International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) were first implemented by the European Central Bank (ECB) to provide a simpler way of transferring money to other countries. Now used around the world, IBANs have become a permanent fixture in the banking world and a vital component of international money transfers.
In this article, we cover what an IBAN number is, what it looks like, the difference between IBAN and swift codes, and lastly, where to find yours.
What is an IBAN number?
Short for International Bank Account Number, IBANs are unique account numbers assigned to an account for the purpose of making international money transfers easier. An IBAN number acts as a screening system that confirms account data before transferring funds between international banks.
The system was implemented to create an international standard for transnational transactions and reduce errors within the EU but has since been adopted by countries far beyond those borders. Since being implemented international money transfer errors have been reduced to 0.1% of total transfers.
What does an IBAN number look like?
An IBAN number is an alphanumeric code of up to 34 characters. Not to be mistaken for a bank account number, an IBAN typically includes the account number along with several other identifying codes. These include codes that identify the bank the funds are being sent to and the country. So what does an IBAN number look like?
An International Bank Account Number will always include:
- A two-letter code identifying the country
- Two check digits
- The bank code
- A code of up to 30 characters is known as the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN) which is decided on by the country and is used as a national standard for domestic payments.
For example, a UK IBAN number will have the following format:
GB represents the country code
28 represents the check digits
VBCD represents the bank code
123456 represents the sort code
And the next 12345678 represents the account number.
SWIFT codes vs IBAN numbers
You might be wondering at this stage what the difference is between a SWIFT code and an IBAN number. Let’s explore the difference below.
A SWIFT code (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), also known as a Bank Identifier Code (BIC), is a unique identification bank code used to identify the specific financial institution in international wire transfers. SWIFT codes consist of either 8 or 11 characters and include information about the bank and its location.
An IBAN (International Bank Account Number), on the other hand, is a standardized international numbering system used to identify bank accounts for international money transfers. As covered above, it typically consists of a country code, two check digits, and a BBAN. The purpose of the IBAN number is to help ensure that international payments are processed accurately and efficiently.
In summary, a SWIFT code is used to identify a specific bank or financial institution in international wire transfers. An IBAN number is used to identify a specific bank account in cross-border transactions.
Both codes are important for international money transfer and are used in conjunction with each other to ensure that funds are transferred to the correct account at the correct institution.
How to find your IBAN number
To find your IBAN number, you will need to check your bank statements, online banking portal, or contact your bank directly. The exact process for finding your IBAN number may vary depending on the country and financial institution, but here are some general steps you can follow:
Check your bank statement: Your IBAN number should be listed on your bank account statement, which you can access online or receive in the mail.
Check your online banking portal: If you use online banking, you can usually find your IBAN number by logging into your account and navigating to your account details or settings.
Contact your bank: If you cannot find your IBAN number through the above methods, you can contact your bank directly and ask them to provide it for you. Be prepared to provide your account number and other identifying information.
It's important to note that not all countries use an IBAN number, so if you are sending or receiving an international payment, you may need to use a different format for bank account identification.
Additionally, IBAN numbers can vary in length and format depending on the country and financial institution. Before you transfer money or make an international transaction always check what information is required and whether it is accurately inputted.
Tap’s business account and IBANs
When creating a business account on the Tap network, users will automatically gain access to their own IBAN number which can be used to receive international payments. With several currency options, the account caters to a wide range of industries and services.
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