How Your International Bank Account Number (IBAN) Works

An international bank account number (IBAN) is used to identify an account that you open with an international bank. The IBAN standard was first implemented to facilitate cross-border banking between countries that are members of the European Union (EU). It quickly spread to become a broader standard for any type of nation-to-nation banking where the account owner is not a resident of the country where the bank is located.

The IBAN is used primarily within EU countries and a few Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations, such as Israel, Turkey, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, and in Mauritius. Banks in the United States do not use IBANs for their accounts. Doing so could create some errors with respect to payment transfers as a result of the difference in standards between the EU and the US.

How the IBAN Is Constructed

The IBAN number consists of 4 digits that include a country code and a check code, followed by a series of digits (up to 30). The series of digits following the four digits meet what is called the basic bank account number (BBAN). Each country sets its own standard for the BBAN, as long as it is consistent for all accounts within the country and does not exceed 30 digits.
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