Sending money overseas is not as challenging as it sounds, because there are many different ways to do it. To find the way that's best suited to your situation, you need to consider two key questions: How fast do you need to get the money there? And how concerned are you about safety and convenience? Sending money online is convenient and fast, but also expensive and may not be the safest way. Other methods can be safer and less expensive but may require you to go to a specific location to send the money.
This is the most economical approach and also one of the easiest. However, it may not be convenient for you if you don't have access to transportation. It is also very slow and may take as long as a week to get the money to your destination.
Start by going to the USPS website.
Check to be sure the country where you are sending the money is on the list of countries that accept international money orders. If not, you'll need to use one of the other methods.
Determine whether the amount of money being sent is going to be denominated in U.S. dollars or the currency of the country where you are sending it. If the latter, check exchange rates online.
Example: You want to send 2,000 pesos to Mexico. The calculator (see Resources) will tell you that you need approximately $191 to do this (as of May 2008).
Go to your bank or ATM. Withdraw cash in the amount you are sending overseas plus an extra $10 to $12 for the money order fee and postage.
Go to the post office and ask to purchase a postal money order to be sent to the appropriate country. The clerk will ask whether it needs to be in U.S. dollars or that country's currency, so be ready to tell him.
The clerk will tell you the total cost. It should reflect the exchange rate plus a processing fee of $3.85 as of May 2008. This must be paid in cash. Note that the maximum for a single money order is $700, so if you are sending more than that, you will need to purchase and send additional money orders.
Buy postage to send your money order to the recipient of the envelope. Most likely, you will want to provide some additional protection such as certified mail. This may not be available in all countries, so check with the clerk.
Put money order(s) in the envelope, attach postage and hand it to the clerk. Be sure to get a receipt.
This is the most secure way to send money overseas and one of the quickest, but it is also the most expensive.
Explain to your recipient that you will transfer the money directly into her bank account, so you will need the address of the bank, her account number and the bank's routing number. If the recipient does not know the routing number, she will have to contact the bank for it and get back to you with this information.
Go to the bank and ask to speak with a personal banker or manager. A teller cannot usually assist you with this type of transaction.
When you explain what you need, the banker will provide you with a form to list the required information. Remember, you cannot transfer money without the recipient's bank account number and bank routing number. A name and address are not sufficient.
Complete the form and sign it. The bank employee will take care of the rest and provide you with a receipt. The money should reach your recipient's bank account within 24 hours or on the next business day.
It's a good idea to let your recipient know the name of your bank. That way, the transaction can be checked from either end if there are any delays.
Ask your recipient to confirm that the money has arrived safely in his account. Once you hear this, you're done.
If you are comfortable sending money online---and not everyone is---this is the quickest and most convenient way for you to do it. It is less convenient for the recipient, who will have to go to a local Western Union office to get the money. It is also more expensive than a postal money order and not as secure as a wire transfer.
Start by going to WesternUnion.com and verifying that there is a pickup location in your recipient's area, one that she can easily get to. (If not, you will need to use another method.)
Register with Western Union. You'll need to provide your name, address, phone number and so forth and create a password.
Click on "Send Money" under Online Transactions. Fill in the countries, as indicated, and select the "Money in Minutes" option. (You can also use the Economy option, which is cheaper, but it takes three days and requires the bank information called for in Method 2.)
Provide the recipient's information, and enter your credit card/debit card information when prompted. Save any control numbers provided by the site.
Inform your recipient that the money has been sent. Provide any additional information, as advised by Western Union. Your recipient can then pick up the money in local currency at the Western Union agent location you've agreed on or any other location in the area.
Don't send money online or by any other method to someone you don't know or in response to any Internet offer referencing lottery winnings, inheritance, business transactions and the like---no matter how credible it sounds to you.