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How to transfer money to Europe from the Philippines

Remember this blog post on how to send money out of the Philippines?

money, out of the Philippines, transfer, US Dollar, Euro, peso, Send money abroad, forward money to foreign account, money out of the Philippines

How to get money out of the Philippines?

My son and I transferred a lot of Euros to our Peso account (big mistake because of the weakening peso!!). The initial idea was to invest in a business in the Philippines. But we changed our minds and now we have the unpleasant task of transferring all the money back to Europe. We opened a BDO Online Peso Savings Account after receiving our first ACR-iCard, proof of long stay in the Philippines, and we received a BDO Mastercard, a debit card ...


We finally found a good solution to transfer our money out of the country and for little costs. 

Now when I posted that post on FB a lot of expats jumped on me that is was easy as hell to transfer money out of the Philippines. I disagree with them. There is a total War on Cash going on worldwide due to terrorism fundings and tax evasions, money laundering and more fishy and obscure stuff that I do not even want to mention. Financial borders are tightening and money needs a huge paper trail to be allowed to transfer, especially from the Philippines to anywhere.

For some people it is easier to transfer than for others, it all depends on the countries you are working with

The biggest issue with getting your knowledge straight is the non-existing professionalism of banking companies and the products they offer. Staff simply has no clue about possibilities and how things work. They promise you everything and assure you to get you as a customer and then you are left with nothing but empty promises.

The staff at our BDO Branche in Dumaguete has no clue whatsoever how to transfer money back to Europe and at what cost. What procedures are and how to go about it. They simply tell you that from a Peso, internet savings account it is only possible if you pay big fees and have plenty of time at your hands for it will take weeks for the money to be transferred. it is a manual transaction inside the bank that needs several signatures and levels of approval. Banco Central Philippines has a policy that money should stay inside the Philippines and preferably not leave the country unless it is for trading or to stimulate the economy. Since transferring money out of the country does not include any of that, they make it as unpleasant as possible.

The same stuff is happening in the Europe side of the line. You can only transfer as much as 9,999 Euro otherwise the transaction is flagged as suspicious and the FIOD (Dutch Financial and Tax Enforcement)will check the paper trail which you have to prove.

Nobody wants their money being blocked by bureaucracy when it is not clear on what to proof exactly and how long it will take

So we want to work around all that. Simple. And we want to find the most affordable way to transfer. For it can cost as much as 40 Euros per transaction, no matter how much money is transferred.

But we have found a way and miraculously it works like magic, even better than we expected.
As you can read in the previous article we were told to open a US Dollar account at BDO. So we proceeded with that. We made 2 cash deposits to test it out, 600 US$ each, it takes over 2 weeks for the money to be available to transfer. That is a drag. And we need to go to an exchange office every single time.

So the steps we take each time are:

  1. take money out  our Pesos Savings with our ATM Card
  2. go to an exchange office and buy US$
  3. fall in line int he bank and deposit the dollars with proof of source (receipt from the exchange office)
  4. wait for two weeks
  5. transfer the money online to our Dutch Bank account

How can we make that easier?

We talked to Optimum Traders in Dumaguete were we reside for the moment, on the advice of a bank employee, we exchange our peso there to US$) and the manager of Optimum Traders, which we found to be very professional and knowledgeable,  came with a great solution:

They transfer US$ to our US$ account at BDO, the same time we transfer Pesos to their account, Since it is a trusted wire transfer the money in our US$ account will be available within 12 hours.


So we set an appointment and spent a Filipino style bank day, with the workers from Optimum Trading, the company has dedicated workers in each bank in Dumaguete, first BPI, for their dollars were in BPI, then BDO and then back to BPI again to get the wire receipt for proof of source. (The famous paper trail large money transactions need these days)

Europe has blocked its borders tight when it comes to incoming funds, while the Philippines has blocked its borders for outgoing funds

It worked just as they promised, funny to discover that external bank staff from a third party has a better knowledge of the banking system than the bank employees themselves. But that aside. We had access to our dollars that same evening we got the wire transfer, but there was more magic in the air for us!

Now it was a matter of transferring it in acceptable amounts to Europe….we did a try out first, 1200 US$ just to see how it works. We transferred to costs of the transaction to the Dutch bank, for we figured that would only cost 9 Euros while the Philippines, BDO charges us at least  40 Euro. (as far as we could figure their procedure fees out)

The extra magic is that the money arrived almost instantly. BDO Staff told us 5-10 working days, but within 2 working days, the money was in the Dutch account. So now we can start transferring the rest of our savings back to Europe.


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2 reacties

  • JC from Holland

    Yes, I transferred from BDO US$ account but to a European standard (euro) account. So in my case, I lost money twice on the exchange rates. From Cash Filipino Peso to US$ and from US$ to Euro. For you can only transfer US$ out of the Philippines.

    The law is that no Filipino peso can be converted straight into a foreign currency digitally and send out of the country, so you have to take the peso out of your account, exchange it to US$, put it back into your newly opened US$ BDO account (we used a trusted exchange office for that and sometimes it was not even cash money but we used the BDO account of the exchange office) From there you can (online) transfer the US$ to EURopean bank accounts of any currency.

    You use the European IBAN/Swift code of your European Bank and bank account number.

    Please note that there is a maximum amount of money that can be transferred at one transaction and per week, due to money laundry rules in Europe.!! For the Netherlands Euro accounts, an amount of 5000 Euros is free to transfer, all higher amounts will be held and blocked for investigation for a few days.

    On the Filipino side, you may have to prove where the money came from once you add it to the US$ account, even when you do it with the bank’s help and right under their noses with the exchange person next to you. You both have to sign a declaration of income source. (just say it was in your Filipino bank account for a certain period of time, or personal savings, or something like that) We went every week for a couple of weeks to transfer money and they only asked it the third or fourth time and only once)

    Crazy world the financial world and not something that is shared with you when you open the account at BDO (or anywhere in the world)

    Good luck!

  • Mikael Laurel

    Hi JC, regarding the article above, you did transfer from BDO US dollar account to a Euro dollar account in Europe right? What bank details did you give them? (not your personal account nr) I meant , is the IBAN nr is all they need? Did you send US dollar currency and automatically converts it to Euro Dollar so you’ll receive Euro dollar currency in your account? I’ve read somewhere at BDO webbpage that you can transfer funds at their online banking too. Thank you for your assistance. I’m a bit worried now since the economy in the Philippines is shaking due to pandemic, you never know if banks can be affected too so it is better to move the funds bank to Europe.