PayPal International Transfer

PayPal is one of the best known financial technology brands in the world, with services covering e-commerce sales, money transfers, credit and more. In fact, close to 400 million people around the world have PayPal accounts, sending and spending huge volumes of money daily.

It’s certainly a convenient way to shop online or send quick domestic payments – but if you need to send a payment overseas, PayPal isn’t necessarily your best option. Specialist services like Wise or OFX are fast and easy to use – and could make your transfer cheaper.

Learn more about WiseGo to OFX

Does PayPal work internationally?

Yes. You can send payments using PayPal to individuals and businesses around the world. PayPal is supported in many different countries, and with a broad range of currencies on offer, too.

In this guide we’ll cover how to make an international PayPal payment, including the fees and exchange rates that apply, and also look at some great alternatives to PayPal for international transfers, to help cut your costs.

PayPal international money transfer comparison

When you send an international payment with PayPal from the US you’ll have 2 specific charges to cover:

  • The PayPal international transfer fee (5% of the transfer value)
  • The PayPal currency conversion charge or exchange rate markup (4% added to the mid-market exchange rate)

These charges quickly add up, particularly if you’re sending a higher value transfer. To see how this works, let’s look at an example payment with PayPal, compared to a few specialist services. Here we’ll use the fees that would apply for an online payment of 1,000 USD to a friend in the UK, to be received in GBP.

ProviderTotal costRecipient getsTransfer time
PayPal4.99 GBP826.22 GBPInstant
Wise7.40 GBP877.75 GBP50%+ arrive instantly, and 90% of payments arrive in 24 hours
OFXNo upfront transfer fee – but an exchange rate margin will apply874.39 GBP1 – 2 business days
Western UnionNo upfront transfer fee – but an exchange rate margin will apply887.48 GBPUp to 2 days

*Fees and exchange rates correct at time of research – 7th November 2022

You’ll see the exchange rate being offered by PayPal when you arrange your payment online or in the PayPal app. We’ll take a closer look at the PayPal exchange rate later – but it’s good to know that the PayPal rate will include a markup – a 4% fee added to the mid-market exchange rate. This can mean you’re paying more than you think for your transfer.

Finally, it’s worth noting that your international transfer with PayPal will be deposited into your recipient’s PayPal account. If they then want to withdraw it to a bank account, fees may apply, based on where their PayPal account is registered, the currencies involved, and how they set up the withdrawal.

Compare PayPal with some alternatives, to see if you can get a lower overall fee and a faster delivery time with a specialist money transfer service. Services like Wise use the mid-market exchange rate with no markups, making it far easier to see the true cost of your transfer in advance. Specialist money transfer services are secure and simple to use, and you can usually transact 24/7 online and through mobile apps.

Alternatives to PayPal

PayPal international transfer fees

PayPal has a percentage international transfer fee which is subject to maximum and minimum caps:

Transfer typePayPal international transfer fee
PayPal international transfer – personal account5% of the send amount, from 0.99 USD – 4.99 USD + exchange rate markup

Currency conversion fee also applies

PayPal exchange rate

PayPal calculates its exchange rate by taking the mid-market rate and adding a markup, called a currency conversion fee. This fee can vary a little depending on the transaction and how your PayPal account is set up. However, it’s usually 4% when you send a payment from your personal account.

Here’s a reminder of the total costs – including exchange rate markups – from the providers we looked at earlier. This is what you’ll pay with each if you set up your payment online and send 1,000 USD to the UK:

  • PayPal: 4.99 USD transfer fee + 4% currency conversion fee (exchange rate margin)
  • Wise: 7.40 GBP
  • OFX: No transfer fee, but exchange rate margin applies
  • Western Union: No transfer fee, but exchange rate margin applies

How long does a PayPal international money transfer take

When you send a payment overseas with PayPal it’ll often be deposited into the recipient’s account pretty much instantly. However, if your recipient then wants to move the funds to their own bank account for more flexibility, this may take a few days, depending on where they’re based.

Here’s a reminder of the delivery times for international transfers from PayPal and a few other providers:

  • PayPal: Instant deposit to recipient’s PayPal account – withdrawing to a bank account may take a few days depending on the recipient’s country
  • Wise: 90% of payments arrive in 24 hours
  • Western Union: Up to 2 days
  • OFX: 1 – 2 business days

Pros and cons of transferring money abroad with PayPal

Pros:

  • Very easy service to use – just enter the recipient’s email to start
  • Huge user base- high chance your recipient already has a PayPal account
  • Instant deposit into the recipient’s PayPal account

Cons:

  • Exchange rate markup applies which pushes up costs
  • Recipient needs a PayPal account to get their money

Alternatives to PayPal for International Transfers

Modern online alternative providers like Wise and OFX could provide better exchange rates and lower fees when you’re sending a payment overseas. Here are a few to consider:

Wise: Low cost international transfers which use the mid market rate, to 80+ countries. Over 50% of payments arrive instantly, and you can set up an account online or in the Wise app easily without leaving home.

OFX: Currency specialist offering personal and business payments to 50+ countries, plus currency risk management services, and a 24/7 phone support team to answer your questions.

Western Union: One of the world’s largest payment providers, you can send payments with Western Union for delivery to bank accounts, as well as for cash collection, to mobile wallets and more.

Here’s a summary of the key features for each provider which may help you pick the right one for you:

WiseOFXWestern Union
  • Low cost transfers with the mid-market rate
  • Send to 80+ countries
  • Open a Wise Account to hold 50+ currencies, and spend in 170+ countries with the Wise card
  • Send payments to 50+ countries with bank beating exchange rates
  • Phone service 24/7
  • Often no transfer fee to pay
  • Huge global business covering almost the whole world
  • Great range of pay in and pay out options
  • Get money to recipients instantly

Learn more about WiseGo to OFX

How to make an international transfer with PayPal

Here’s how to make a PayPal international payment in just a few easy steps:

  1. Log into your PayPal account and go to Send & Request
  2. Find your recipient in your contacts, or enter their email address, mobile number or name and click Next
  3. Enter the amount, choose the currency and add a payment reference
  4. Tap Payment Method, check the selected option – and click Change if you want to use a different funding source
  5. Review the details and click Send Payment Now

How to transfer money from PayPal to an international bank account

You can’t send a payment from your PayPal account to an international bank account directly. If you want to move money from PayPal to an overseas bank you’ve got a few choices:

  • Send the payment to your recipient’s PayPal account and have them withdraw it to their linked bank account once it arrives
  • Use PayPal’s sister service Xoom, if it is available in the country you want to send to
  • Withdraw from PayPal to a linked multi-currency account, like the Wise Account, and send your international transfer from there

Xoom is a different payment provider within the PayPal family, which has a broader range of transfer types – and which may be able to help if you need to get money to a bank account directly. However, fees and exchange rate markups will apply to this transfer, so you’ll want to check out all the details before you get started.

As a cheaper alternative you may want to connect a multi-currency account like the Wise Account to your PayPal, to withdraw funds in USD, convert with a fair exchange rate, and send the money to your recipient’s foreign bank account quickly online or in the provider’s app.

Related: How to send money from PayPal to Wise

How to transfer money from PayPal to another PayPal account (international)

You can send a PayPal payment to any other registered account – even if it’s held overseas. Simply follow the regular PayPal payment process, and confirm the currency you want to send when you make your payment.

What information do you need to make an international transfer with PayPal?

One of the most attractive things about sending a payment with PayPal is its simplicity. There’s no need to find your recipient’s bank details – all you need to do is look them up in your contacts, enter their email address, mobile number or name.

Assuming they have a PayPal account already the transfer is deposited in their account almost instantly. And if they don’t have a PayPal account yet, they’ll be notified by email or message that they have money waiting, with a link to set up their own PayPal account to get it.

Transfer limits and available countries

Transfer limits apply depending on the type of PayPal account you have.

If your PayPal account has not been verified, you’ll find there’s a lower limit to the amount you can send – this will be shown in your account so you know before you try to make your transfer.

If you have a verified PayPal account,you can normally send up to 10,000 USD in a single transaction.

PayPal supports a really broad range of countries and currencies – log into your account to check if your destination is available.

How to receive international payments with PayPal?

If you need to get a payment through PayPal from someone outside the US you’ll just need to make sure they have your full name, email or phone number as shown on your PayPal account.

The sender will be able to either send you a payment in their own currency, or in your currency, depending on your preferences. If you’re sent money in a currency different to your PayPal base currency you’ll probably have to convert it to your home currency using the PayPal exchange rate before you can withdraw it to your bank account.

This will mean paying the PayPal currency conversion fee which is usually 3% – 4% depending on where in the world you are.

Conclusion

PayPal is popular because of its huge range of services, and convenient online and in app user experience. However, when it comes to international transactions, the PayPal exchange rate isn’t usually the best out there. PayPal adds a markup or margin to the rates used, which can push up the costs – often without you even knowing it.

Not all providers add a markup to the exchange rate being used. Wise for example uses the mid-market rate which can keep the costs down for customers, as well as making it far easier to see what you’re really paying for your transaction. You’ll also find other payment providers like OFX may have lower conversion fees compared to PayPal, meaning a cheaper cost overall.

Compare the costs of PayPal international transfers against the fees, rates and delivery times offered by international transfer specialists like Wise, OFX and Western Union to see if you could save.

Learn more about WiseGo to OFX

PayPal international bank transfer FAQs

Can you send money internationally with PayPal?

Yes. PayPal supports accounts all over the world which means you can easily send money to someone based overseas.

How much does PayPal charge for international transfers?

There’s a 5% fee for international PayPal payments, plus a 4% currency conversion fee if you need to switch from USD to the recipient’s currency for transfer.

How long does a PayPal international money transfer take?

PayPal international transfers are usually deposited into the recipient’s PayPal account pretty much instantly. Withdrawing to a bank account can take a few days, though, and may also come with an extra fee.

How to transfer money internationally with PayPal?

Transfer money overseas with PayPal with just the recipient’s email or phone number – log into your PayPal account online or in the app to get started.

Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Editor-in-chief
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
November 14th, 2023