IBAN vs. SWIFT codes: What you ought to know | finder.com

Bank codes demystified: IBAN and SWIFT

These international systems move your money among countries.

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Banks and other financial institutions keep track of your money using a system of unique codes assigned to each bank or account they do business with. Different countries use different systems, and the two most common are IBAN and SWIFT codes.

SWIFT codes vs. IBAN numbers

DescriptionWhere you can find itExample
SWIFTA SWIFT number is an alphanumeric number containing information that identifies a bank and branch. It can be eight or 11 characters long, depending on which bank office it refers to.Bank statement, Online banking system, Inquire in the bankNFBKUS33
IBANAn IBAN number is an alphanumeric number containing information that identifies a bank, country and account number. With lengths fixed by country, IBAN codes can be up to 34 characters.Bank statement, Online banking systemGB 29 NWBK 601613 31926819

What is a SWIFT code?

SWIFT is short for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. Despite its oversized name, it’s simply a worldwide bank ID.

Unlike IBAN, which identifies specific bank accounts, SWIFT refers to a specific bank only — including banks in the US. Some 40,000 banks and offices worldwide are part of the SWIFT network.

What does a SWIFT code look like?

A SWIFT number is an alphanumeric number containing information that identifies a bank and branch. It can be 8 or 11 characters long, depending on which bank office it refers to.

An example of a SWIFT code is this one for a Capital One in New York City: NFBKUS33.

We can break down this SWIFT code to discover:

  • A four-letter bank code.
  • A two-letter country code.
  • A two-letter location code.
  • A two-digit branch code.

Where can I find my SWIFT code?

If you live in a country that participates in SWIFT, find your SWIFT number on your bank statement, by signing in to your online banking system or by calling your bank.

If you’re sending money internationally and need a SWIFT number, ask your recipient for the SWIFT number of the bank to which their account belongs.

Is my SWIFT code the same as my routing number?

No. For domestic payments, US banks use a domestic routing code to identify your specific bank and bank account. It’s made of a nine-digit ABA number that identifies your bank and branch and your unique account number.

This routing number is often found at the bottom of your personal checks or by signing in to your online banking system.

What is an IBAN code?

Short for International Bank Account Number, an IBAN code is a unique number assigned to specific bank accounts involved in international business. Though not exclusive to Europe, IBAN is used in most European countries. The United States does not use IBAN numbers, but you could encounter them when sending money to an international recipient — specifying the IBAN number makes for faster transactions.

What does an IBAN code look like?

An IBAN number is an alphanumeric number containing information that identifies a bank, country and account number. With lengths fixed by country, IBAN codes can be up to 34 characters.

An example of an IBAN code in at Great Britain’s National Westminster Bank is GB 29 NWBK 601613 31926819.

Breaking down our UK IBAN code, we find:

  • A two-letter country code.
  • A two-digit transaction number.
  • A four-letter bank code.
  • A six-digit bank sort code.
  • A unique number specific to the bank account.

Where can I find my IBAN number?

If you live in a country that uses IBAN, you can find your IBAN number on your bank statement or by signing in to your online banking system.

If you’re sending money internationally and need an IBAN number, ask your recipient for the IBAN number of their deposit account.

Bottom line

The mysterious IBAN and SWIFT codes are anything but: They identify specific banks among the many financial transactions conducted worldwide among bank accounts. And they’re especially important when it comes to international money transfers.

Learn more about getting the best rates and fees to friends, family and businesses abroad in our guide to international money transfers.

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18 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    EloisaMarch 28, 2019

    Hola, tengo una consulta, soy de El Salvador y me enviaran una transferencia desde España, pero me piden el IBAN de este País, y aquí solo se trabaja con código swift, sin embargo, me indican que si logró enviarles el código IBAN de un Banco de El Salvador, no será posible que yo reciba la transferencia, que opciones tengo?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesMarch 29, 2019Staff

      Hola eloisa

      Gracias por contactar a Finder.

      En El Salvador, hay 11 bancos diferentes y 13 sucursales bancarias diferentes de estos bancos. Es posible que deba comunicarse directamente con su banco para obtener su código IBAN, ya que es una combinación de SWIFT y su número de cuenta bancaria. ¡Espero que esto ayude!

      Aclamaciones,
      Reggie

  2. Default Gravatar
    RobertMarch 28, 2019

    Barclay’s bank send to me account number ,pin code ,international call no so that I must transfer money to my bank account then I must phone and follow voice prompted. On the voice prompt it need six digits for change access code to commence with transfer transaction. I don’t know that code. Please help me.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesMarch 29, 2019Staff

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Swift and IBAN codes are alpha numeric which is a combination of letters and numbers. You may need to reach out to Barclay directly so you could inquire what code that is the voice prompt is asking. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  3. Default Gravatar
    ACMarch 20, 2019

    I cannot proceed to international bank transfer because the swift code of beneficiary bank is not yet registered for online operations. Can I replace the swift code with the IBAN? I mean instead to write in the space where is located SWIFT code just type the IBAN instead.

    Thank you.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniMarch 23, 2019Staff

      Hi AC,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Yes, you may use the IBAN so long that your bank already have that. Please note that the United States does not use IBAN numbers, but you could encounter them when sending money to an international recipient — specifying the IBAN number makes for faster transactions.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  4. Default Gravatar
    SamMarch 11, 2019

    What documents are needed to ensure that you legally transfer money , and where do I obtain this document s

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesMarch 12, 2019Staff

      Hi Sam,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Generally, when transferring money you would only need the receiver’s information to complete a transfer. For large sum transfers, the remittance center or the bank will provide you documents that you would need to complete which are normally handed over to the IRS to validate that the transfer is legal. For more information on this, you may contact your local bank or remittance center. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  5. Default Gravatar
    ferozFebruary 14, 2019

    How to do i identify the Bank key with the help of SWIFT code, account number and Bank name

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesFebruary 15, 2019Staff

      Hi Feroz,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Bank key is a country unique number and is called routing number. You may need to contact your bank directly to check further on this. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

  6. Default Gravatar
    NancyJanuary 18, 2019

    Are there any European banks which will use a SWIFT code and routing number instead of an IBAN to accept a direct deposit from the US?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJanuary 19, 2019Staff

      Hi Nancy H,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Please note that banks in the United States don’t use IBAN codes to identify specific banks or account numbers but SWIFT, while European banks use IBAN codes to identify specific banks or account numbers. In addition, SWIFT and IBAN codes identify specific banks among the many financial transactions conducted worldwide among bank accounts. And they’re especially important when it comes to international money transfers.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  7. Default Gravatar
    JamesOctober 29, 2018

    How do I get my Swift code six digit number without calling my bank? It’s Bank of Monroe.

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloOctober 29, 2018

      Hi James,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Unfortunately, I can not find the swift code for The Bank of Monroe. It is possible that The Bank of Monroe is not connected to the SWIFT network. Most of the credit unions and small banks in USA do not have the connectivity to swift network and thus does not have a Swift Code, IBAN or other international routing codes and you can’t directly receive international funds in your account with credit unions/ banks.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

  8. Default Gravatar
    harishSeptember 12, 2018

    how can i trace my swift transfer???

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloSeptember 12, 2018

      Hi Harish,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      If your transfer isn’t delivered within the window you were promised, you can request a trace on your transaction using the bank’s SWIFT code. A SWIFT code is an ID that banks use when sending wire transfers. With this number, your bank can determine whether the deposit is on hold or in progress.

      How can “on hold” be an option? One drawback of SWIFT transfers is that banks can hold on to your money until they’re able to get an exchange rate that better favors their bottom line. If your money needs to reach your recipient by a specific deadline, be sure to specify that exact date or time to avoid any bank delay.

      Nevertheless, you can contact your bank to follow up if there is a delay to see what could be causing it.

      Cheers,
      Joel

  9. Default Gravatar
    LafaeeJuly 14, 2018

    Where do I locate my swift 6 digit code

    • Default Gravatar
      joelmarceloJuly 14, 2018

      Hi Lafaee,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Since you didn’t mention what your bank is, you can call your bank and ask them for the SWIFT code. You can also go to the bank’s website and see if they have their SWIFT code listed. You may also check your bank statement to find your bank’s SWIFT code. Hope it helps!

      Cheers,
      Joel

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