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My (European) bank accepts incoming USD transfers only when a specific Intermediary Bank is used.

My friend's (United States) bank doesn't allow to specify Intermediary Bank SWIFT codes, because it says they have their own they use.

I would like to know if is it common practice to only accept transfers through a specific Intermediary Bank?

Also, is my friend's bank allowed to only use their own Intermediary Banks without allowing my friend to specify one?

  • This practice is very rare in the US but more common in europe and canada, particularly with smaller banks. And yes, it is allowed in most countries. – Vality Nov 11 '19 at 17:22
  • Thank you @Vality, so does it mean it can happen that two banks, even by using intermediary banks, can't work together? – Fez Vrasta Nov 11 '19 at 17:30
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    It will at least be a lot harder to make it work. But you do have several options. You could use an international transfer service like Transferwise, they will take a fee but it will usually be a low lower than a bank's international wire fee, and they will facilitate the international part of the transfer. You could send the money to someone you trust with an account at another bank in the country of the recipient who could then send it on. Or, if you phone the bank in the US it is possible they can do a transfer through a specific intermediary, but don't offer it on the standard form. – Vality Nov 11 '19 at 17:35
  • If this is useful I could post it as an answer, but I didnt want to make an incomplete answer till I was sure exactly what information you needed. Should I do so? – Vality Nov 11 '19 at 17:36
  • @Vality I'm transferring USD to a European USD account, so I'm not sure if TransferWise could be an option, but yes, please feel free to add this as an answer, I think you provided a lot of valuable informations. – Fez Vrasta Nov 11 '19 at 17:38
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This is a somewhat common practice in various parts of the world. I know several European (both continental and UK) and Canadian banks who do require use of a specific intermediary, and almost all banks in those regions also offer to send money via a specific intermediary. It is allowed in most countries, in fact bank accounts are (generally) not legally required to support international transfers at all.

However this is very rare in the US to the point many people do not even know about it, and many banks either won't support it at all or will need special forms or a manual phone call to perform such a transfer.

In this position you really have a few options I can think of:

  • Call the US based bank and see if they have a special procedure to send a wire transfer via a specific intermediary, this will possibly cause them to charge higher fees for the service or they may say no.
  • Send the money to a trusted person in Europe who has a bank which does not require a specific intermediary, but supports USD balances. They can then send it on either via another wire or a conventional transfer.
  • Use a dedicated international money transfer company like transferwise. They have a guide on how to send USD to accounts outside the US here. Most of these services can cope with the quirks of banks and their transfer requirements, and will at least be a point of contact if there are issues.

(Please note I am not affiliated with any money transfer services or banks, I am just speaking from personal experience using them.)

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