Home International Bank Transfer What is a bank code?

What is a bank code?

In this guide we will outline the meaning of a bank code, what they are used for and the various types of codes that are used by banks and other financial institutions around the world.

Updated: 27/01/2022
Read time: 3 minutes
Compare Rates
 
   
Spain
EUR
GBP
£

What is a bank code?

A bank code is an umbrella term used to describe alphanumeric codes that identify financial institutions. Sometimes bank codes are used domestically to reference banks located within the same country, while other bank codes are used to ID financial institutions abroad. 

The rules that distinguish different types of bank codes will be determined by the central bank or governing body which has issued the code. This means the format, length and appearance of a bank code will differ from country to country, and no two bank codes will ever be the same.

Watch out for this common mistake

The term “bank code” is sometimes misappropriated by merchants and vendors, who use it in reference to the security code on a credit or debit card. The correct name for this (typically 3-digit) is a Card Security Code or CSC.

Common types of bank codes

What is a SWIFT code?

SWIFT codes are used by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network to identify a bank’s location, country, and branch number when processing an international money order. A SWIFT code will be 8 to 11 characters long and can be located on bank statements, in your online banking or by contacting your bank directly.

Icon sending money abroad

What is a BIC code?

BIC code is a term interchangeable with SWIFT code as they both describe exactly the same thing. Like SWIFT codes, BIC codes are required when transferring funds internationally to an overseas bank account. This type of code is used by financial service providers, as a way of identifying exactly where your money needs to be sent to.

bank wire transfer graphic

What is a clearing code?

A clearing code – clearing number or National Clearing Code (NCC) – is called for when you are sending money to a bank account that does not have an International Bank Account Number (IBAN). This type of bank code also goes by another name: Routing Number. Typically, a clearing code will not be needed if you have SWIFT/BIC code or an IBAN and are generally used for payments outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Live and work in UK expat houses

What is an IBAN?

An IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number and this is a code made up of no more than 34 letters and numbers. IBANs are used as a unique identifier for bank accounts when sending and receiving international payments. IBANs are used by banks all around the world to pinpoint the country, bank, and bank account that funds should be deposited to when moving money across borders.

wire transfer phone icons

What is a sort code?

Sort codes are used by British and Irish banks to identify the location of a domestic bank, so that financial institutions can recognise where the payment has originated from or validate where it is being sent to. Also known as sorting codes, or a national sort code (NSC) in Ireland, these codes can be found integrated into an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) but they have no relation to SWIFT or BIC codes.

Swift codes for banking graphic

Related content

What is an IBAN calculator?
In this guide we will be running through what exactly an IBAN calculator is and how they come in useful for those who need to make an international money transfer but may not have all the required bank account details.
What is an IBAN decoder?
What is an IBAN decoder? An IBAN decoder is an umbrella term that is given to the various online tools and resources which help customers decode, identify and validate banking information in order to find the correct International Bank Account Number needed for overseas money transfers.  IBANs consist of a two digit country code, two […]
What is an IBAN validator?
In this guide we will be introducing you to an invaluable tool: the IBAN validator. Similar in functionality to an IBAN checker, this online resource will come in handy whenever you need to double check the details of your international bank transfer.
April Summers

April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.

Companies
All Services