Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas
If you need to get money to a destitute U.S. citizen outside the United States, you have a number of available options.
Banks, Credit Card Companies, and Money Transfer Companies
- Contact the individual’s bank and arrange to add funds to the person’s account.
- Contact the individual’s credit card company to ask for a temporary credit limit increase.
- Arrange for immediate replacement of a lost/stolen credit card. Express delivery may take 2-3 business days.
- Identify a commercial money transfer company that operates in/near the city where the individual is located. There are money transfer cost comparison tools online to help you identify your best option. NOTE: The individual must typically present identification to collect funds; this channel may not be an option if identification is lost or stolen.
Department of State: As a last resort, the Department of State may be able to help transfer funds through our office in Washington, D.C. to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The U.S. citizen who is abroad should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to inquire about eligibility requirements and additional details. The Department of State charges a $30 processing fee to set up an account and transfer funds overseas per fiscal year (October 1 – September 30). If your account remains open and in use for an additional fiscal year or is transferred to another overseas consular district then an additional $30 fee must be assessed. When sending money for the first time, please be sure to add $30 for the State Department's processing and account set-up fee to the amount you intend to send the recipient.
The best and quickest way to send money to the Department of State is by Western Union. The other two options are by express courier service or U.S. mail and can take from several days to several weeks. When sending funds, you must include your name, address, and telephone number, and the destitute individual’s full name and location (city and country) on the check. We transfer funds daily during normal business hours (Monday – Friday 8AM – 5PM EST) and process funds arriving after-hours during the next business day.
Western Union: Be aware that some U.S. states place restrictions on the use of Quick Collect by phone or the Internet. Western Union can inform you which states have such restrictions. NOTE: Western Union will charge you a money transfer fee based on the dollar amount you are sending. Ask about their fee structure. Their fee is separate from and in addition to the $30 processing fee that the Department of State must charge to set up an account for the transfer of funds overseas.
There are three ways to send money to the Department of State by Western Union:
(1) Call Western Union's Quick Collect service at 1-800-238-5772 if you have a MasterCard or Visa credit card you can use. Western Union has a limit on the amount of money you can transmit by credit card within a seven-day period. You may need to use a second credit card to send money exceeding the initial limit within a particular seven-day period.
- The "code city" for the Department of State is "OVERSEASEMERGENCY DC."
- The "pay to" name is "Department of State, Overseas Citizens Services (OCS)."
- List your telephone number as the account number.
- Ask the operator to add the name and location (city and country) of the U.S. citizen recipient in the "reference" field.
- Remember to add the Department of State's $30 processing and set-up fee to the total amount you intend to send if this is the first time you are using this service for this overseas particular location, or a new fiscal year. Federal fiscal years begin on October 1 and end September 30.
(2) Internet: If you have a MasterCard or Visa credit card, visit Western Union’s website or call 1-800-238-5772 for processing instructions. Be sure to inform the agent that you are sending funds “Quick Collect”.
(3) In Person Cash Payments: If you want to pay for a Quick Collect transaction using cash, you can visit any Western Union location in person. This is usually the least expensive Western Union option.
- Call 1-800-325-6000 to find the Western Union location nearest you.
- Request and complete a blue payment form.
- Make the payment payable to the "U.S. Department of State, Overseas Citizens Services (OCS)."
- Include your name and telephone number and the full name and location (city and country) of the U.S. citizen recipient on the form.
- If applicable, include the $30 first-time processing and set-up fee to the total amount of money you intend to send.
Express Courier Service or U.S. Postal Service mail. NOTE: Express courier service delivery may take 3-4 days to reach our office. U.S. Postal Service mail may take 3-4 weeks because of the Department of State’s internal mail-screening security procedures. We do not recommend these methods for emergencies or other urgent situations.
We accept cashier’s checks or money orders only.
Make the check or money order payable to "Department of State, Overseas Citizens Services (OCS)" for the required amount plus the $30 processing fee.
Send the check or money order, along with any instructions, to:
U.S. Department of State
Overseas Citizens Services, SA-17 (10th Floor)
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
- Include the full name and location (city and country) of the U.S. citizen recipient.
- Include your full name, address, and telephone number.
Bank Wire Transfer: Not currently available.
Learn About Your Destination
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: Do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Do not leave unattended luggage in public areas or accept packages from strangers.