how to send money from Dubai to California?
February 10, 2010 8:13 AM   Subscribe

How to wire money from Dubai to California? And more importantly - possible legal implications?

My best friend wants to send me $1000 so that I can buy a plane ticket to come visit him in Dubai this summer.

He is originally from Iran and has been living in Dubai for 5 years now, after a 3-year stay in the U.S. I am a born-and-raised American, if that matters.

What is the best (i.e., cheapest, easiest, most hassle-free) way to do this? Western Union?

My friend says he needs a SWIFT code. I googled this, and Navy Federal Credit Union (my bank) does not have a SWIFT code. Any way around this?

I don't know much about this type of transaction, but my friend seems somewhat concerned about the possibility that I will get called into some FBI office (or similar) and be interrogated as to the reasons I would be recieving funds from the middle east.

With this in mind, are there any tips you can give me to make things as smooth as possible as far as the whole "funds from the Middle East" thing is concerned?

Thank you for your help, everyone!

(And please let me know if I should provide more info in order to help answer my questions.)
posted by gcat to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Maybe I'm being stupid, but can't your friend just buy the plane ticket himself? The name on the credit card and the name on the ticket don't usually have to match, and it seems like it would be a lot easier for all concerned.
posted by coppermoss at 8:16 AM on February 10, 2010

coppermoss, im sorry i dont know the details, but i do know thats what he was going to do a couple years ago, and for whatever reason, it proved to be a huge hassle (or maybe even not possible?) for him to buy me the ticket himself. i cant really say why, but it was definitely an issue.
posted by gcat at 8:21 AM on February 10, 2010

Every clearing bank has a SWIFT or BIC code afaik. Ring them and ask them for your IBAN. If you have one of those then ask again for the SWIFT code.

Or use Money Bookers.
posted by devnull at 8:44 AM on February 10, 2010

I doubt a single $1000 transaction is going to make the US government assume you're a terrorist.
posted by gadha at 8:47 AM on February 10, 2010

What about using PayPal?
posted by chiefthe at 8:58 AM on February 10, 2010

I can vouch for the fact that at least up to several hundred dollars wired to you from Dubai will not get you arrested or interrogated.
posted by wrok at 9:05 AM on February 10, 2010

SWIFT is just another routing code used everywhere except the US I think. US banks use an ABA code, best thing to do is call up your bank, ask them the same question you asked us and they can give you the routing info.
posted by arcticseal at 9:06 AM on February 10, 2010

haha oops, i didnt mean *actually* getting called in, just some bureaucratic equivalent. i was just wondering if it triggers any annoying red tape, and if this could be avoided.

thanks for the help with the terminology, everyone!
posted by gcat at 10:16 AM on February 10, 2010

It looks like Navy Federal can send international wires so there's a good chance they can receive them as well. Perhaps they have a partner bank that handles it. Definitely worth talking to them about, though beware that not all American bank employees are knowledgeable about international wire transfers. And if your local branch doesn't know about transfers from Dubai, perhaps the branch in Bahrain would? (Assuming they take calls from US customers.)
posted by serathen at 10:17 AM on February 10, 2010

You don't specify in your post whether you can front the 1k yourself...if so why not just buy the ticket on your own and have him reimburse you?
posted by Elminster24 at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2010

Western Union, MoneyGram, Xoom, bank to bank wire transfer...there are many ways to send money overseas. He can even send you a personal check but the bank usually holds it for a month or more until it clears. The simplest way is probably Western Union or a bank transfer but both charge fees to do this.
posted by MsKim at 12:02 PM on February 10, 2010

Call your bank.

Better yet, have your friend contact an international travel agent in Dubai. Have that person make the reservations for you, by being in contact with both of you. Then he can pay him/her directly.

Or, use a travel agent in the US, who will certainly know how to get the money wired from Dubai.

This really shouldn't be a problem for you politically.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:49 PM on February 10, 2010

IANAL, but the fact that your friend is from Iran may pose a legal problem in receiving money from him.
posted by dabug at 9:48 AM on February 11, 2010

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