The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an international standard for numbering bank accounts adopted by the European Committee for Banking Standards. The IBAN, developed to help improve the payments system within the European Union, uniquely identifies a customer’s bank account through a structure that is unique to each account holder. The account holder’s financial institution assigns the unique IBAN. Use of an IBAN within international wire transfer instructions will improve the efficiency and speed of cross-border euro payments by allowing straight-through processing which leads to a reduction in payment errors, processing delays and processing fees.

Starting in January 2007, IBANs and Bank Identifier Codes (BIC) will become mandatory for international wire transfers to European countries. Only the bank servicing an account can provide the correct IBAN of that account and the related BIC. Firstmark Credit Union members wishing to make wire transfers to Europe need to contact the (recipient) account owner who will obtain the IBAN from their European financial institution.

International wires that are processed without a proper IBAN and BIC could be refused, delayed or assessed significant processing fees by the beneficiary’s financial institution.

It is recommended that IBANs be used for payments to the following countries:
Andorra France Lithuania San Marino
Austria Germany Luxembourg Serbia and Montenegro
Belgium Gibraltar Macedonia Slovak Republic
Bosnia and Herzegovina Greece Malta Slovenia
Croatia Hungary Monaco Spain
Cyprus Iceland Netherlands Sweden
Czech Republic Ireland Norway Switzerland
Denmark (including Faroe Islands and Greenland) Italy Poland Tunisia
Estonia Latvia Portugal Turkey
Finland Liechtenstein Romania United Kingdom
What does an IBAN include?

The IBAN contains a two-character country code, a two-digit IBAN check digit, a bank identifier, a branch identifier (if used) and an account number. IBAN codes are a maximum of 34 alphanumeric characters. The following is an example of an IBAN used in the UK:

  • GB = Country code
  • 29 = Check digit
  • NWBK = Bank code – first four characters of SWIFT code
  • 601613 = Bank sort code – U.K. sort code
  • 31926819 = Account number
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a BIC (SWIFT code)?

A. The Bank Identifier Codes (BIC), sometimes referred to as the Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) code (both terms are used interchangeably), is a unique identifier for financial institutions. The BIC is used as the international standard for identification of financial institutions in a payment chain. It is part of the IBAN

Q. What is an IBAN?

A. International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) criterion for bank accounts. The IBAN is composed of a two-character ISO country code, two-digit IBAN check digit, bank/branch identifier and account number. IBAN codes are a maximum of 34 digits long. IBANs are a global standard for account numbers that uniquely identify a customer’s bank account.

Q. What is the BIC and IBAN resolution?

A. The BIC and IBAN resolution was written by the European Payments Council in an effort to promote the migration to a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) by the year 2010. The European Payments Council (EPC) has mandated the usage of BIC and IBAN for euro payments to promote a greater level of straight-through processing (STP) in the European marketplace and increase the overall efficiency of payments.

Q. What does the BIC and IBAN resolution indicate?

A. The BIC and IBAN resolution mandates the usage of BIC and IBAN as the only identifier for the beneficiary account number and beneficiary bank after Jan. 1, 2007 for all intra-European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) Euro payments.

Q. If the IBAN is a unique code, why is a SWIFT/BIC also required?

A. The IBAN provides the account number and the SWIFT/BIC provides the routing information. While routing information is incorporated into the IBAN, neither the banking systems nor the market infrastructures are in a position to extract and use it.

Q. Who is responsible for issuing IBANs?

A. The account-holding bank is responsible for issuing IBANs to its customers.

Q. Where can members obtain IBANs for financial institutions in Europe?

A. Only the bank servicing an account can provide the correct IBAN of that account and the related BIC. Members wishing to make wire transfers to Europe need to contact the owner of the account to obtain the IBAN from their financial institution.