IBAN: International Bank Account Number Explained

What is an iban? definition, meaning, and explanation of international bank account number

What is IBAN: International Bank Account Number?

The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a system of identifying bank accounts internationally, in order to facilitate the communication and processing of cross border transactions with a reduced risk of transcription errors. It was originally adopted by the European Committee for Banking Standards (ECBS), and later as an international standard under ISO 13616:1997. The current standard is ISO 13616:2007, which indicates SWIFT as the formal registrar.

Structure of an IBAN

An IBAN consists of up to 34 alphanumeric characters, which are structured as follows:

  • Country Code: A two-letter code representing the country where the bank is located.
  • Check Digits: Two digits that allow the integrity of the entire IBAN to be checked.
  • Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN): A number that includes the domestic bank account number, branch identifier, and potential routing information.

Usage of IBAN

The IBAN is used to ensure that transactions are processed correctly. By using an IBAN, it is possible to make or receive payments to bank accounts in different countries with confidence, as the number contains all the necessary details to ensure the transaction is processed correctly. This includes the country, bank, and individual account number.

Benefits of Using IBAN

There are several benefits to using an IBAN for international transactions:

  • Accuracy: The use of IBAN reduces the risk of errors in transcription, as the number is checked for accuracy before the transaction is processed.
  • Efficiency: Transactions are processed more quickly when an IBAN is used, as the number contains all the necessary information for the transaction.
  • Security: The use of an IBAN can help to prevent fraud, as the number is unique to each bank account and can be verified before a transaction is processed.

How to Obtain an IBAN

If you need to obtain an IBAN for a bank account, you should contact your bank. They will be able to provide you with the IBAN for your account, which you can then use for international transactions. It’s important to note that while the IBAN is widely used in Europe, it is not used in all countries. Therefore, it’s important to check whether the country you are sending money to or receiving money from uses the IBAN system.


In summary, the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a crucial tool for facilitating international banking transactions. Its structure ensures accuracy, efficiency, and security, making it an essential part of modern banking. Whether you’re a business conducting international trade or an individual sending money abroad, understanding and using the IBAN can help ensure your transactions are processed correctly.


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