Money transfers come in all shapes and sizes. You might be sending money to friends and family, setting up a recurring online payment or making mass international business transfers. In the interest of clearing things up for all customers, this guide will focus on how to differentiate between an IBAN and an account number.
In this guide we will be discerning the main similarities and differences between an IBAN and an account number. These are both types of bank codes called upon during money transfers: one is designed to streamline cross-border transactions, while the other is used to facilitate domestic payments.
The information included in this article is designed to help any readers struggling to differentiate between IBANs and account numbers, in order to ensure all future money transfers and simple, easy and fast.
IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number, a code used around the world to identify individual bank accounts. They are required to identify the correct overseas bank account during a cross-border transaction.
An account number is a unique set of numbers used to identify a specific bank account. If you have multiple bank accounts each of them will have its own account number. An account number provides information that is required to receive domestic money transfers.
Made up of alphanumeric characters, an IBAN can be no more than 34 characters long. An example of an IBAN: AA-BB-CCCC-DDDDDD-EEEEEEEE
This code can be broken down into the following information:
[AA] country code: this identifies the country where the bank account is located
[BB] check digits: this enables the sending bank to perform a security check of the routing destination
[CCCC] bank identifier: this code identifies the account holder’s bank
[DDDDDD] sort code
[EEEEEEEE] account number
Once you have found an IBAN number, it is easy to identify an account number: they are the last 8 – 12 digits of your IBAN. Using the previous example, the account number would be [EEEEEEEE].
This will be the account number associated with whatever account is receiving funds and will have been assigned to the customer when opening the account.
As the name suggests, an International Bank Account Number is used for sending and receiving interbank transfers from overseas contacts. They may also be called for during other international payment procedures such as setting up a wire transfer.
When making a credit transfer or authorising a direct debit, customers will need to provide the account number of the beneficiary to enable the transfer. When sending money through an online money transfer provider directly to the recipient’s bank, customers will be asked to provide the recipient’s account number. Ordinarily, an account number will be used alongside a sort code.
The IBAN format is used mostly within the EU, but it is also used by financial institutions across the Caribbean, Middle East and Africa. One key global market that does not use IBAN is the United States. However, if you are based in the US and making a transfer to an account in Europe, it’s likely that you’ll need your recipient’s IBAN.
Account numbers are commonplace and used around the world, but the banking details they are accompanied by will depend entirely on the country.
For example, in the UK, an account number and sort code ordinarily work in conjunction to facilitate a money transfer. In the US, an account number will be used in conjunction with a routing number, to process a money transfer.
If you don’t have your IBAN to hand, you will be able to find out the number by doing the following:
If you are looking for your account number, it can be found in the following places:
As two very similar sounding financial terms, you would be correct for assuming these banking terms are interlinked. A bank account number can be derived from an IBAN, and being able to decode an IBAN is a helpful trick for anyone making regular global money transfers. We have written a number of guides about IBANs, account numbers, routing numbers, BIC and SWIFT codes, for anyone who needs to grasp the purpose of each. Before arranging a remittance, check out our money transfer search engine tool and explore our related content section below.
April is a journalist and full-time content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. Over the last decade she has written for a number of different online and print publications. Having lived overseas in Canada and Vietnam, April hopes to see more of the world as soon as possible, with Japan at the top of her travel list. As a former expat, April has first-hand experience of managing finances from overseas. She enjoys writing about forex trends and the future of banking.