When you open a bank account in the UK, you won’t just be given an account number. You’ll also have a sort code, which is essential for certain financial transactions. So, just what are sort codes, and how do you identify yours?
Here at Remitly, we know that moving to a new country can mean wrapping your head around a lot of new information – especially when it comes to financial matters. That’s why we’ve put together this simple and quick guide to sort codes, so you can tick it off your list of things to find out about. Let’s get stuck in.
What actually is a sort code?
A sort code is a string of numbers which identifies two things:
- Your bank (for example, Barclays, Santander, or Lloyds)
- The specific bank branch where you opened your account
Each sort code is made up of six digits which are arranged in three pairs. For example, 22-45-19. The first two digits identify your bank, while the remaining four digits identify the branch.
Sort codes are important because they allow financial institutions to confirm the validity of a transfer and correctly route the money from one account to another.
It’s worth noting that online-only banks, which don’t have branches, may provide just one sort code to all of their customers. For example, 60-83-71 is the sort code for every Starling Bank account, while 04-00-04 identifies all Monzo accounts.
Why do I need a sort code?
There are a few important scenarios where your sort code will be required. A prime example is when you’re receiving money into your bank account from a person or institution in the UK. Say, a friend is paying you back an amount they owe you, or a family member is sending you a gift, or your employer is paying your wages into your account.
In all of these cases, they’ll need to know your sort code to make it happen. Likewise, you’ll need to know someone’s sort code if you’re sending money to their account in the UK.
You’ll also have to provide your sort code if you decide to set up a Direct Debit. This is when you allow a company, for example your electricity supplier, to automatically collect payments from your bank account on predetermined dates. Putting a Direct Debit in place is a great way of ensuring you always pay your bills on time, and your sort code will be needed to do it.
How do I find my sort code?
As the six digits are always separated into three pairs of numbers by hyphens, sort codes are pretty easy to spot. You can:
- Check your debit card, as bank will often (but not always) print the sort code on the front of the card, next to the account number
- Log onto your account through the bank’s website or mobile app, to find the sort code listed among your account details
- Check your bank statements, whether they’re sent online or in the post
Often when sending money international you’ll also need to be able to find your recipient’s IBAN number. Find out how to do this here.
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