What is the difference between transfer and transmit ; E.g Anyone who transports, transfers, transmits or receives illegal money commits an offense.

  • 1
    These are all Latin words, and were formed in Latin before they were borrowed (at different times, for different purposes) into English. But the original etymologies are still useful. Trans- means 'across, between', and sets up a motion frame from A to B. The verbs are portare 'carry', ferre 'bear, carry', and mittere 'send'. So transport and transfer both imply completion from A to B. But transmit only applies to A, where the sending happens; nothing is implied about B. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:09
  • In legalese it's quite common to list a bunch of synonyms for some activity/concept, so a bad guy can't say "I wasn't transporting the stolen mercendise, I was transmitting it", and claim some finely-drawn definition of "transport" that seems to let him off the hook.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 16:46
  • Did you check a dictionary?
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 17:37
  • I checked in Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus (online version) transfer move from one place to another "transfer the data" "transmit the news" "transfer the patient to another hospital"
    – mykey
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 17:45

5 Answers 5


Let's consider how the money gets from point A to point B.

If you transport the money, you are carrying it, perhaps in a briefcase or duffel bag. You have cash in hand.

transport: to carry, move, or convey from one place to another.

If you transfer the money, you are probably using a paper check or wiring money through your bank. You're probably using your pen or phone to convey the money (with no cash in hand), although transfer does not exclude a briefcase.

transfer: to convey or remove from one place, person, etc., to another

If you transmit the money, then you are probably making a wire transfer or paying by check or money order. The briefcase is not in the picture. There is no cash in hand.

transmit: to send or forward, as to a recipient or destination; dispatch; convey.


Forgetting money for a moment:

Transfer implies both transmission and reception. It is the process of moving something from A to B successfully.

Transmit implies sending something away without necessarily knowing where it will end up, e.g. Television transmission.

Receive is the complement of transmit.

Thus, in your example of money laundering:
A person transmits money by giving it to a courier, who in turn transfers it to a person who is a receiver.

Of course, the transfer can take the form of physical cash being transported. While an electronic transfer has no physical transport.

  • Transfer is TCP but Transmit is UDP :))
    – Parsa
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 16:18

When writing legal documents, lawyers have to anticipate loopholes. In this case they are making sure that they cover both physical transfer of funds and those performed by transmitting information over electronic media. It is better in legal terms to be exhaustive and even redundant than to allow some cases to slip through the net.


According to Collins:


verb (trænsˈfɜː ) , -fers -ferring or -ferred

1) to change or go or cause to change or go from one thing, person, or point to another" ⇒ ■ they transferred from the Park Hotel to the Imperial", " ⇒ ■ she transferred her affections to her dog"
2) to change (buses, trains, etc)
3) (law) to make over (property, etc) to another; convey
4) to displace (a drawing, design, etc) from one surface to another
(of a football player, esp a professional) to change clubs or (of a club, manager, etc) to sell or release (a player) to another club
5) to leave one school, college, etc, and enrol at another to change (the meaning of a word, etc), esp by metaphorical extension


verb (trænsˈpɔːt ) (transitive)

1) to carry or cause to go from one place to another, esp over some distance

So, if both you and me had an account at the same bank, you could transfer me funds without actually transporting anything. As chasly says, redacting it like this avoids loopholes

  • My interest was usage of transfer vs. transmit @SamuelVimes
    – mykey
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 13:04

From Criminal Finance:The Political Economy of Money Laundering in a Comparative, by Kris Hinterseer:

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