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Last updated: 31st August, 2020


What is an IBAN code?

Your IBAN code questions answered: what is an IBAN code? Where to find it and how it works

When you’re sending money abroad, you may need an IBAN code to ensure a successful transaction. Here you can find out everything you need to know about the IBAN code, what it’s for and how to use it.

So what is an IBAN code?

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It’s basically a way of standardising your bank account number, so it can be easily interpreted by banks across the world. This way, financial transactions taking place across country borders can be processed in a simpler fashion, reducing the risk of errors.

How did IBAN codes come about?

Prior to the introduction of IBANs in 1997, different countries used many different formats to identify bank accounts. This naturally led to confusion and vital information being missed on payment requests. The IBAN was designed to simplify and standardise these formats, producing an internationally recognisable code. The UK began using the IBAN system in 2001.

Where can I find my IBAN code?

Your IBAN should be clearly visible on your bank statement, whether it’s online or a paper statement.

What different parts make up the IBAN code?

An IBAN consists of up to 34 characters – these will either be 0-9 or A-Z. No other characters are permissible. Let’s take a look at a standard British code and break it down into its constituent parts:

The first two characters are the country code – in this case, GB for Great Britain. The two following numbers are what’s known as ‘check digits’, which computer systems can use to detect human input errors in the rest of the code. We then have a four-character bank code. For Santander UK, it’s ‘ABBY’, corresponding to the code of Abbey National before Santander acquired it.

Following this are the full UK bank account details: six digits for the sort code and eight digits for the account number. After the first eight characters, there will be a variable number of digits depending on the number of digits used in the bank account format of the country in question. It’s important to remember that when you input the IBAN, you must not include any spaces between the different parts of the code – it should be a continuous string of letters and numbers.

How long does an IBAN transfer take?

Most domestic wire transfers will take place within 24 hours, but unfortunately, the times do tend to fluctuate when you’re sending money abroad. However, one thing is for certain: fail to fill in the details correctly and your payment will be delayed, possibly by weeks. Your bank will have to come back to you to verify the details, and then you’ll join the back of the payment queue again. As a rule, if everything is completed correctly, the transfer should be finalised in between two and five working days.

Is an IBAN code the same as a SWIFT code?

No. Whereas the IBAN code identifies the specific bank account relating to the transaction, the SWIFT code (or BIC code) simply identifies the banks involved in processing the transaction.

Do all countries use/accept the IBAN system?

No, not all countries use or accept the IBAN system. All countries in the European Union use it, as well as most other European countries. It’s not used in the USA or Canada, for example, although they do recognise the system and will process payments according to it. It can’t do any harm to include the correct code if you’re sending money from a country that uses the system.

Some examples of IBAN numbers:

Austria IBAN number: AT483200000012345864
Belgium IBAN number: BE71096123456769
Denmark IBAN number: DK9520000123456789
France IBAN number: FR7630006000011234567890189
Ireland IBAN number: IE64IRCE92050112345678
Italy IBAN number: IT60X0542811101000000123456
Poland IBAN number: PL10105000997603123456789123
Spain IBAN number: ES7921000813610123456789
United Arab Emirates IBAN number: AE460090000000123456789

What are the codes for some of the biggest banks?

We’ve included a few codes below for some of the biggest banks worldwide. These include the country code, check digits and bank code; remember that you’ll also need to add the corresponding sort code and account number after this. Although the check digits are specific to the IBAN, you’ll find that the country code and bank code are exactly the same as those contained in the corresponding SWIFT/BIC code.

Barclays: GB 29 BUKB
Santander UK: GB 29 ABBY
Deutsche Bank: DE 89 DEUT
Narodowy Bank Polski: PL 00 NBPL

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