The IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, provides a unique, internationally recognised code for your bank account. It is not a new account number, but simply a new format for your existing account number. An IBAN can consist of up to 34 characters, and is a combination of letters and numbers. It contains a country code, two check digits, the bank account number, branch code, and potential routing information.
SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication. A SWIFT code is an international bank code that provides a unique identifier for every bank worldwide. It is commonly interchanged with BIC, or Bank Identifier Code, which also consists of 8 or 11 characters, and serves a similar purpose.
The SWIFT code helps identify a unique bank. The IBAN on the other hand identifies an individual bank account within the bank. Both are standardised, internationally recognised codes, which help in the smooth completion of international bank transactions, and allow you to send and receive money from anywhere in the world.
IBAN and SWIFT are useful not just for the processing of international payments, but also to check that the transaction details are correct. Before these identification codes existed, each country had its own bank identification system unconnected across the world, making it possible for incorrect details to result in delays, or even your money landing in the wrong hands. Today, you can verify any IBAN or SWIFT code through a variety of websites to ensure you have the correct information.
For European (and some OECD countries) IBAN and
BIC codes are required for fund transfers. The US and Canada however do not use
IBAN, and require SWIFT for the processing of payments. However, they do
recognise the system and process payments accordingly. The SWIFT system
dominates the majority of international fund transfers today. Being able to
access both or at least one of these identifiers is essential for a smooth
international bank transfer. The identifier required will depend on the sender
and receiver’s banks, and the countries between which the transfer is taking
You can find BIC and IBAN details on your bank statements. You may also contact your bank or check its website for BIC and SWIFT details.