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What is International Bank Account Number (“IBAN”)

The International Bank Account Number (“IBAN”) is a system to identify bank accounts internationally, in order to facilitate the communication and processing of cross border transactions with a reduced risk of transcription errors. IBAN is used when transferring money between banks, particularly for international wire transfers.

The system initially developed to facilitate payments within the European Union and currently has been implemented by most European countries and many countries in the Africa, Middle East and the Caribbean.

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (“SWIFT”) is the formal registrar of the system.

The downside of international transfers with your bank

When you send or receive an international wire with your bank, you might lose money on a bad exchange rate and pay hidden fees as a result. That’s because the banks still use an old system to exchange money. We recommend you use TransferWise, which is usually much cheaper. With their smart technology:

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Structure of International Bank Account Number (“IBAN”)

The IBAN consists of up to 34 alphanumeric characters which formatted as below

CCKKBBBBBBBBBBBB...

  • The first two 2 characters ("CC") specify the country code as of ISO 3166-1 alpha-2. Only letters.
  • The next 2 characters ("KK") specify the check digits for a sanity check. Only digits.
  • The remaining characters up to 30 characters ("BBBBBBBBBBBB...") specify the Basic Bank Account Number (“BBAN”). The format is decided by the national central bank or designated payment authority of each country. Both letters & digits allowed.

Structure of Basic Bank Account Number (“BBAN”)

The length of BBAN can be up to a maximum of 30 alphanumeric characters.

However, each country will have a fixed length and comprise case-insensitive alphanumeric characters. BBAN will normally local bank routing information such as bank & branch indentifier and domestic bank account number.