Sort Code vs IBAN: What is the difference?
The best way to clearly distinguish the differences between these two banking terms is by explaining exactly what they are used for:
Sort codes are used to identify banks during a domestic transfer: when sending money from one bank account in the UK or Ireland to another bank account in the UK or Ireland
IBANs are used to identify banks during an international transfer: when sending money from a bank account in one country to a bank account in another country
Exclusively used by British and Irish banks, sort codes are used as a way of verifying the identification of domestic financial institutions. Any customers with a bank account in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, will be assigned a sort code, along with an account number (known as a domestic account number when dealing with international transactions.)
IBAN, or International Bank Account Number is another kind of standardised identification code, but unlike sort codes, IBANs are globally compatible. This means, when sending funds to Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East or parts of Africa, customers may be asked to provide the IBAN of their recipient. As its name suggests, an IBAN consists of unique information which helps banks identify the unique international bank account number during a cross-border transaction, therefore eradicating erroneous payments.Compare Transfer Rates
What does an IBAN number look like?
The format and structure of an IBAN differs from country to country; but it will never be more than 34 characters in length. For example, the format of a UK bank account holder would appear: GB33BUKB20201512345678
This format can be translated as follows:
The two digit country code (GB33BUKB20201512345678)
The two digit check numbers (GB33BUKB20201512345678)
The four digit bank code (GB33BUKB20201512345678)
The six digit sort code of the bank branch (GB33BUKB20201512345678)
8 digit code of the bank account number (GB33BUKB20201512345678)
What does a sort code look like?
Sort codes are made up of 6 numbers, divided into 3 pairs, typically with dashes between each digit. For example, the format of a UK sort code may appear as: 12-34-56 / 123456
This format can be translated as follows:
The two digit bank code
The following four digits identify the specific bank branch where the account was opened
How do you use an IBAN to find a sort code?
Now we have decoded the information contained in an IBAN and sort code, it is easy to identify the sort code in an IBAN.
The six digit sort code of a bank branch in the UK or Ireland is represented by the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th digits of an IBAN. We will use the earlier example to illustrate this:
GB33BUKB20201512345678: The sort code for this bank account is 202015
To double check this information is correct, you can ask the recipient to check their online banking account, debit or credit card, or bank statements, where they will find the sort code stated clearly.
We hope this guide to finding a sort code from an IBAN will prove useful for our readers, whether they are arranging a one-off money transfer or a mass international payments. If you want to learn more about any of the topics mentioned in this article, why not check out our full list of money transfer guides here. If you have gained all the necessary information and now feel ready to make your money transfer, check out our Top 10 Money Transfer Companies list to find out the best service provider for you.
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