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International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR)

The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and is observed on 16 June. The IDFR recognizes the more than 200 million migrant workers, women and men, who send money home to over 800 million family members. This day further highlights the great resilience of migrant workers in the face of economic insecurities, natural and climate related disasters and a global pandemic. The IDFR is now globally recognized and is a key initiative in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Objective 20), which urges the reduction of transfer costs and greater financial inclusion through remittances.

Remittances, or “cross-border person-to-person payments of relatively small value,” serve as a vital lifeline to the developing world. Individual remittances may be of ‘relatively small value,’ but collectively these flows are three times greater than global official development assistance. Remittances underwrite many basic household needs and support skills formation and opportunities through education and entrepreneurship. These resources prove transformational for both households and local communities, enabling many families to achieve their ‘own SDGs.’

Remittance flows have increased five-fold over the past twenty years, serving in a counter-cyclical capacity during economic downturns in recipient countries. COVID-19 has been a formidable test for global remittances. However, early forecasts of sharp declines greatly underestimated the resilience in remittances flows. A May 2021 report by the World Bank reveals a drop in remittances of only 1.6 per cent in 2020, to US$540 billion from US$548 in 2019.

The resilience of these flows is not surprising. Remittances are the financial side of the social contract that binds migrants to their families back home. While these inflows total in the billions, the number that matters the most to families is the average remittance of US$200-US$300 a month. 

Behavioural shifts among migrants and the diaspora over the past year have further bolstered the resilience of remittances. Changes include an increased use of savings to sustain remittances flows, greater utilization of formal sending channels and more migrants sending money home for the first time. Local currency depreciation in recipient countries and increased government support for formal migrants in host countries during the pandemic have also had an impact.  

One of the greatest catalysts for formal remittances during 2020 was the accelerated adoption of digital technology by the migrant workers and their families. Both online and mobile digitalization have buoyed remittance flows during this challenging period. Mobile remittances alone increased 65 per cent during 2020 to US$12.7 billion (GSMA, 2021).  This change was hastened by lockdowns and social distancing rules that spurred the move away from informal channels and the use of cash for senders and recipients. Digitalization is less costly than cash transfers and has reinforced the adoption of mobile money, thereby advancing the financial inclusion of migrants and their families.

The IDFR and the United Nations commends the determination and resilience of the human spirit as evidenced by migrant workers. Further, the UN calls for governments, the private sector, development organizations and the civil society to promote digital and financial solutions for remittances that foster greater social and economic resilience and inclusion.

For further information visit: www.FamilyRemittances.org and the IDFR webpage on the UN website.

IDFR Facts and figures

Facts and figures

  • Each year more than 200 million migrant workers in over 40 high-income countries send remittances to over 800 million relatives in more than 125 low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). 
  • Family remittances directly impact the lives of more than one billion people, or one out of every seven people on Earth.
  • Global remittances are three times greater than Official Development Assistance and surpass Foreign Direct Investment.
  • The full impact of COVID-19 on remittances flows remains to be seen. However, in 2020 officially recorded remittance flows to LMICs reached US$540 billion, or only 1.6 per cent below the US$548 billion seen in 2019.
  • More than half of remittances sent in 2020 went to rural areas where remittances ‘count the most’.
  • Mobile remittances increased by 65 per cent during 2020.
  • Beyond the aggregate data is the most important number of all— the US$200 or US$300 in average monthly remittances. Remittances reflect the financial ledger in the social contract that binds migrant workers with families back home. These flows contribute an average of 60 per cent of household income, enabling tens of millions of families to reach for their own individual SDGs.
  • 70 countries rely on remittances for more than four per cent of their GDP.

Related news

Related news

Lack of digital infrastructure risks leaving millions of rural families in poverty – IFAD makes urgent call on International Day of Family Remittances

June 2021 - NEWS
Despite a massive increase in migrants sending money home via digital transfers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of their rural family members struggle to access the mobile banking services which could help lift them out of poverty. The President IFAD today called for urgent investments in digital infrastructure and mobile services in developing countries to ensure rural families are not left behind.

Ugandan remittances decline but still are a lifeline for rural people

June 2021 - NEWS
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and job security for Ugandan migrant workers around the world has reduced the amount of money they are sending back home to their families. But remittances still provide crucial support for some of the world’s poorest people.

Remittance flows to Kenya defy the odds during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 2021 - NEWS
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wages and employment across the world, the Kenyan diaspora community continues to send money back home to their families.

Related stories

Related stories

11 reasons why remittances are important

June 2021 - STORY
Every year, on 16 June, the International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) is observed to raise further awareness on the abnegation and sacrifice of migrant workers, who support their families and communities of origin through the money they send back home, particularly in these times of crisis.

Helping remittances reach rural areas in Moldova

March 2021 - STORY
For some time now, it has been difficult to find well-paid work in Moldova. Most of the good jobs available are concentrated in the cities, resulting in significant migration out of the country’s rural areas.

Sending money home: ten reasons why remittances matter

June 2019 - STORY
The International Day of Family Remittances is observed every year on 16 June in recognition of the fundamental contribution of migrant workers to their families and communities back home and to the sustainable development of their countries of origin.

Related publications

Related publications

International Day of Family Remittances booklet 2019

June 2019
International Day of Family Remittances booklet for 2019

Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development 2018 – Official Report

February 2019
This report presents the highlights and key outcomes of the first country-led Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development, hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia in collaboration with IFAD and the World Bank Group.

International Day of Family Remittances Brochure - Endorsements in 2018

June 2018
On 12 June 2018, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the International Day of Family Remittances as a universally recognized observance. New partners and supporters from private and civil society sectors have endorsed the Day 2018.
Additional languages: Arabic, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese

RemitSCOPE - Remittance markets and opportunities Asia and the Pacific

May 2018
RemitSCOPE, a new website portal, is designed to provide data, analyses and remittancemarket1 profiles on individual countries or areas. In coordination with the Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development 2018, RemitSCOPE is being launched to provide market profiles for 50 countries or areas in the Asia and the Pacific region. The additional four regions will be included gradually: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Near East and the Caucasus. RemitSCOPE intends to address the fast-changing market realities in the remittance industry in order to help bring together the goals of remittance families, as clients, and the strategies of the private-sector service providers. RemitSCOPE is designed as a free, one-stop shop that is available to any organization or entity interested in accessing all relevant public information on remittances.

Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development 2017 – Official Report

February 2018
Remittances constitute a critical lifeline for around 1 billion people around the world. These vital flows of private money, sent by over 200 million international migrant workers, help families raise their living standards and contribute to improved health, education and housing.

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Guidelines on the use of the IDFR symbol Type: Guidelines, Policies and Strategies

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The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) Contacts

Contact us

For questions, please contact familyremittances@ifad.org