November 20, 2001

Re: Issues Concerning Remote Issuance of Money Orders

Dear Mr. ________:

This is in response to your letter of October 3, 2001. Your letter requests our opinion as to whether the printing of a money order at a location in California remote from its point of sale in California constitutes the receipt by ________ of money for transmission abroad such as to require ________ to be licensed under the Transmitters Law. ________ is licensed in California to engage in the business of issuing payment instruments.

For the reasons stated herein, we conclude that ________ is not required to obtain a license under the Transmitters Law.


From your letter, we understand that ________ currently offers the following service to its customers. ________ sells money orders itself directly or through its affiliated agents ________, ________, and ________. ________ and ________ also provide courier services to Mexico and Guatemala whereby instead of the customer taking possession of the money order, ________ and ________ deliver the money orders to the intended recipients in Mexico and Guatemala.

Your letter proposes to offer the following new service to your customers:

“1.The customer wishing to send a money order(s) to Mexico (same procedure for Guatemala) would pay our agent in cash for the desired amount of money order(s) plus the delivery fee and the money order fee. In lieu of printing the money order at the agent’s office, the agent would provide the customer with a receipt evidencing: the amount of each specific money order to be issued, the name and address of the purchaser of the money order(s), the name and address of the payee, the date of transaction, and the requisite language, clearly stating that the funds are received in trust by the agent of [________] for [________] for the purchase and issuance of the described [________] money orders to be delivered by Mexico Express’ expedited courier service to the designated payee of the subject money orders at the designated address.

2.The [________] agent will then transmit electronically the necessary information to the central [________] money order printing location in California (La Mirada) so that the money order(s) will be printed on the same day and delivered to ________ the same day for overnight delivery to the ________ distribution service provider in Mexico for immediate delivery to the payee. Upon receipt of the money order(s) by the payee, the payee will sign the delivery receipt evidencing the specific money order(s) being delivered and the signed receipt by payee will be returned by mail to the purchaser of the money order(s). The ________ delivery process would be the same as is currently being provided.

This process would expedite the delivery of the [________] money orders from the various agent locations in California to the central processing site in Los Angeles and would eliminate the transportation difficulties which may exist in California. Upon obtaining the comparable requisite transmitter licenses in the other states (already available in Texas) this same process would be utilized to likewise eliminate similar transportation difficulties in the other states.”

You have also indicated that the form of money order would be exactly the same form of money currently used by ________ in California, with the same payable through U.S. bank and in U.S. dollar denomination. The only differences would be that: (a) the payee’s name would be printed in accordance with the purchaser’s instruction at the time the money order is printed remotely; and (b) “_______” would be printed as the purchaser in accordance with the purchaser’s instructions.


The Transmitters Law governs persons who are engaged in the business of receiving money in California for transmission. For the purposes of the Transmitters Law, “receiving money for transmission” means receiving money for the purpose of transmitting the same or its equivalent to foreign countries. In interpreting a statute, the words of the statute are to be given their ordinary, everyday meaning unless the statute itself specifically defines those words. If the meaning is without ambiguity, then the language controls. Halbert’s Lumber, Inc. v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 6 Cal. App. 4th 1233 (1992). “Transmission” means something that is sent or caused to go from one person or place to another. Webster’s New World Dictionary 1421 (Third College Edition 1988). Based on that definition, the proposed activities of ________ in accepting money in California for the purpose of ________ sending its equivalent in the form of a money order to foreign countries would appear to constitute receiving money for transmission within the meaning of this part of the definition.

However, the Transmitters Law generally excludes from its coverage the selling of any check, draft, money order, travelers check, or other instrument (whether or not negotiable) for the transmission or payment of money, but specifically includes the sale, either directly or indirectly through an agent, of any check or draft which: (1) is drawn by the seller; (2) is drawn on, or is payable through or at, an office of a bank located in a foreign country; (3) is denominated in a foreign currency; and (4) is not designated on its face by the term “money order” or “travelers check” or by any substantially similar term. If all of the circumstances (1), (2), (3), and (4) above do not exist with respect to a check or draft, then the general exclusion would apply, and the sale of such check or draft would be excluded from the provisions of the Transmitters Law.

As described in your letter, ________ would be issuing a money order, the form of which has heretofore been approved. This money order is designated on its face “money order.” In addition, the money order is denominated in U.S. currency, and is payable through a U. S. bank. Accordingly, the sale of the money order would be exempt from the Transmitters Law. The fact that the money order would be printed out in a remote location in California does not change this conclusion. Also, this conclusion is consistent with the Payment Instruments Law. The definition of payment instrument contained in Financial Code section 33059(a)(1) indicates that the Legislature contemplated that payment instruments could serve as a means of transmitting money.


For the reasons discussed above, it is our view that the sale of money orders in California which will be printed out from a remote location in California and couriered to recipients in Mexico and Guatemala is not subject to regulation under the Transmitters Law. However, such activities of ________ remain subject to the Payment Instruments Law.

This Department administers, among other laws, the Transmitters Law and the Payment Instruments Law. We express no opinion as to any law, state or federal, other than those laws. Furthermore, this response is limited to the facts and circumstances set forth above. Should any of the facts or circumstances change, our response might be different.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, please feel free to call me at (916) 322-5983.

Very truly yours,

Commissioner of Financial Institutions


Senior Counsel


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Last updated: Jun 27, 2019 @ 2:26 pm