Home International Bank Transfer What Are Routing Numbers And How Do You Find Them?

What Are Routing Numbers And How Do You Find Them?

Routing numbers are used by banks to identify one another. Adopted for use in the United States in 1910, routing numbers are an essential part of financial transactions and necessary anytime you are looking to send or receive money. In this guide, we’ll cover exactly what routing numbers are, how to find them, and why you might need one.

Updated: 12/01/2022
Read time: 4 minutes
Compare Rates

What’s a routing number?

A routing number is a nine-digit code used to identify where are financial institution is within the United States. Routing numbers are also known as an ABA routing number, an RTN, or a routing transit number, and are often needed for sending money.

How are routing numbers used?

Routing numbers are essential for enabling banks to accurately send and receive funds by matching the correct financial institution to the right financial transaction. 

Routing numbers may be required for a number of reasons. You should have your routing number handy if you are:

  • Transferring money internationally
  • Making a payment online or via the phone
  • Making a recurring automatic payment
  • Starting a direct deposit
  • Processing checks

What’s the difference between a routing number and an account number?

Routing numbers and account numbers are both equally important elements when sending and receiving money. A routing number is used to identify the specific bank any payment, cheque, or transaction needs to be sent to. Account numbers, on the other hand, are used to specify the actual account a transaction needs to be sent to/from. 

You will often need to provide both numbers for any transaction to or from a bank account.

What’s the difference between routing numbers, SWIFT codes, and IBANs?

A routing number is used to identify financial institutions, such as banks, located within the UK. This nine-digit code is important if you are arranging a transfer via ACH or a wire transfer to another bank within the US.

A SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code, on the other hand, is more often used for international financial transactions. SWIFT codes are made up of either eight or 11 characters that allow banks to identify the country, location, bank, and (in most cases) branch for a foreign transaction.

Equally, IBAN codes are also more commonly used for international transfers. IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers) are codes made up of 34 characters and used to identify a specific bank account and the bank and country it belongs to. 

What information do you need for a money transfer?

What code you will need for your money transfer depends on whether you are sending money domestically or internationally, as well as whether you are using a bank or a money transfer operator to send money. In any case, your sending provider should clearly explain what details you need.

Why might you need to know your routing number?

Your routing number is a set of characters unique to your bank’s location, and is necessary to ensure your money reaches it’s destination accurately and safely.

Where to find your routing number

Your routing number is an essential piece of information that you will need to provide if you are sending a payment or receiving money from someone else. You can find your routing number in the following ways:

  • Visit your bank’s website
  • Find your routing number via your online banking account
  • Telephone your bank or visit your local branch
  • Use a routing number generator online
  • Look on a personal cheque (should be printed on the bottom) or at a bank statement

Sending money safely

The information you are asked for when sending money to friends and family is all used to ensure your money arrives at its destination safely, securely, and without delay. Security is only one component of an effective money transfer however – cost, speed, and payment options being just a few additional consideration to take into account.

Our transparent comparison engine helps you find the best way to send money for your specific transfer needs, to start here if you need to send money abroad.

Related content

Fastest Ways to Send Money
With online banking making accessing your money as instant as sending a text, you’d be forgiven for assuming transferring your money abroad from a bank account would be just as quick. However, transfer speeds can vary depending on a number of factors – and you bank account might not be the best option to send […]
British Expats in the United States
This helpful guide shares what British expats living in the United States need to know about sending money. It will help you learn about getting the best FX rates, reduce transfer times, and get quick processing speeds. We also share a few of the top money transfer services for sending money from the UK to the US.
Cheapest Way to Send Money to Africa
In this guide we will provide an overview of the best way to send money to Africa, without incurring huge fees associated with traditional bank transfers. To make things as easy as possible for our readers, we will outline the factors contributing to the main costs, as we offer examples of the top money transfer services for sending money to countries in the African continent. 
Yasmin Purnell

Yasmin Purnell is a Content Writer and Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. Having over 5 years’ experience writing across a range of industries including finance, insurance, and travel, Yasmin joined the team with a mission to make international money transfers and everything they encompass accessible to all.

All Services