IBAN Numbers: Your Complete Guide


An IBAN is an international bank account number. This sequence of numbers and letters - which can be up to 34 digits long - contains much of the information needed by banks to process international transfers, including your account number, bank, and country.

If you need an IBAN to send an international payment, this guide is for you. We'll cover all you need to know - including how to find the IBAN you need, and also take a look at a smart and simple way to send low cost international payments with currency specialist Wise.

What is an IBAN number?

IBAN numbers are needed to send international payments to many countries. They are unique identifiers, which follow an internationally agreed format to show the account number, sort code, bank and country of the account. Because they follow a standard format, errors in processing are reduced - meaning your payment gets where it's going quicker.

IBANs originated in Europe, and are used widely there. However, some other countries have also adopted this system. In North America IBANs are not usually used, but the system is recognised, and payments are processed according to the same protocols used in Europe.

IBAN number example 

An IBAN can have up to 34 numbers and letters, which form agreed combinations to show the details banks need to process cross border payments. 

Different countries use IBANs of different lengths because it's up to the individual country's banking authority to decide how many digits are used in an account number. An IBAN for the UK, for example, may only be 22 characters long. But it still contains all that's needed to make sure your international transfer arrives safely.

Here's what your IBAN will be made up of:

  • Country code - 2 characters, usually a familiar short form of the country in question
  • Check number - 2 digits
  • Bank code - this can be characters or digits - in the UK you'll usually find 4 character codes used
  • Account information - this will include the specific account number, and may also feature the sort code of the account


What is the difference between IBAN and SWIFT?

SWIFT codes - also known as SWIFT/BIC numbers - are used in processing international payments, to identify the bank holding the recipient's account. You'll usually need both a SWIFT code and an IBAN to make a payment, especially within Europe. These two alphanumeric codes cover most of the details needed to process payments safely.

Is IBAN the same as an account number?

An IBAN is not the same as a basic account number. An IBAN is required for international payments, but it doesn't replace the regular basic account number you'd use for day to day domestic banking. When making an international transfer, you might be asked to give both the IBAN, and the regular account number, so the processing bank can double check they match up.

Which countries use IBAN?

Most countries in Europe use IBAN numbers. Some other countries have also adopted the format, including areas of the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

How long does an IBAN transfer take?

The length of time it'll take for your transfer depends on where you're sending from and to, and the processes of your own bank and the recipient bank. Some transfers on common currency routes will only take a day or so, but other payments may take longer - 3 to 5 working days.

IBAN Generator - where can I find my IBAN?

If you need the right IBAN to sort out an international payment, you can easily find it using this smartIBAN generator tool.
Get everything you need for your cross border transfer, and don't forget to check out the costs of usingWise, against the price of a payment arranged by your normal bank.

IBAN codes for main banks in the UK:

- Barclays IBAN code is GB84BUKB + account information

- HSBC IBAN code is GB28HBUK + account information

- Natwest IBAN code is GB03NWBK + account information

- Lloyds IBAN code is GB19LOYD + account information

- Nationwide IBAN code is GB74NAIA + account information

Use this dedicatedIBAN finder toolfor more IBAN codes