International Bank Account Number (IBAN) UK Guide

IBAN or international bank account number is a system of assigning a unique number to an individual, using which the person’s banking information or details would be globally or internationally recognized. IBAN was first introduced in Europe by the European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS) to facilitate payments within the European Union without transcription errors. With a uniform system of number accounts, there were fewer chances of errors in transactions. Also, the IBAN could speed up every transaction due to its recognition among all banks or authorities using the system.

Sample IBAN numbers:

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IBAN has since then moved beyond the European Union and today is a globally acknowledged, accepted and used concept. Initially, an IBAN typically comprised of 34 characters but that has changed now. Today, some countries have less than 20 characters while some have more than 20 but less than 30. Very few countries have an IBAN exceeding 30 characters, example Malta.

Every country has its own code to start with and then the IBAN will comprise of the national code of the bank, the branch code where a person has an account and the account number. Thus, in the UK, the IBAN starts with the country code, which is GB (Great Britain), followed by the BIC bank code which is the Bank Identifier Code, sort code and account number. An example of an IBAN in UK is GBkk bbbb ssss sscc cccc cc, where ‘b’ is the BIC bank code, ‘s’ is the sort code or branch code and ‘c’ is the account number. An IBAN in the UK has 22 characters.

An individual doesn’t have to apply for an IBAN separately. If a bank is recognized in a country and has its national code, allows foreign transactions and adheres to the IBAN system of numbering accounts then by the virtue of the bank’s provisions, an individual will have his or her international bank account number. IBAN is also endorsed and promoted by SEPA or Single Euro Payments Area. Validate an International Bank Account Number structure and length, identify the bank owning this account, BIC code and address at IBAN checker.

Today, most banking transactions, especially cross border or international payments are processed using IBAN. Even PayPal payments when not made from one PayPal account to another PayPal account will need an IBAN. Escrow payments and most other types of transactions that require funds being credited to or debited from a bank account will require an international bank account number. Ideally, everyone should have an IBAN but those who have accounts with reputed banks will get it by default.