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Old 28.09.2011, 17:11
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Re: Sending money from Switzerland to UK

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From what I read I think SEPA transfers are always in Euros. Does that mean that for a transfer to the UK you have two points for potential exchange rate losses i.e. CHF>Euro, then Euro>Sterling?
SEPA refers to the area/countries covered by the Directive. The area corresponds to all EU/EEA/EFTA countries, so includes CH and FL for example.

It only includes payments made and received in Euros though. So yes for it to be valid to/from UK and CH neither of which have the EUR as their currency, you'd need to send the money from CH in EUR and receive it as EUR in UK. Obviously an EUR account linked to your GBP and CHF local accounts would help.

An alternative is to open a GBP account linked to your CHF account in CH and send the money from there. You will then save on the exchange hit arriving in the UK if funds are already sent in GBP. There may be a transmissal fee depending on your bank and method and urgency used.

Personally I transfer from my CHF account to my GBP account in Postfinance online. I then send the GBP to my UK account online. As the money is in GBP I'm not charged to receive the money. I would be if sent in CHF. When transferring the CHF to GBP within Postfinance online, I tend to save a few basis points on the conversion, I may not be getting the most competitive rate though.

I do sometimes consider opening an EUR account in the UK to receive free EUR payments under SEPA. My UK bank doesn't allow me to open this online though, and I'm not visiting so often these days, and I don't really need their expensive expat deals. (Opening UK accounts as a non-resident is a hassle thanks to moneylaundering etc.).

So if you want to benefit from SEPA in non-EUR currency countries, send and receive in EUR from/to EUR denominated accounts.

On a side note my UK bank now supports 25k transfers within the UK. Obviously this is not supported to/from CH as it falls foul of the €10k outside EU transfer limit/declaration obligation. Here SEPA doesn't help.

So yeah it's a typical example of restrictive EU "progress" which forgets that other EU laws don't apply to all the countries in the agreement, and doesn't apply to all the currencies of the countries in the agreement.
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