IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It identifies an individual account, at a specific financial institution, in a particular country and is used to process financial transactions between institutions in different countries. Used correctly, the IBAN facilitates faster payment processing.
Refer to the IBAN registry (PDF) for a list of countries that require IBANs and each country’s unique IBAN format. SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is the official IBAN registrar.
The IBAN model creates a standard for account numbering among multiple countries. The model requires certain components to be present in all IBANs, but also allows for some flexibility for country-specific requirements. By adding components to existing account numbers, the IBAN improves a bank’s ability to process cross-border payments without having to manually repair transactions or replace existing account numbers. If you do not use the IBAN in countries that require its use, your payments might be returned without processing.
An IBAN consists of up to 34 alphanumeric characters, which include the following:
- Country code – the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) country code
- Check digits – two check digits provided by the issuing financial institution based on a calculation that takes into account the entire IBAN
- Bank identifier – code that identifies the financial institution and, when appropriate, the branch of that financial institution servicing an account
- Basic bank account number (BBAN) – code that identifies an individual account, at a specific financial institution, in a particular country
Sample IBAN Format
|Country Code||Check Digits||Bank Identifier||Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN)|
Refer to the IBAN registry (PDF) for a list of countries that require IBANs and each country’s unique IBAN format.
When preparing your transaction:
- Insert the IBAN in the account number field on any forms or screens used to create the payment
- Do not use both the account number and the IBAN. Remitters sometimes mistakenly insert the account number in the account number field and the IBAN in the bank-to-bank reference field or the OBI (Originating Beneficiary
- Information) field. Doing so will cause the payment to stop for repair at the beneficiary bank, negating the purpose of the IBAN. Instead, simply place the IBAN, which includes the account number, in the account number field.
- Include both the beneficiary’s IBAN and SWIFT BIC when making international payments destined for countries that participate in the IBAN registry (see “SWIFT BIC” section below).
SWIFT BICs (business identifier codes), which are often called SWIFT codes, are a series of either eight or 11 alphanumeric characters that help to identify a specific financial institution. The number includes a bank code, a country code, a location code, and an optional branch code.
|Bank Code||Country Code||Location Code||Branch Code|
|PNBP||GB||2L||XXX (Represents the head office location)|
Including an IBAN and a SWIFT BIC in wire instructions potentially will keep your wire fees lower because financial institutions in the beneficiary’s country may choose to either charge an additional fee for, or return, wires that do not include these numbers.