What is an IBAN?

Academy · 18 April 2020Revolut Contributor

Many know it simply as the long number you need when you want to receive an international cash transfer. But what is an IBAN number? And what is it used for?

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number and every bank account in the EU (as well as some other countries) has one. Your IBAN is unique to your account, and it is designed to distinguish with accuracy between the millions of bank accounts across the world.

In this sense, they are necessary things. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about IBAN numbers.

What is an IBAN Number?

An IBAN number is a unique code that identifies your specific bank account. It identifies the account’s country, the name of the account holder – i.e. the bank – and the details of the specific account too.

You will need it every time you intend to receive an international payment from someone in the European Union, or from other countries that use the IBAN. Whilst over seventy countries around the world use the IBAN, many do not. These include the USA, Canada, and China, which use the SWIFT code or BIC instead.

Within Europe, most banks will require that you quote both the IBAN and the BIC for international payments, too.

What is the Format of an IBAN Number?

An IBAN number can be up to 34 digits; a mixture of letters or numbers. However, for every UK bank account, the IBAN is 22 digits long.

The first two letters of the number are the country code. For the UK, this is “GB”. Two digits – known as the “IBAN Checksum” – follow, which are calculated by an algorithm to confirm the validity of the number.

These are followed by what is known as your BBAN, your basic bank account number. This includes the four-letter bank code – such as REVO – derived from your BIC code, and your sort code and account number follow.

What is the Difference between IBAN and Account Number?

Your IBAN and your account number are not the same thing. Whilst you will conventionally use your sort code and account number for domestic transactions, IBAN numbers are used for international transfers.

You will never confuse an IBAN with a UK bank account number. Remember that the IBAN starts with two letters, whilst your account number is an eight-digit number that constitutes part of your IBAN.

Which Part of an IBAN is the Account Number?

Normally, your account number makes up the last eight digits of the IBAN. If your account number is only seven digits long, which happens with some banks, a zero will be added as the first digit.

With Revolut, this works a little differently, however. Your IBAN for international transfers will not correspond to your local account details – so be careful when sharing them.

How do I Find out What My IBAN Number Is?

Whilst many of us won’t use the IBAN very often, it is easy enough to find. You will normally be able to find it on your banking app or via online banking – but the precise location of this will differ from bank to bank. It should also appear on any paper statements you receive.

To find your IBAN on the Revolut app, head to your Dashboard and click on an account for a given currency, whether British Pound or Euro. You’ll see your “Local” details displayed – but click on SWIFT and your IBAN will appear.

Otherwise, there are IBAN number calculators available online that will generate your unique code from your sort code and account number. Just ensure that it is correct, as there is no way for the sender to get the money back once it has been transferred.


So, what is an IBAN number? It’s simple: it’s the code you will need, alongside your BIC, to accept international payments. It’s 22 digits and it’s easy enough to find through your Revolut app.

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