Complete Guide to IBAN Numbers

IBAN 101: Everything You Need to Know About International Bank Account Numbers

Wiring money abroad? Before you can receive or make international payments, you’ll need an IBAN first. IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number, a unique code assigned to an individual bank account involved in overseas transactions to help banks process transfers around the globe.

Before IBAN, national standards for identifying bank accounts differ and don’t require a specific format for international transactions, often leading to confusion. Routing information was also limited - without check digits, errors were difficult to detect, making it impossible for sending banks to validate vital information before submitting payments. As a result, payments were delayed, incurring additional charges to both sending and receiving banks.

To address routing difficulties, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published ISO 13616:1997, which was originally adopted by the European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS) and was since revised. IBAN became required across the EU in 2014.

Today, the IBAN numbering system is an international standard under ISO 13616:2007, imposing a flexible but fixed format that is sufficient for account identification and validation, making it easier for banks to:

  • Locate bank accounts involved in international transactions
  • Determine the integrity of the bank account receiving funds
  • Prevent the risk of transcription errors
  • Reduce the costs of international wire transfers, especially in countries that are members of SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area)

So far, the IBAN system has successfully reduced trans-national wire transfer errors to under 0.1%.

IBAN vs. SWIFT Code

An IBAN should not be confused with the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code. Both internationally recognized and standardized codes serve the same purpose of helping banks route wire transfers correctly, but the difference between IBAN and SWIFT lies on the specific information they identify.

During an international transaction, a SWIFT Code is used to identify the specific bank or financial institute involved, while an IBAN number is used to identify the individual bank account. In other words, a SWIFT code is a global bank ID.

The SWIFT system predates the IBAN, and remains a useful method in processing international banking transactions. It’s estimated that around 40,000 banks and offices worldwide participate in the SWIFT system, including U.S. banks.

  • SWIFT Code Structure:

A SWIFT code is shorter than an IBAN, and can be 8 to 11 alphanumeric characters long, containing the following information:

  • A four-letter bank code
  • A two-letter country code
  • A two-digit location code, either in numbers or letters
  • A two- to three-digit branch code, either in numbers or letters

If you find an “XXX” at the end of a SWIFT code, it represents a head office.

  • IBAN Code Structure:

The total length of an IBAN varies by country. Generally, it begins with two standardized letters, followed by a series of 14-30 numbers. The entire code can take up to 35 alphanumeric characters, with each set representing specific details of your bank account that are vital to the transaction. The breakdown is as follows:

  • A two-letter country code using ISO 3166-1 alpha-2
  • A two-digit transaction or check number
  • A four-letter bank code
  • A six-digit bank sort code
  • A unique number of variable length specifying the individual bank account

Take note that an IBAN code doesn’t replace your account number. Rather, it’s meant to provide additional information so banks can verify transaction details more accurately.

How to Find Your IBAN

It’s crucial that you use the right IBAN when making an international money transfer across national borders, whether you’re the sender or recipient. If you get an IBAN wrong, the bank may either:

  • Send the money to the wrong destination
  • Charge the sender for an invalid payment

It’s also important to note that an IBAN with the right format doesn’t guarantee validity and correctness. You should always verify an IBAN before proceeding with your transaction. Here’s how to find your IBAN code:

  1. Contact your bank
  2. The easiest way to know your IBAN is to call your bank. Provide your name and account number, and they should be able to give you the requested information.

    • Look at your bank statement

    Some banks publish your IBAN on your bank statement. Generally, your IBAN is located on the top or bottom right corner of the paper copy. A printed copy of an IBAN shows the code being separated in groups of four characters, with a space in between. For example, a UK IBAN format may look like this: GB98 MIDL 0700 9312 3432 10.

    It’s important to note that an IBAN should not contain spaces when transmitted electronically.

    • Check your banking app

    Some banking apps display your IBAN code when you log into your account. Check with your bank to see if their app has an IBAN feature.

    • Use an online IBAN generator

    There are online IBAN calculators available which can convert a bank account number to an IBAN. Simply enter your bank’s code and your account number.

    If you’re sending money through wire transfer to someone overseas, you can verify the accuracy of your recipient’s IBAN by calling the recipient’s bank and asking them to validate the given IBAN.

    IBAN Countries

    Not all countries require an IBAN. The U.S.A. and Canada are among the major countries that don’t use the IBAN system. However, they do recognize the IBAN system and process overseas payments accordingly. If you’re sending money from the U.S. to another country, you may still need an IBAN number to complete a transaction.

    For quick reference, here’s a list of IBAN countries and their respective two-letter country codes:

    • Albania - AL
    • Algeria - DZ
    • Andorra - AD
    • Angola - AO
    • Austria - AT
    • Azerbaijan - AZ
    • Bahrain - BH
    • Belarus - BY
    • Belgium - BE
    • Benin - BJ
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina - BA
    • Brazil - BR
    • British Virgin Islands - VG
    • Bulgaria - BG
    • Burkina Faso - BF
    • Burundi - BI
    • Cameroon - CM
    • Cape Verde - CV
    • Central African Republic - FR
    • Congo - CG
    • Costa Rica - CR
    • Croatia - HR
    • Cyprus - CY
    • Czech Republic - CZ
    • Denmark - DK
    • Dominican Republic - DO
    • Egypt - EG
    • Estonia - EE
    • Faroe Islands - FO
    • Finland - FI
    • France - FR
    • French Guiana - FR
    • French Polynesia - FR
    • Gabon - GA
    • Georgia - GE
    • Germany - DE
    • Gibraltar - GI
    • Greece - GR
    • Greenland - GL
    • Guadeloupe - FR
    • Guatemala - GT
    • Guernsey - GG
    • Hungary - HU
    • Iceland - IS
    • Iran - IR
    • Iraq - IQ
    • Ireland - IE
    • Isle of Man - IM
    • Israel - IL
    • Italy - IT
    • Ivory Coast - CI
    • Jersey - JE
    • Jordan - JO
    • Kazakhstan - KZ
    • Kosovo - XK
    • Kuwait - KW
    • Latvia - LV
    • Lebanon - LB
    • Liechtenstein - LI
    • Lithuania - LT
    • Luxembourg - LU
    • North Macedonia - MK
    • Madagascar - MG
    • Mali - ML
    • Malta - MT
    • Martinique - FR
    • Mauritania - MR
    • Mauritius - MU
    • Moldova - MD
    • Monaco - MC
    • Montenegro - ME
    • Mozambique - MZ
    • Netherlands - NL
    • New Caledonia - FR
    • Norway - NO
    • Pakistan - PK
    • Palestine, State of - PS
    • Poland - PL
    • Portugal - PT
    • Qatar - QA
    • Réunion - FR
    • Romania - RO
    • Saint Lucia - LC
    • Saint-Pierre and Miquelon - FR
    • San Marino - SM
    • Sao Tome and Principe - ST
    • Saudi Arabia - SA
    • Senegal - SN
    • Serbia - RS
    • Seychelles - SC
    • Slovakia - SK
    • Slovenia - SI
    • Spain - ES
    • Sweden - SE
    • Switzerland - CH
    • Timor-Leste - TL
    • Tunisia - TN
    • Turkey - TR
    • Ukraine - UA
    • United Arab Emirates - AE
    • United Kingdom - GB
    • Vatican City State/the Holy See - VA
    • Wallis and Futuna - FR

    You can also find a full list of IBAN code formats per country online. By ensuring you get the right IBAN number, you can have the peace of mind that your funds are properly settled and sent to the correct destination.

    At EU Paymentz, we offer global wire transfers online, including IBAN, SEPA, and SWIFT transfers to help you send money quickly, safely, and securely, whether you’re transferring funds domestically or internationally. We also provide offshore high risk payment processing, gaming solutions, Forex solutions, and Crypto solutions for your merchant account needs. For more information about our services contact us.

Comments are closed.