June 4, 2014 | In: Financial

The Problem with International Wire Transfers to Canadian Banks

If you have ever tried doing a wire transfer from outside Canada to a Canadian bank, then you have probably smiled after reading the title of this post. It’s a weird experience that may or may not work from the first 5 tries, especially if you’re transferring money to a Canadian account in USD. Why is that?

Well, because Canadian banks have this peculiar way of not using their own swift code for international transfers to a USD account, for some reason, they use the swift code of a bank in the states. For example, if you have a USD account in TD Canada Trust (which is one of the Big 5), then, if you request the wire transfer information to your own account, then they will give you the swift code of Bank of America. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) will give you the swift code of Wells Fargo. Now, since the swift code is not that of the Canadian bank (but that of a US bank), then this naturally means that the address of the bank, as well as your account number, are both different for the wire, and this is where the fun starts. Not a single person in any of the 2 banks I deal with has given me the right wire information so that I can give to my clients. I did have one client who tried 5 times to send me the wire, losing about $30 each time they tried to send it, and each time I was telling TD that the wire is not working, and they were sending me new information to send back to my client (I would have posted the hilarious email thread here if it didn’t contain some sensitive information about my TD account). Eventually, my client gave up and sent me a check.

What’s even weirder about Canadian banks is that they don’t use the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) for wire transfers (check this thread if you want to know how confusing the decision not to use IBAN is to customers), which makes the whole process of sending money (especially from outside North America) to Canada a near-death experience. Thankfully, I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure it is, since banks outside North America will not even accept to send the wire if there is no IBAN.

If you successfully wired some money from outside Canada to a USD account in Canada, then you should consider yourself a lucky man, since the process won’t work for most people. Oh, and by the way, don’t expect a lot of sensible help from your Canadian bank when it comes to wires.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

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