Wire Transfer Best Practices


This guidance is to help properly process wire transfers. Avoiding common errors and set up missteps can avoid delays and ensure timely deposit of funds in the recipient’s account. 

Recipient information

Payments Canada indicates that your financial institution or desktop wire program needs the following information about the recipient:

  • name as spelled on the account

Note:  Although there is a reference to taking the recipient’s name from their cheque, financial institutions advise that the recipient should confirm that the name on their cheque is IDENTICAL to the name registered on their account with their bank.

  • address
  • financial institution information, including:
    • account number where the funds are going (excluding spaces and special characters)
    • branch name and address (including postal code)
    • branch's routing information (3-digit Canadian financial institution number and 5-digit branch transit number)
  • financial institution's SWIFT Business Identifier Code if available
  • amount of the payment
  • value date (YY/MM/DD format)
  • who will be paying the service fees (you, the beneficiary or both parties)

See Payments Canada Consumer Guide on Wire Payment

Routing information

If the recipient gives you the routing information, you can verify the information for most Canadian financial institutions in the Financial Institutions Branch Directory.

SWIFT Business Identifier Codes (BICs) identify financial institutions and provide payment routing information in a standardized format that is recognized worldwide. BICs are also called SWIFT codes, since they are used by the SWIFT system for international wire transfers. BIC/SWIFT codes are available free of charge on the SWIFT website.

See Appendix A: Incoming Wire Payments and Customer Tips (TD) 

How your wire payment will travel

The recipient's financial institution will receive the wire payment message via the LYNX system (formerly the Large Value Transfer System (LVTS)). They will use the information in the payment message to deposit the payment in the recipient's account. Often, this happens in near real-time. The payment is final once it is in the recipient's account, and the recipient can use the funds immediately.

What time of day can I request a wire payment, and how fast will my branch send it?

Each financial institution has its own opening and cut-off times for customer wire payments. You can also ask how soon after your request they'll be able to send your wire payment.

Service Level Agreements

Financial institutions are reluctant to provide a definite time when lawyers can expect that wires are processed, and funds delivered into the recipient’s account. All transactions are subject to anti-money laundering (AML) safeguards, but excluding these measures, your financial institution should be able to indicate to you when you can anticipate funds are sent from or received into your account.

Here are some best practices suggested by financial institutions:

Top issues and errors that delay the recipient receiving the funds into their account:

  • Not providing the identical name of the recipient’s account as noted with the financial institution.
  • Adding additional information like the names of the parties to the transaction, which can trigger an AML review.

Payment Confirmation Reference Number (PCRN)

Our payment systems in Canada presently work on the trust principle. The financial institutions trust the money will be settled and so immediately provide you with a credit for the amount, subject to it being confirmed or reversed. 

How can you ensure you have “good” funds that can be used immediately?  The Lynx channel of payments provides irrevocable money, the problem is that we do not know what channel was used to get the funds to your account.  

How can you confirm you received money via the Lynx channel, which is irrevocable, and that you can use immediately without fear of it being reversed?

Payments Canada has set up the Lynx channel to issue a PCRN, which is a unique number for that transaction. The PCRN can be seen by the sender of a wire once the transaction is concluded and is (or should be) part of the wire confirmation printout or screenshot that is sent to the receiving lawyer. The receiving financial institution gets the PCRN but does not always automatically make it available to the receiving lawyer. Lawyers receiving funds should contact their financial institution to ask for the PCRN for all wires that are settled to their accounts. Receiving lawyers can then match the PCRN sent by the sending lawyer and their financial institution and confirm that they have good irrevocable funds.

Some law firms have developed a form to ensure they get the proper information from their client or the recipient of any wire payment. Attached is a sample format developed by a firm that you can use for your purposes. See Appendix B: Sample Wire Payment Information Form.

Discharge of Mortgage via Wire Payment

Financial institutions suggested best practices when paying a mortgage by a wire payment:

  • Lawyers must provide the financial institution with:
  1. Wire Confirmation
  2. Payout Statement
  3. Payout and discharge instruction

It might not be possible or advisable to include these documents with the wire, so they should be emailed to the responsible contact at the financial institution.

  • All solicitors should ensure they have proper contacts on file at the remitting financial institution in the event there is a need to get in touch with them to obtain any information required to address any scanning hits (e.g., fraud prevention, daily processing limits related exceptions) and minimize potential delays.

Caution with wires - Call before you Click

Before sending any wire, lawyers should call the recipient to confirm their banking details to avoid being a victim of an email funds diversion scam. Likewise, lawyers should warn their clients to call before sending a wire.  

Please advise the CBA Real Property Section at cbarealproperty@cba.org of any issues you are having with wires so we may table them at our meeting with the Canadian Bankers Association.


  1. Incoming Wire Payments and Customer Tips (TD)
  2. Sample Wire Payment Information Form
  3. Wire Payment Reference Table