Author, Andrew Gibson
To transfer money from Cyprus to the UK, you can use either a bank or a money transfer specialist.
I’ll explain the process, how long it takes, the costs, and how to avoid paying high charges.
How to transfer money from Cyprus to the UK (in 4 steps)
Sending money from Cyprus to a UK bank account is not complicated once you understand how it works.
Step 1 – Identity check
Before you can send money internationally, all new customers are required by law to have an ID check.
This is due to global anti-money laundering regulations.
Most people can be verified pretty easily – the most common way is passport number and driver’s licence (or a recent bill).
Step 2 – Secure an exchange rate
Once the ID check is done, you can secure an exchange rate if you wish.
To send money from Cyprus to the UK, it is the Euro to Pound exchange rate that matters.
Whenever you’re ready, a bank or money transfer specialist will quote you their latest EUR to GBP rate.
You are not obligated to accept that rate if the time is not right for you.
No transaction will happen without your authority.
If you are happy to go ahead at the rate quoted, the exchange rate is locked-in.
You should also receive a confirmation by email showing all the details of your transaction.
Step 3 – Send in your Euros
A bank will require you have the Euros in your account upfront, whereas a money transfer company will allow you to secure an exchange rate before you send your Euros in.
If you are using a money transfer company, the confirmation email will have the details of where the send your funds.
This will be to a designated client bank account.
You will also need to provide the details of the UK bank account where you want your funds sent.
Step 4 – Your euros are converted to pounds and sent to the UK
Once your bank or money transfer company has received your Euros, they will be converted into Pounds at the exchange rate previously locked-in.
Your Pounds are then sent to the UK bank account you’ve requested.
How long does it take?
It takes 1-3 working days to transfer money from Cyprus to the UK.
The actual conversion of Euros to Pounds takes only a few minutes. The rest of the time taken is waiting for the funds to clear into your UK bank account so you can access them.
The reason it may take anywhere between 1-3 days is that each UK bank runs its own random checks.
It’s just a fact of life that some payments arrive faster than others.
One way you can speed things up is to send in your Euros as soon as possible so there no hold-up waiting for your funds to clear with a money transfer specialist.
Banks vs money transfer specialists – what’s the difference?
Both banks and money transfer specialists use the same SWIFT payment system.
So the method of payment is the same.
The main differences are to do with cost and service.
Banks are generally a more costly option.
However, for small payments, you may consider it more convenient to use a bank in Cyprus.
For larger international payments, it makes financial sense to consider using a money transfer company.
The overriding feedback I have had from customers is that banks charge a lot and can be frustrating to deal with.
As you probably know, the bank branches in Cyprus only open for some of the day and most shut early afternoon (around 1.30 pm-2.30 pm).
You queue up only to find the staff member doesn’t know much about making an international transfer.
Then, once you complete all the paperwork, you won’t hear from anyone again and have to hope and pray your money arrives in the UK.
You get the impression that the banks want you to do everything yourself online these days.
Yet at the same time banks restrict the amount of money you can send online.
This makes it difficult for someone wanting to send a large amount of money to the UK.
Money transfer companies don’t tend to have any limits on the amount of money you can transfer – which makes them a more flexible option.
There are also some extra service features offered by money transfer specialists.
Some will allow you to fix or guarantee the exchange rate for an agreed period of time (known as a forward contract), let you set specific limits on the rate, or inform you when the rate swings in your favour.
|Bank||Can use your existing account||High charges, minimal service||Small payments, convenience|
|Money transfer specialist||Lower cost, more efficient||Need to register||Large or regular amounts|
The charges explained (including the hidden ones)
When you transfer money from Cyprus to the UK, there are two types of charges:
- Exchange rate
A lot of people think the fees are the only charge.
I see it mentioned on expat discussion boards all the time: “My bank charges me €20 to send money back to the UK” etc.
That’s not actually true.
They are referring to the basic transaction fee charged by banks.
Below is a quick overview of fees charged by the two largest banks in Cyprus:
- Hellenic Bank charges a ‘creation fee’ based on amount of Euros sent at 0.15% with €20 min, €250 max (branch) or 0.10% with €10 min, €200 max (online). These are for an Outgoing Transfer in a standard personal account.
- Bank of Cyprus charges a ‘processing fee’ of €15 (branch) or €10 (online). There is an additional SWIFT fee of 0.05% with €20 min, €200 max.
But banks can also add other fees.
Expect to pay another €30 to €50 if you need an urgent payment.
You may also get hit with “correspondent” fees, which is a fee from the bank receiving your money.
Bank of Cyprus charges a €12 to €60 correspondent fee depending on the amount you send.
It’s not easy to anticipate the total fees a bank will charge because their schedules of tariffs run for 15+ pages.
There is a simple way to bypass these fees…don’t use a bank.
2. Exchange Rates
If you’re new to money transfers, you might think exchange rates are roughly the same wherever you go.
That’s not the case.
Every bank and money transfer specialist set their own exchange rates.
For larger money transfers, the exchange rate is normally a lot more important than the fees.
Our research found that for Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic and Eurobank, the exchange rate margin was typically around 2%.
As an example; say you have sold a property in Cyprus for €90,000 and want to send the money back to the UK.
A 2% exchange rate margin would equate to €1,800 in exchange rate costs.
That’s a lot more than a couple of hundred euros in fees.
On a large money transfer, the exchange rate costs dwarf the bank fees.
It’s why I always suggest get an alternative quote.
In my experience, the major banks in any country usually charge uncompetitive exchange rates because they know many customers will automatically use their services no matter what.
Here’s a quick tip: if you make an exchange rate comparison against your bank, do it at roughly the same time, as the Euro to Pound exchange rate will fluctuate throughout the day.
Are there restrictions on getting money out of Cyprus?
Although there are no foreign exchange restrictions between Cyprus and the UK, problems still exist in getting money out of the country.
Back in 2013, Cyprus imposed capital controls to avert a banking crisis, but these restrictions were removed in 2015.
However, as British expats have discovered, it can still be a lot easier sending money from the UK to Cyprus than it is sending money from Cyprus to the UK.
It’s to do with anti-money laundering rules.
Because Cyprus has been used in the past as a transit country for Russian money laundering, some banks deem any money leaving Cyprus as ‘high-risk’.
Unfortunately, innocent British expats get dragged into this mess.
All that’s needed is a common-sense approach.
If you are a British expat, there is nothing wrong with moving your money to the UK once the standard ID checks have been done, particularly on property sales as there is a clear legal trail of the transaction.
How safe are money transfers between Cyprus and the UK?
Given the size of the British expat community in Cyprus, sending money back to the UK is a well-trodden path.
However, there are some things to consider before choosing a money transfer provider.
My recommendation is to select a company that is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
A regulated company must process customer funds through a segregated client bank account to keep the money safe.
Most of the leading money transfer companies are regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.
You can check their validity by entering their name on the FCA register
- You can use a bank or money transfer specialist.
- It should take 1-3 working days.
- The fees and charges can vary considerably.
- Choose a regulated entity that safeguards client money.
- For larger transfers, such as property sales, the costs and timing of your transfer can make a significant financial difference.
Key Currency is a leading money transfer specialist.
We provide a trusted and helpful alternative to using a bank.
Unlike the banks and online-only operators, we don’t push you onto a platform and make you do everything yourself.
All our customers are assigned an account manager who will take care of the entire process, ensuring your transfer goes smoothly from start to finish.
Our account managers can also discuss the outlook for exchange rates with you to help optimise the timing of your transfer.
That sets us apart from other money transfer providers that are really just online platforms or “apps”.
We will work with you to get the best rates, avoid losses and reduce costs.
As a company, we are open and transparent.
We don’t hide behind a corporate logo or meaningless jargon.
The names and faces of all our people are shown on our website.
We have a 5-Star “Excellent” customer rating on the review website Trustpilot; which is the highest rating available.
Key Currency Ltd is an FCA regulated Authorised Payment Institution (No. 753989), and as such, all money transfers are conducted through safeguarded client accounts.
To make a no-obligation enquiry, please request a quote below.