DEFINITION of 'Direct Transfer'

A transfer of assets from one type of tax-deferred retirement plan or account to another. Direct transfers are not considered to be distributions and are therefore not taxable as income or subject to any penalties for early distribution. This type of transfer is now usually done electronically, without a check being cut from one custodian to another.

BREAKING DOWN 'Direct Transfer'

Direct transfers can be effected by the account or plan owner by filling out the requisite paperwork. Most transfers take several days to complete, although this process is now generally faster in the electronic and computer age than in the past. Direct rollovers from qualified plans are a form of direct transfer.

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