Making international payments

Banks throughout Europe now all use a standard format for International Bank Account Numbers (IBANS) and Bank Identifier Codes (BICs). So when you’re making or receiving payments across Europe, it makes the process quicker, safer and more efficient.

  • Do I need a BIC and IBAN to receive payments from Europe?

    Yes. To receive a payment from elsewhere in Europe you need to provide the payer with your own IBAN and BIC details. Otherwise, you may find your money is delayed or even returned to the payer.

    Where can I find my BIC & IBAN?

    These are on your bank account statement, for both sterling and currency accounts.

    How secure are BICs and IBANs?

    Giving your BIC and IBAN details is like sharing your sort code and bank account details with a third party in the UK. Make sure that you only share the BIC and IBAN with the payer. Under no circumstances should you give out any other confidential information, such as a PIN or memorable information. These might allow an unauthorised person to access your account.

Since January 1, 2006, it’s been compulsory that all payments to and from Europe include a Bank Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN).

BICs and IBANs

BICs and IBANs perform a similar function in Europe to sort codes and account numbers in the UK, so that payments can be quickly and accurately processed.

BICs – what do they look like?

BICs consist of letters and numbers, like IBANs. They are made up as follows:

Bank code (4 characters)

Country code (2 characters)

Location code (2 characters)

Branch code (3 characters)

Bank code (4 characters)


Country code (2 characters)


Location code (2 characters)


Branch code (3 characters)


Do I need a BIC or IBAN to make payments to Europe?

Yes. You must provide a BIC and IBAN for the person or business you are sending funds to. If you don’t, the payment may be delayed, returned or incur additional charges. Payments to countries outside Europe generally don’t require a BIC or IBAN (exceptions include Bahrain and the UAE).

IBANs – what do they look like?

IBANs are usually made up of letters and numbers. Here are some examples of European IBANs:

Austria: AT123456789101112131
France: FR123456789101112131
Germany: DE123456789101112131
Ireland: IE291234567891011121

The number of characters in an IBAN will vary from country to country, but is fixed for a particular country. French IBANs, for example, always have 20 characters.

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