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How to make international IBAN payments

Knowing your recipient’s IBAN will streamline the international transfer process and reduce the likelihood of errors or delays. As a globally accessible system, IBAN numbers are incredibly useful, and have become a standardised method for identifying banking and financial institutions. This is a how-to guide for anyone making an overseas payment using an IBAN.

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United Kingdom

About IBANs

IBAN is an acronym which stands for International Bank Account Number, a standardised system used to identify bank accounts across Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa. At present, 82 countries use IBANs; for some it is mandatory, while for others it is simply recommended.

An IBAN identifies a bank account using a country code (based on the ISO standard 13616); two check digits; then information containing the domestic bank account number, branch identifier, or routing number. Each country implements its own unique IBAN structure, examples of which can be found here. No matter the format or structure, an IBAN will be made up of a maximum of 34 alphanumeric characters.

Find out which countries use the IBAN system

How to use an IBAN to make an international payment

Depending on the country you and your recipient are both based in, different forms of banking information will be required alongside an IBAN.

For example, if you are sending money between two European countries within the SEPA zone, the following information will be required:

  • The full name of your recipient

  • The recipient’s IBAN number

  • The recipient’s BIC/SWIFT code

What is a BIC/SWIFT code?

Once you have gathered the necessary account information for your recipient, you will need to choose a provider with whom you trust to move your funds safely from one country to another.

To make things easier, we recommend users check out the MoneyTransfers comparison tool on our homepage. This free resource helps customers gauge which company can offer the best service for their cross-border payment needs. Users may also find our company comparison guides helpful, if they are struggling to choose between two leading providers.

Although in some cases the most convenient option may appear to be making an international transfer through your bank, we strongly encourage customers to weigh up their options first, as there are many specialist companies whose expertise in the industry will save you time and money.

Check and check again

In order to make sure your international payment is successful, we recommend using an IBAN checker to verify the validity of the information. An IBAN checker is a handy online tool that scours the internet for the correct information, double checking that the details are correct before you submit a payment.

What is an IBAN checker?


Here at MoneyTransfers we strive to provide as much relevant, high-quality information about subjects relating to cross-border payments as possible. If you would like to learn more about IBANs, SWIFT codes, or any other banking information, check out our Guides page.

Additionally, country-specific information can be found via our Send Money page, with details about the sorts of banking information that will be collected during the international money transfer process, based on the destination of your remittance.

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Article Factchecked by Elliot Laybourne on 20th July 2022 Elliott is a former investment banker with a 20 year career in the city of London. During this time he held senior roles at ABN Amro, Societe Generale, Marex Financial and Natixis bank, specialising in commodity derivatives and options market-making. During this time, Elliott’s client list included Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Schroders Asset Management, and the Pennsylvania State Public School Employees Retirement System, amongst others.
April Summers
April Summers
April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for 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.