What is an IBAN?

An International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a standardised way to allow overseas banks to easily handle the account number and bank identifier of a beneficiary in another country.

  • An IBAN is not a new account number
  • Your existing bank code and account number(s) are not replaced
  • Additional characters appear in front of your existing bank code and account numbers.

Example of a UK IBAN

An IBAN is comprised of the complete identifier, original bank code and account number, plus the additional characters shown above.

Why is the IBAN important?

In order to make a European cross border payment, customers need to quote an IBAN. An IBAN offers a simple method for checking the validity of a beneficiary’s bank account number for cross-border payment transactions.

IBAN implementation has facilitated improvements in the quality of information exchanged between parties involved in European cross-border payments, helping to reduce errors and delays.

Who needs an IBAN?

Any UK bank customer who is likely to receive or make overseas payments will require an IBAN. Many European banks already issue IBANs for their customers. IBANs were first issued in the UK in April 2001 for customers who required them. If you have not been issued an IBAN, and require one because you carry out business within Europe, please contact your bank.

How does an IBAN work?

IBANs are based on an international standard (ISO 13616) that defines the structure and format of the international identifier for bank accounts. In the UK, the ISO IBAN standard has been implemented according to Standard 48. This standard defines the UK national account number structure to be used to identify the bank, branch and account number within the IBAN. This standard is designed to support use of the IBAN within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

An IBAN is calculated in such a way that it provides a guard against the accidental transposition of its characters/numbers. It can be checked or validated using an IBAN checker, however its validation does not guarantee that the bank code or account number is correct and does not guarantee the account actually exists or is live.

Information on Standard 48