Wire Transfers

Wire Transfers

A wire transfer is a payment made to a foreign vendor by electronically transferring payment from UCB's bank account directly to the vendor's bank account.  Generally, wire transfers are accepted world-wide, though a wire transfer cannot be processed to a sanctioned country.

When is it appropriate to request a wire transfer?
Wire transfers are used for foreign vendors only. A wire transfer may be the best payment method when:

  • The vendor will have difficulty cashing a check drawn on a U.S. bank account or issued in U.S. dollars
  • The time to mail a check overseas, and the risk that the check may be lost in the mail, are not acceptable.

Processing a wire transfer is manual and costly, so this payment method should be used only when it makes good business sense.

An Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) through the U.S. NACHA network should be requested for vendors with U.S. bank accounts.

What is the cost?
Many recipient banks levy a handling fee (or “landing” charge) for the administration of wire transfers. This practice varies but is common among Asian and European financial institutions. The handling fee is deducted from the wire transfer, and consequently, the beneficiary’s bank account may not be credited with the full amount that was originally disbursed by UCB.  UCB does not reimburse vendors for wire transfer fees.

Currently, the fee charged by UCB’s bank to initiate a wire transfer is paid for centrally. This fee is not distributed to vendors or to departments requesting wire transfers.

What is a Confirmation Number?
A confirmation number indicates the sending bank has initiated the transfer; the confirmation number does not imply that the beneficiary has received the funds. Such code numbers are internal to the processing bank and generally have no relevance to the beneficiary’s institution.

Once Initiated at the Bank, How Long Does a Wire Transfer Take?
The University cannot guarantee nor indicate when a wire transfer will be credited to a beneficiary's bank account, as this is not under the University's control, nor is it under the control of UC’s bank. The processing time is impacted by the location of the receiving bank and correspondent relationships between the financial intermediaries through which the wires are processed.

Bank Code Definitions for Requesting Wires
Please see link below for commonly used bank code definitions:

Bank Code Definitions for Requesting Wires (PDF)

Foreign Bank Authorization Form (PDF)

What is the Process for Making a Payment by Wire?


1. Supplier Set Up

2. Collect required banking information

  • Request the Payee/Vendor provide a completed Foreign Bank Authorization Form (PDF).
  • The form must be signed by the payee as a way to confirm that the banking instructions are accurate. The payee’s bank information will stay in effect until the payee notifies the University by submitting a new Foreign Bank Authorization Form.
  • Submit completed form to apbankforms@berkeleyedu. Include "Wire" in the subject line of the email. You will receive a ticket number via email from apbankforms@berkeleyedu.
  • Retain the ticket number for use in the Payment Request Form.

3. Create and submit a Payment Request in BearBuy

  • Create a Payment Request Form in BearBuy.
  • Select “Wire” for Payment Method.
  • Ticket Numbers are only required for all wire transfer requests. In the field labeled “Ticket Number,” provide ticket number received from apbankforms@berkeleyedu that was created when the Foreign Bank Authorization Form was submitted. BearBuy supplier name should match supplier name on invoice and beneficiary name on FBA form. Prior to initiating the wire transfer, departments must confirm the banking information. If the invoice contains banking information that is different from the FBA form, the wire could be rejected.
  • In the field labeled "Internal Payment Note”, provide the currency in which payment should be made. Unless specifically requested otherwise by the vendor, the currency type and the amount authorized on the Payment Request Form should be in US dollars. If payment in a foreign currency is required, use this currency converter and enter the amount converted to US dollars on the Payment Request Form. Please attach a copy of the currency conversion. (CAUTION: Some countries do not accept their currencies from outside their borders. To prevent unknown currency conversion rates, it is highly recommended that wire transfers be in US Dollars.)
  • For Invoices:
    • Attach the invoice and supporting documentation to the Payment Request.
  • For Travel Reimbursements
    • Attach the applicable completed travel reimbursement form below in lieu of entry into the travel reimbursement system.
    • For foreign visitors/guests (not a UC student or employee), please ensure all documentation and requirements are met. If the payee is a UC student or employee, then the requirements referenced for foreign visitors do not apply, regardless of their citizenship status.
    • Attach required itemized travel receipts and, where applicable, note the currency conversion to US Dollars on the receipts. Please redact any confidential information.
  • Submit the Payment Request Form in BearBuy.
  • If any additional documentation needs to be attached after submission of the Payment Request, please attach to the voucher.
  • NOTE: If creating and submitting payment using any BearBuy form other than a Payment Request Form, please do the following:
    1. Note in the internal notes section of the PO that payment should be made by wire.
    2. If possible, also note payment should be made by wire on the invoice.
    3. Email the invoice to ucinvoice@berkeley.edu.
    4. Email the Foreign Bank Authorization form to apbankforms@berkeleyedu.

4. View the status

  • The status of a wire transfer can be viewed in BearBuy under the Approvals tab. It takes approximately 3-4 business days for Payment Request Review. Some payments may be subject to additional tax review or travel reimbursement review. Additionally, it takes 1-5 business days for the bank to release funds after the final wire approval (US Dollar wires are next day, Foreign Currency wires take longer).

PRIVACY WARNING: Do NOT scan and attach the Foreign Bank Authorization Form, or documents containing ANY confidential information, to a Payment Request Form in BearBuy. See Data Privacy requirement for protecting restricted information