for international transfers at a glance

  • Want to avoid unnecessary rejections? Enter all the required payment details correctly and in full, and use IBAN whenever possible.
  • Want to save time and money? Bear in mind the midday deadline for same-day payments.
  • Be aware of time zone differences when making urgent transfers. The payment can only be credited as quickly as is possible based on the corresponding time zone.
  • Use the tracking function in e-finance to keep track of everything.
  • Do you want to protect yourself? For large payment amounts in foreign currencies, use foreign exchange transactions for currency hedging with a foreign currency account in the relevant currency.

Our payment transaction specialists will be happy to help you

Contact us if you have any questions – for example, if you are unsure which details of a supplier invoice belong in which field of the payment screen or if you are dealing for the first time with a supplier from a country that does not use IBAN. You are welcome to contact us at +41 58 667 97 67.

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