What is an IBAN?

IBAN is the acronym for International Bank Account Number.

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The IBAN number is an internationally recognised standard used for processing payment transactions, both across borders and domestic. It identifies the payment account of the customer, as well as that of the financial institution which provides the service. 

Originally, IBAN was designed as a solution to integrate payments within the European Union and European Economic Area. It is now officially supported by 86 countries, including all EU/EEA countries and Switzerland. In 2022, this standard was partially introduced In 26 other countries.

How To Find Your IBAN number

  • Check your mobile banking app to find your bank account number and IBAN. 
  • Some bank statements will contain your IBAN.
  • Find the codes and account number on your bank's website or by asking your branch directly. 
  • Find an online IBAN calculator to get the alphanumeric characters specific to your country.
  • You can also go to the SWIFT website to find the IBAN for each country. 

IBAN Examples

The IBAN structure is defined in ISO 13616-1 and consists of a two-letter country code, followed by two check digits and up to thirty alphanumeric characters for a BBAN (Basic Bank Account Number). The latter has a fixed length per country and within it a bank identifier with a fixed position and length per country.

Data element Description - Pattern - Example
Name of country United Kingdom
IBAN prefix country code (ISO 3166) GB
Country code includes other countries/territories IM, JE, GG
SEPA country Yes
SEPA country also includes N/A
IBAN*
IBAN structure GB2!n4!a6!n8!n
IBAN length 22
Effective date Apr-07
IBAN electronic format example GB29NWBK60161331926819
IBAN print format example GB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19

Importance of IBAN

Cross-border money transfers using the IBAN system is recognised by other major countries where the standard is not implemented such as Canada and the USA. The registration authority for the IBAN ISO standard is SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications network. Like the SWIFT code, IBAN was created by worldwide financial system participants for financial messages and transactions.

How Does an IBAN Work?

IBAN enables financial institutions to join international and national payment systems, allowing them to help customers send or receive money transfers domestically and internationally. This capability is particularly useful in managing international transfers. 

When using IBAN for SWIFT payments, there is no requirement for the payment service provider to be established in a specific country, simplifying the process for customers to receive an international transfer.

IBAN vs BBAN

  • BBAN (Basic Bank Account Number): This identifier uniquely identifies an individual account at a specific financial institution within a particular country. It includes the bank identifier of the financial institution servicing the account.
  • IBAN (International Bank Account Number): This is the expanded version of BBAN, designed for international use. It also uniquely identifies an individual account at a specific financial institution in a specific country, extending the BBAN for global transactions.

IBAN vs BIC (Business Identifier Code)

The business identifier code (BIC) is the standard specifying the elements and structure of a universal identifier code. International banks use BIC for transferring money with each other–addressing messages, routing business transactions and identifying business parties. 

The BIC is used for financial and non-financial institutions, where such an international identifier is required to facilitate automated processing of information. 

There are two types of BICs: Connected BICs with access to the Swift network and non-connected BICs with no access and used for reference purposes only. It is not to be confused with bank identifier code, sometimes referred to as the SWIFT code. 

IBAN in a Nutshell

  • IBAN is important for identifying bank accounts and streamlines both international and national payments, offering an effective alternative to traditional banking methods.
  • By adopting IBAN, particularly for SWIFT transactions, banks can reduce costs in their money transferring processes.
  • The use of IBAN allows banks to remain competitive with the rise of Banking-as-a-Service and fintech innovations in the worldwide interbank financial telecommunication sector.
  • However, concerns about the extensive use of customer data and challenges for non-banking entities in accessing certain payment systems, like designated payment systems, are notable.

IBAN FAQs

What is an IBAN number?

  • IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It is the ISO 13616 international standard for numbering bank accounts. In 2006, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) designated SWIFT as the Registration Authority for ISO 13616.

What is the IBAN used for?

  • The IBAN facilitates the communication and processing of cross-border transactions. It allows exchanging account identification details in a machine-readable form.

What is a bank identifier?

  • The identifier that uniquely identifies the financial institution and, when appropriate, the branch of that financial institution servicing an account

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The IBAN number is an internationally recognised standard used for processing payment transactions, both across borders and domestic. It identifies the payment account of the customer, as well as that of the financial institution which provides the service. 

Originally, IBAN was designed as a solution to integrate payments within the European Union and European Economic Area. It is now officially supported by 86 countries, including all EU/EEA countries and Switzerland. In 2022, this standard was partially introduced In 26 other countries.

How To Find Your IBAN number

  • Check your mobile banking app to find your bank account number and IBAN. 
  • Some bank statements will contain your IBAN.
  • Find the codes and account number on your bank's website or by asking your branch directly. 
  • Find an online IBAN calculator to get the alphanumeric characters specific to your country.
  • You can also go to the SWIFT website to find the IBAN for each country. 

IBAN Examples

The IBAN structure is defined in ISO 13616-1 and consists of a two-letter country code, followed by two check digits and up to thirty alphanumeric characters for a BBAN (Basic Bank Account Number). The latter has a fixed length per country and within it a bank identifier with a fixed position and length per country.

Data element Description - Pattern - Example
Name of country United Kingdom
IBAN prefix country code (ISO 3166) GB
Country code includes other countries/territories IM, JE, GG
SEPA country Yes
SEPA country also includes N/A
IBAN*
IBAN structure GB2!n4!a6!n8!n
IBAN length 22
Effective date Apr-07
IBAN electronic format example GB29NWBK60161331926819
IBAN print format example GB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19

Importance of IBAN

Cross-border money transfers using the IBAN system is recognised by other major countries where the standard is not implemented such as Canada and the USA. The registration authority for the IBAN ISO standard is SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications network. Like the SWIFT code, IBAN was created by worldwide financial system participants for financial messages and transactions.

How Does an IBAN Work?

IBAN enables financial institutions to join international and national payment systems, allowing them to help customers send or receive money transfers domestically and internationally. This capability is particularly useful in managing international transfers. 

When using IBAN for SWIFT payments, there is no requirement for the payment service provider to be established in a specific country, simplifying the process for customers to receive an international transfer.

IBAN vs BBAN

  • BBAN (Basic Bank Account Number): This identifier uniquely identifies an individual account at a specific financial institution within a particular country. It includes the bank identifier of the financial institution servicing the account.
  • IBAN (International Bank Account Number): This is the expanded version of BBAN, designed for international use. It also uniquely identifies an individual account at a specific financial institution in a specific country, extending the BBAN for global transactions.

IBAN vs BIC (Business Identifier Code)

The business identifier code (BIC) is the standard specifying the elements and structure of a universal identifier code. International banks use BIC for transferring money with each other–addressing messages, routing business transactions and identifying business parties. 

The BIC is used for financial and non-financial institutions, where such an international identifier is required to facilitate automated processing of information. 

There are two types of BICs: Connected BICs with access to the Swift network and non-connected BICs with no access and used for reference purposes only. It is not to be confused with bank identifier code, sometimes referred to as the SWIFT code. 

IBAN in a Nutshell

  • IBAN is important for identifying bank accounts and streamlines both international and national payments, offering an effective alternative to traditional banking methods.
  • By adopting IBAN, particularly for SWIFT transactions, banks can reduce costs in their money transferring processes.
  • The use of IBAN allows banks to remain competitive with the rise of Banking-as-a-Service and fintech innovations in the worldwide interbank financial telecommunication sector.
  • However, concerns about the extensive use of customer data and challenges for non-banking entities in accessing certain payment systems, like designated payment systems, are notable.

IBAN FAQs

What is an IBAN number?

  • IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It is the ISO 13616 international standard for numbering bank accounts. In 2006, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) designated SWIFT as the Registration Authority for ISO 13616.

What is the IBAN used for?

  • The IBAN facilitates the communication and processing of cross-border transactions. It allows exchanging account identification details in a machine-readable form.

What is a bank identifier?

  • The identifier that uniquely identifies the financial institution and, when appropriate, the branch of that financial institution servicing an account

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