What is IBAN & how to find it? (2024)

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IBAN numbers, also known as International Bank Account Numbers, are a standardized format of bank account numbers used in many countries around the world. IBANs are used to facilitate international money transfers and help to ensure that the funds are sent to the correct recipient.

While the United States and Canada do not use the IBAN system, they recognize its use in other countries and are able to process payments accordingly. It’s important to note that some countries require the use of an IBAN for international money transfers, so if you are sending or receiving money from abroad, it’s essential to know whether an IBAN is needed and how to obtain the correct number.

What is an International Bank Account Number (IBAN)?

An International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a unique numbering system used to identify individual bank accounts involved in international transactions. It consists of a series of alphanumeric characters that include a two-digit country code, two numbers, and additional characters that uniquely identify the bank account. The IBAN was developed by banks in Europe as a way to simplify transactions involving bank accounts from other countries.

It’s important to note that the IBAN does not replace a bank’s own account numbering system, but rather provides additional information to help identify overseas payments. In addition to identifying the individual bank account involved in the transaction, the IBAN also acts as a method of verifying that the transaction details are correct.

Another type of international identification system used for international transactions is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) code. However, unlike IBANs, SWIFT codes are used to identify a specific bank during an international transaction.

How International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) work

International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) are used to identify bank accounts in an internationally recognized format. The IBAN is a unique identifier that consists of a two-letter country code, two check digits, and up to thirty-five alphanumeric characters. The alphanumeric characters are known as the basic bank account number (BBAN), which varies in length according to the banking association of each country. The first two letters of an IBAN represent the country code, followed by a two-digit checksum and then the bank and account number.

When sending money across borders, the IBAN number is used to ensure that the funds are transferred to the correct bank account. The IBAN is especially useful in cases where the sender and receiver of the funds are located in different countries and have different banking systems. By using the IBAN, banks can easily process international transfers and ensure that the money reaches the intended recipient.

Each country that uses the IBAN system has its own unique BBAN format. For example, the BBAN for a bank account in Albania may differ from the BBAN for a bank account in Norway. However, the IBAN itself remains a standard format that can be recognized and processed by banks worldwide. Here are some examples:

  • Cyprus: CY 17 002 00128 0000001200527600
  • Luxembourg: LU 28 001 9400644750000
  • Kuwait: KW81CBKU0000000000001234560101

IBAN example

An IBAN is comprised of up to 34 alphanumeric characters and contains four main components:

  • Country code: The first two letters of an IBAN represent the country code of the account’s home country. For example, the IBAN for a bank account in the United Kingdom will start with “GB”.
  • Check digits: The next two digits of an IBAN are the check digits. These are calculated using a specific algorithm and help ensure that the IBAN is valid and accurate.
  • Bank identifier: This is a code that identifies the financial institution where the account is held. It may also include a specific branch of the bank if necessary. In the UK, the bank identifier is the six-digit sort code.
  • Basic bank account number (BBAN): This is a code that identifies an individual account at a specific financial institution in a specific country. The BBAN varies in length depending on the country and financial institution, but is usually up to 30 characters long.

Here is an example of an IBAN for a bank account in the UK: GB82WEST12345698765432

In this example, “GB” represents the country code for the UK, “82” is the check digits, “WEST” is the bank identifier for the bank Westpac, and “12345698765432” is the BBAN for the specific account at that bank.

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IBAN vs. SWIFT codes

The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) code are both used as standardized methods for identifying bank accounts in international transactions.

The primary difference between IBAN and SWIFT codes is what they identify. An IBAN is a unique identifier assigned to an individual bank account involved in an international transaction, while a SWIFT code is used to identify a specific bank during an international transaction.

The SWIFT system was created before attempts to standardize international banking transactions through IBAN. As a result, the SWIFT system is still widely used for international fund transfers. One reason for this is that the SWIFT messaging system allows banks to share a large amount of financial data, including the account status, debit and credit amounts, and details related to the money transfer.

Banks may use a Bank Identifier Code (BIC) instead of a SWIFT code, but the two are interchangeable. Both IBAN and SWIFT/BIC codes are alphanumeric codes that contain a mix of letters and numbers and are usually between eight and 11 characters in length. These standardized codes play a vital role in facilitating international financial transactions and promoting global commerce.

Requirements for International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN)

The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) was created as a solution to the problem of inconsistent national standards for bank account identification. Prior to the IBAN, different countries used varying alphanumeric forms to represent banks, branches, routing codes, and account numbers, which often led to errors in payment processing.

To address this issue, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published ISO 13616:1997 in 1997, which established a universal format for the IBAN. The European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS) also published a smaller version, which limited the IBAN to only uppercase letters and a fixed length for each country.

In 2003, the ISO updated the IBAN standard with ISO 13616:2003, which replaced the original ECBS version. A subsequent update in 2007 stipulated that IBAN elements should be designed to facilitate the processing of data internationally, across different financial and non-financial industries.

However, the standard does not specify any internal procedures or techniques for handling IBAN data, such as file organization or storage media. The focus is solely on ensuring that the IBAN is formatted consistently across different countries to enable accurate payment processing.

Who uses an IBAN?

IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, was initially created to simplify electronic payments between banks across the Eurozone. Over time, the use of IBAN has expanded globally, but not all banks and regions have adopted this standard. In such cases, alternative systems such as SWIFT are still used.

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It’s worth noting that North American, Australian, and Asian countries typically do not use IBAN for domestic money transfers. Instead, they only use it when sending payments to a country that has adopted IBAN. So, if you’re based in one of these regions and sending money within your own country, you might not need to use IBAN. However, if you’re making an international payment to a country that uses IBAN, you will likely need to provide an IBAN for the recipient’s bank account.

Why was IBAN created?

IBAN was created to simplify and standardize international transactions, particularly cross-border payments. Prior to the introduction of IBAN, banks had their own unique numbering systems for identifying accounts, which made it difficult to ensure that the correct account was being credited or debited during a transaction.

This often resulted in errors, such as payments being rejected or delayed, which could be costly for both the sender and receiver of the payment due to associated bank charges and fees. Additionally, the lack of a standardized system made it difficult to verify account information, which increased the risk of fraudulent activity.

To address these issues, IBAN was developed as a standardized format for identifying bank accounts across different countries. It consists of a country code, two check digits, and the basic bank account number (BBAN), which includes the bank code and account number. By using a consistent format, IBAN helps to reduce errors and improve the verification of cross-border payments, which ultimately benefits both individuals and businesses engaging in international transactions.

What does an IBAN number look like?

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number and is a standardized way to identify bank accounts across countries. As you mentioned, an IBAN number can contain up to 34 alphanumeric characters, which may seem like a lot compared to other types of bank account numbers. However, each character in the IBAN serves a specific purpose in identifying the bank and account.

The first two characters of an IBAN are always the country code, which indicates the country where the account is held. This is followed by two check digits, which are used to help ensure that the IBAN is valid and has not been entered incorrectly.

The remaining characters in the IBAN make up the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN). This portion of the IBAN will vary in format from country to country, but generally includes a bank code and branch code to identify the specific bank and branch where the account is held. The BBAN may also include other account-specific details, such as an account number or routing code.

Here’s an example of what an IBAN number might look like for an account in Germany: DE89 3704 0044 0532 0130 00

In this example, “DE” is the country code for Germany, “89” are the check digits, and the remaining characters make up the BBAN for the account.

How can I get an IBAN?

If you are a customer of a bank in an IBAN region, you can typically request an IBAN by contacting your bank directly.

When you request an IBAN, your bank will provide you with a unique alphanumeric code that identifies your bank account. This code contains information about the country, bank, branch, and account number, and is required when receiving international payments.

It’s important to note that an IBAN is used only for receiving payments and is not used when making withdrawals. So, if you need to make a withdrawal, you’ll need to use your bank’s regular account number and routing information.

Which banks use IBAN numbers?

IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a standardized bank account numbering system that is used internationally. However, its use varies depending on the country and region.

In general, IBANs are primarily used by banks in Europe and some Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey and Israel. Banks in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and China do not typically use IBAN codes. Instead, they use other systems such as routing numbers and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) codes.

The responsibility for generating an IBAN falls on the bank or branch that services the account, as designated by the ECBS (European Committee for Banking Standards). This ensures that the IBAN is accurate and valid for international transactions.

It is important to note that even if a bank in a particular country does not use IBANs, they may still require other information for international transactions, such as a bank identifier code (BIC) or a routing number. It is always best to check with your bank to ensure you have the correct information for international transactions.

What is the IBAN registry?

The IBAN registry is a database that contains information about countries that follow the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in the ISO 13616 standard. This registry is published by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) and includes the specific IBAN format used by each country.

The IBAN registry provides important information about the IBAN format for each country, including its structure and any specific requirements or restrictions that apply. This registry is updated regularly to reflect any changes to the IBAN standards or country-specific requirements.

In addition to the IBAN format details, the registry also includes information on the history of updates made to each country’s IBAN format and a glossary of key terms used in IBAN transactions. Overall, the IBAN registry serves as a valuable resource for anyone involved in international financial transactions, ensuring that they have accurate and up-to-date information on the IBAN standards for each country.

Is IBAN number used in the USA?

IBAN numbers are not commonly used in the USA. They are primarily used for sending money to a foreign bank account that participates in the International Bank Account Number System. Within the United States, banks typically use ABA routing numbers for domestic transfers and SWIFT codes for international transfers. So while IBAN numbers may be used for sending money to a foreign bank account, US banks do not use the IBAN number for domestic transactions.

What Is the difference between IBAN and SEPA?

SEPA is a payment network that operates within the European Union and a few other countries outside the EU. It provides digital transfers in Euros between bank accounts in 28 European countries. The SEPA system is overseen by the European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS) and sets forth the national standards for business identifier codes.

While both IBAN and SEPA are used for digital money transfers, they serve different purposes. IBAN is used to identify bank accounts for international transfers, regardless of the currency being transferred, whereas SEPA is a payment network that only supports transfers in Euros within the designated countries.

Is it safe to give out an IBAN number?

When it comes to sharing your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) with others, it is generally safe to do so. The reason for this is that your IBAN is essentially just a unique identifier for your bank account, and it does not contain any sensitive personal information such as your name, address, or social security number.

In fact, sharing your IBAN is often necessary in order to receive payments from others, such as when you are conducting international transactions or receiving direct deposits from your employer. However, it is important to ensure that you are sharing your IBAN with reputable and trustworthy individuals or organizations, as there is always a risk of fraud or identity theft when sharing any financial information online.

Is a SWIFT code the same as a routing number?

A routing number is a nine-digit code used to identify banks in the United States. It is used for domestic transactions, such as direct deposits, wire transfers, and electronic payments. Routing numbers are specific to individual banks and are assigned by the Federal Reserve System.

While both a SWIFT code and a routing number are used to identify financial institutions, a SWIFT code is used for international transactions, and routing numbers are used for domestic transactions in the United States.

Should I use BIC or IBAN?

When making international transactions, you may need to provide both the IBAN and BIC code. The IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a unique identifier for your individual account, while the BIC (Bank Identifier Code) is a code that identifies the specific bank where your account is held.

The bottom line

An IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a standardized format for bank account numbers used during international financial transactions. IBANs are primarily used in 82 countries around the world, and they help to reduce errors and issues that can arise during international money transfers.

If your country doesn’t use IBANs, it may use another system like SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to facilitate international transfers. These systems are specifically designed to make cross-border transactions smoother and more efficient.