How IBAN Codes work

March 3, 2021
When you’re making an international money transfer there’s a good chance it involves at least one of these two standardised codes: the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) code.

With both the IBAN and SWIFT Codes, you can make international transactions but IBAN codes are most popular in European countries. That said, the list of countries outside of Europe that are starting to integrate IBAN codes is growing fast across South America, Africa and Central Asia.

Each code holds different information needed to complete the international money transfer between banks. As we discussed in a previous post, the SWIFT Code helps to identify the financial organisations involved in the transaction and make communication between them easier and more secure. The IBAN Codes are used to identify the individuals involved in the overseas money transfer. Here’s how it works.

Breaking down IBAN Codes

Using the IBAN Code, it becomes much easier for the organisations involved in the transaction to identify where the recipient bank is located and what the bank account number is of the recipient. This makes international money transfers faster as it’s easier to locate the recipient, but also more secure as incorrect transactions are less likely to happen.

IBAN Codes have different lengths, but typically range from 16 to 30 characters of both letters and numbers. The first 2 letters are the country code, which is then followed by 2 check digits and then a string of alphanumeric character which specify the bank, location, and individual account number.

An IBAN example for a bank account in the UK would be GB33BUKB20201555555555.

Sending money overseas

When you send or receive money overseas using your bank, you might lose money on a
bad exchange rate which means you are paying for hidden fees built into that rate. It’s an issue for almost any currency pairing but especially so for currencies that are traded less on FX markets such as NGN, INR, GHS, KES, and PHP.

We think that’s unfair and completely unnecessary. Sending money shouldn’t cost a fortune. That’s why we offer money transfers at competitive rates and always show all fees upfront, without hidden charges. Ever. We understand everyone’s needs are different, so we have a range of methods to send money overseas including cards, cheques, bank transfers and mobile airtime top ups. You choose what’s best for you and your loved ones, and we’ll make sure it’s fast and secure.

Send more than money.