What is an IBAN? How to Find and Use one

Last updated on December 22nd, 2023 at 01:25 am

When you’re sending money to a bank account in another country, you may need your recipient’s IBAN. Made up of several letters and digits, IBANs provide a standardised way for financial institutions to locate each other across the world.

At Remitly, we know that transferring funds to loved ones back home can be a top priority after you settle into a new country. That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide to IBANs, so you can quickly understand how the system works and make transactions with ease. Let’s get straight to it.

What actually is an IBAN?

An IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, can contain up to 34 letters and digits. While an IBAN may look like a randomly assigned code at first glance, each one actually follows a standard format that conveys key information. 

The first two letters identify the country – for example “PK” for Pakistan, “SA” for Saudi Arabia and “GB” for the United Kingdom. This is followed by two check digits, which are used to confirm the validity of the IBAN.

The rest of the IBAN conveys an individual’s specific bank account details, and the length and format of this section will vary from country to country.

IBANs are used in dozens of nations across the globe to make transferring money abroad an easier and more foolproof process. 

Why do I need an IBAN to send money home?

When making an international money transfer, you’ll need to know your recipient’s IBAN if:

  • They live in a country that participates in the IBAN system, AND
  • You’re sending money directly to their bank account

So, let’s say you’re using Remitly to send money to a family member to Pakistan, which is an IBAN country. If you select “Bank Deposit” as the delivery method, you’ll need to input your loved one’s IBAN.

On the other hand, you won’t need their IBAN if you send the funds to either their mobile money account or a designated cash pickup location, which are the other two delivery methods available for Pakistan. 

Similarly, if you’ve moved to an IBAN country and are looking to receive money into your bank account from someone back home, you’ll need to let the sender know what your IBAN is.

How do I find my IBAN?

You can find your IBAN by:

  • Looking at your bank account statements
  • Logging onto your account through the bank’s website or mobile app, and looking for the IBAN there 
  • If this doesn’t work you can also use this IBAN calculator to figure out your IBAN – depending on which country you are based in you will likely need to know your account number and some other information 

When it comes to sending money abroad, you’ll need to ask your recipient for their IBAN. If they don’t have it to hand, they can simply contact their bank to find out what it is.

It’s always a good idea to double-check the IBAN is 100% accurate. As an IBAN is made up of so many digits, it’s all too easy for you or your recipient to make a small mistake when recording or inputting it, and that will cause problems during the transfer.

Once you’ve checked every digit is where it should be, you can go ahead and send the money where it needs to be.  

Learn More

Unsure about the difference between an IBAN and a SWIFT Code? Learn about the difference between the two numbers here

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