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What is an IBAN Number? With Examples & How It Works

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IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number.  It is an international numbering system used for identifying bank accounts when sending international transfers.

IBAN numbers consist of a two-letter country code, two check digits, and up to 30 characters for the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN)

You can find your IBAN by checking your bank statement, logging into your online banking portal, or contacting your bank directly.

The US and Canada don’t use IBAN. However, they recognize the system and process payments with IBAN.

What Is an IBAN Number?

An International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an international numbering system used to facilitate information in relation to cross-border payments.

An IBAN number contains a two-letter country identification code, two check digits, and up to 30 characters for the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN). Each country decides the BBAN format to cater to its national standard for bank accounts.

Originally, the IBAN was designed for bank transfers between European Union countries. However, it has now been adopted by over 80 countries worldwide. While the United States and Canada do not use IBAN numbers, they still recognize the system and process IBAN payments for international transactions.

The Format of an IBAN Number

The IBAN number is a series of up to 34 characters, including letters and numbers.

It is not the same as the bank account number.

It includes the bank account number, plus some more characters that identify the country and bank you’re sending money to.

The IBAN number contains:

  • Two-letter country identification code
  • Two check digits
  • Up to 30 characters for the Basic Bank Account Number (known as BBAN). Each country decides the BBAN format to cater to its national standard for domestic payments.

Below are the examples of what an IBAN number looks like.

Example of an IBAN Number

The French IBAN Number Format

French IBAN Code Format

The UK IBAN Number Format

Format of UK bank code

As mentioned, each country has its own BBAN format. Therefore, the length of the IBAN number varies from country to country. Although the UK IBAN number consists of 22 characters, it contains all the necessary details to ensure your international transfers arrive safely.

Why Do I Need an IBAN Number?

An IBAN is required when you make a cross-border payment, and the bank of your beneficiary is located in a country participating in the IBAN system. When making international payments, you must provide the recipient’s IBAN number, name, and address to ensure your funds will be wire-transferred to the intended bank account.

📌 Note: When instructing the payment, it must be entered in the field reserved for the beneficiary’s account number, without spaces.

Where to Find Your IBAN Number

Here are tips to help you find your IBAN number.

  1. Check your bank statement: Your IBAN number is usually printed on your bank statement, along with your account number and sort code.
  2. Check your online banking: Log in to your online banking account and navigate to the account information section. Your IBAN number should be listed there.
  3. Contact your bank: If you are unable to find your IBAN number using the above methods, contact your bank's customer service. They will be able to provide you with the information you need.

Be sure to check your IBAN number when making an international or telegraphic transfer. In case you only have part of your beneficiary’s IBAN, you may want to find out the missing pieces by using an IBAN calculator. We have tried this tool multiple times, and it was reliable in providing the correct IBAN number.

Moreover, you can use an IBAN checker to help you flag any potential errors, as the beneficiaries may not update their payment details on the website.

By following these simple steps, you can easily find your IBAN and ensure smooth international money transfers.

What Happens if You Use the Wrong IBAN Number?

If you enter an incorrect IBAN number, your international transaction will be rejected. To retrieve the funds, your bank will charge an additional fee and take time to process. Therefore, your payments will be further delayed. Ultimately, the error can cause damage to your business. Hence, it’s important to double-check the IBAN before making any transactions.


BIC (Bank Identifier Codes) or SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) codes and IBAN numbers are internationally acknowledged banking standards used to facilitate cross-border payments.

Function Pinpoint an individual account within a bank in a specific country

Needed for transferring funds to countries participating in the IBAN system.
Identify the specific bank or financial institution involved in a transaction.

Needed for routing international transactions.
Origination To standardize international bank account identification inside the EU. Established before IBAN to standardize international banking transfers. Today, it remains the largest international payment system.
Format Up to 34 alphanumeric characters, varying by country. 8 or 11 alphanumeric characters, standardized globally.
Issuance Issued by individual banks according to a country-specific IBAN structure. Assigned by SWIFT as a centralized organization.

Despite their differences, these two systems actually complement each other. When sending an international transaction to a country that is part of the IBAN system, proper routing of the transfer will be subject to providing the correct BIC/SWIFT code and IBAN in the payment details.

💡 Did You Know? When it comes to international payments, BIC and SWIFT codes are used interchangeably.

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What is the IBAN number?

The IBAN number, or International Bank Account Number, is an international numbering system used for identifying bank accounts when transferring international transactions

What is the format of an IBAN number?


How do I find my IBAN number?


What is the purpose of an IBAN number in international transfers?


Which countries use IBAN?


How long does an international money transfer take?

Reviewed by
Saranthip Saetang

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