As the world becomes increasingly connected, more and more people or businesses need to send money abroad. How are these transactions classified? Just what is a remittance? Read on.

The act of transferring money from one country to another is a remittance. These transfers have become a large part of the global economy.

Do you send money across borders? It’s important to understand how it works. That’s why, here at Remitly, we’ve put together this guide.

What is a remittance?

Let’s start with the basic definition. A “remittance” is the transfer of money to a person or place. That is to say, it’s basically the same as an international money transfer.

Many remittances are sent from foreign workers who moved abroad seeking economic opportunities. They send part of their income home to their country of origin.

Remitly’s customers live in countries like the United States, Canada, and the UK. They send their hard-earned money to support loved ones in countries such as Mexico, India, or the Philippines.

The sacrifice they’ve made helps improve the quality of life for their families and the economy of their home countries. That’s why we work every day to help them get more money home.

Other reasons for sending money sent overseas are business-related. These include paying employees or invoices with partners in other countries.

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Money transfer terms to know

If you’re planning to send money abroad, you may come across different terms related to remittances.

To help avoid confusion, we’re explaining the most common phrases you’ll find.

Payment remittance

This is just a synonym for the key term. In other words, it means that you’re sending money to a person in another place.

Remittance advice

This is a document that a customer sends to a supplier stating their invoice has been paid. It’s typically included with the payment.

A remittance advice is designed for business transactions instead of personal ones. While it’s a nice courtesy, it’s not necessary.

Remittance address

Also called the remit or remit-to address, this is the address of the person or company receiving the money you’re sending.

Check with the recipient to get the right address before you submit the transfer request. This helps to avoid delays in the transaction.

Remittance float

The “float” is the time it takes for a payment to process.

If you send a wire transfer that takes 7-10 business days, for instance, the amount of time it takes to deposit the money into the recipient’s account is the remittance float.

How do remittances affect the global economy?

Remittances have increased in recent years because of advances in technology. Until the late 1990s, international aid was the largest financial inflow to many developing countries. Since then, remittances have exceeded that amount.

What’s more, money sent by overseas workers may comprise a large portion of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2015, these funds accounted for roughly 10 percent of the Philippines’ and Guatemala’s economy, and around 7 percent of Vietnam’s economy.

In 2016 alone, an estimated $574 billion (USD) was sent abroad in remittances. Included in this figure is $136 billion sent from the United States to a wide variety of countries.

In 2017, the following ten countries were the top remittance receivers:

Top remittance receiving countries in 2017

Remittances play a crucial role in a developing country’s economy. A prime example is their contribution to disaster relief aid. It often far exceeds the aid disbursed as official development assistance (ODA) from foreign governments or the United Nations.

Receiving money can also encourage people in less developed countries to open bank accounts. This impacts economic development positively.   

Below you can watch economist Dilip Ratha’s TEDXTalk for more insights on remittances:

How can I send a remittance?

There are many ways to transfer funds abroad, but some methods are more costly than others.

Be aware of currency exchange rates, transfer fees, and remittance float (the time to process the money transfer). Sending money via cash or check can cause serious delays, for example.

Since companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram do not require a bank account to send money, many people prefer them. The downside is that using these methods comes at a steep cost.

Fortunately, digital money transfer companies like Remitly help you avoid some of those fees.

Remitly gets you great exchange rates, too, and we transfer your money as quickly as possible. This ensures that your loved ones receive funds on time. If not, you get your money back.

Looking for a secure, low-cost alternative for sending a remittance? Start sending money with Remitly today.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topics discussed herein. This publication is not a substitute for seeking advice from an applicable specialist or professional. The content in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Remitly or any of its affiliates and should not be relied upon as such. While we strive to keep our posts up to date and accurate, we cannot represent, warrant or otherwise guarantee that the content is accurate, complete or up to date.