What Does in Transit Mean? Why Payments Delay + Solutions

In this article, we’re answering “What does in transit mean?”

This will include an explanation of why a transfer may be in transit, information on how to search for a payment that has not arrived, and answer to common questions on the topic.

This article is part of our free series on how to send money online which you can access by clicking this link.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. What Does in Transit Mean?
  2. Can I Track My Deposit When It Is in Transit?
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

What Does in Transit Mean?

In banking, “in transit” means that a payment has been sent by the sender but not yet received by the receiver. This can be due to delayed clearing or settlement, compliance concerns, or sending a transfer outside of banking hours.

How Long Are Funds in Transit?

How long funds are normally in transit will depend on where the funds are originating and arriving. For example, an interbank transfer via ACH (Automated Clearing House) to financial institutions in the same country can be completed on the same day. On the other hand, international transfers to two banks in different countries via SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) can take between three and five days to arrive.

Why Does a Deposit in Transit Take Long?

Why a deposit in transit can take a long time ultimately depends on a number of factors. These factors include the parties involved in the transfer, the purpose of the transfer, the banks sending and receiving the transfer, and even the countries where the transfer is being sent to and from.

These factors all influence how long it takes for a deposit to arrive in different ways. Here’s a look at each in more detail.

Parties Sending and Receiving the Transfer

The individuals sending and receiving a transfer influence how long it takes for a deposit to arrive. In fact, if a deposit is in transit, it could mean that the banks are conducting due diligence on one of the parties in the transaction. If this happens, they either confirm information internally or request information directly from the parties.

Purpose of the Transfer

If the payment that is in transit is unusual in size, frequency, or in terms of the country that it is being sent to, banks are required to understand the purpose of the transfer and to confirm that it does not have anything to do with illicit activities. When this happens, it means that payment will remain in transit for longer. Or, at least until the bank can reasonably confirm the purpose of the payment.

Banks Sending and Receiving the Transfer

There are several ways that banks can influence the time it takes for transfers to arrive. For example, when a payment is in transit, it usually means that the bank has already sent the payment. However, it may not mean that the payment has been sent by the originating bank’s correspondent bank.

Additionally, it may not have been received by the receiving bank’s correspondent. In other words, there are many financial institutions that can be involved in a simple transaction, which can mean that even when payments are in transit it can still take a while to arrive.

Countries Where the Money is Originating and Arriving

Not surprisingly, international transfers take longer to arrive than domestic transfers. However, different countries can take longer than others. For this reason, if you are sending or receiving funds to or from an obscure jurisdiction, it’s possible that it can further delay the transfer longer than a normal international transfer.

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Can I Track My Deposit When It Is in Transit?

Yes, you can track your deposit when it is in transit. But, the method you use to track a deposit ultimately depends on how the deposit was sent. That said, in many instances, it is not necessary to track a deposit when the transfer is sent within the same country. This is because funds are typically deposited before a trace finishes. This is especially true since banks in the same country have limited issues sending payments to one another. For example, they use the same transfer information and the same interbank network, meaning there is limited space for error.

Options for Tracking My Deposit

Your options for tracking a deposit will typically include a search by the sending bank. For example, sending banks can initiate a SWIFT Trace on your behalf. However, it’s important to note that a SWIFT Trace can come with high fees, up to USD 100 to track a single transfer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people looking into what in transit means. If you have further questions you would like to ask our team, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How Long Does My Payment Stay in Transit?

How long a payment stays in transit will ultimately depend on the reason why it has been delayed. Funds can be delayed for a wide range of reasons, including delays in clearing via ACH or SWIFT, confirmation delays by the sending or receiving bank, or other remittance issues that can arise.

That said, if a payment has remained “in transit” for more than 72 hours during regular banking days, it is usually advised to contact the sending bank to ensure that the transfer was sent. If it was sent, the receiving bank should then be contacted to ensure the transfer was received.

What Are Examples of a Deposit in Transit?

Examples of why a deposit is in transfer instead of already arriving include the sender or receiver being required to provide additional information related to the transfer. Alternatively, if a transfer was sent outside of normal banking hours, it will remain in transit until banking hours resume. Likewise, if the transfer is international and payments are required to cross borders, it can take significantly longer due to delays in the SWIFT network.

Does In Transit Mean It Will Be Delivered Today?

No, “in transit” does not mean that a transfer will be delivered today. Instead, it means that the payment is still in the settlement process and has not finished clearing. This can happen for a number of reasons, including delays due to bank holidays, compliance, or waiting for the sender of the transfer to provide supporting documentation.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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