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Background

Before IBAN, customers, especially individuals and small/medium businesses (SME's), used to be confused by the differing national standards for bank account identification such as bank, branch, routing codes and account number. This often led to necessary routing information being missing from payments. Furthermore routing information as specified by ISO 9 3 6 2 does not contain check digits, so simple errors of transcription were not detectable and it was not possible for a sending bank to validate the routing information prior to submitting the payment. Routing errors were therefore frequent causing payments to be delayed and incurred extra costs to the sending and receiving banks and often to intermediary banks also.

IBAN imposes a flexible but regular format sufficient for account identification and contains validation information to avoid errors of transcription.

The standard IBAN now carries all the routing information needed to get a payment from one bank to another wherever it may be. IBAN contains check digits which can be validated in any country according to a single standard procedure. It also contains all the key bank account details such as Bank Identifier Codes, branch codes (known as sort codes in the United Kingdom ) and account numbers. Where used, IBAN's have reduced trans-national money transfer errors to under 0.1% of total payments.

The check digits enable the sending bank (or its customer) to verify the validity of a routing destination and account number from a single string of data at the time of data entry. Thus routing and account number errors are virtually eliminated.

The IBAN should not contain spaces when transmitted electronically. However, when printed on paper, the IBAN is expressed in groups of four characters separated by a single space, the last group being of variable length as shown in the example below

Country

IBAN formatting example

Greece

GR1 6 0110 10 5 0 0000 10 5 4 7 0 2 3 7 9 5

Great Britain

GB 3 5 MIDL 4 0 2 5 3 4 3 2 1 4 4 6 7 0

Saudi Arabia

SA 8 0 8 0 0 0 0 3 7 5 6 0 8 0 101 9 01 6 0

Switzerland

CH 5 1 0 8 6 8 6 0 0 1 2 5 6 5 1 5 0 0 1

UAE

AE0 7 0 3 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 012 3 4 5 6

 

The characters that may be used in an IBAN are the Hindu-Arabic numerals '0' to ' 9 ' and the 2 6 upper case Latin alphabetic characters 'A' to 'Z'. This applies even in countries such as Greece , Saudi Arabia and others where these characters and/or numerals are not used in the national language.

        

Last Updated on 20, September 2017