What is Business Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN)?

Whatever your payment method would be, cash in advance, open account, cash against documents, letter of credit or bank payment obligation, you need to supply your bank enough “payments reference data” in order to be your international payment completed correctly. 

Payments reference data” are the sets of data that banks use when executing international money transfers. Money transfer regulations vary from one country to another. As a result different “Payments reference data” would be required when transferring funds between different countries. 

Business Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) are two main “Payments Reference Data” definitions that you need to know regarding the international money transfers. Today I am going to describe these two terms in detail.

Let us start with Business Identifier Code (BIC). 

Business Identifier Code (BIC)

Business identifier code is also known as swift code or swift address. Swift address term can be accepted as a more informal definition that is used by exporters and importers. Business identifier code (BIC) is a formal definition and preferred by the banking professionals. 

What is Business Identifier Code (BIC)?

The Business Identifier Code (BIC) is a standard established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard is known as ISO 9362. SWIFT is the registration authority of ISO BIC codes. As a result BIC codes can be assigned to financial and non-financial institutions only by SWIFT

The BIC can be defined as an address of an each bank branch in authenticated swift network. Each bank branch that is using swift network has a unique BIC code

What are the types of Business Identifier Code (BIC)?

There are two types of BIC: 8 character BIC (also called "BIC8") and 11 character BIC ("BIC11"). A BIC8 identifies a financial or non-financial institution in a country or a location. A BIC11 identifies the institution's branch. 

Example of BIC8:


The first four characters in BIC code identify the bank. In this example MIDL identifies HSBC BANK PLC. According to BIC standards the first four characters must be alphabetic characters only.

The following two characters identify the country where the bank is located. In this example GB identifies Great Britain. According to BIC standards these two characters have to be the ISO country code consists of two alphabetic characters.  

Last two digits in BIC8 code is the location code, which provides geographical distinction within a country, such as a city, state, province or time zone. In this example 22 identifies London. The location code consists of two characters that can be alphabetic or numeric.  

Example of BIC11:

BIC11 is the BIC codes of the bank branches. BIC8 can be extended to an 11 character BIC by adding a branch code. 

MIDLGB2103J is the BIC code of Market Hill Branch of HSBC Bank PLC, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Whenever an 8 character BIC code needs to be interpreted in the 11 character format, the branch code "XXX" is added. For a message processing application, the BICs MIDLGB22 and MIDLGB22XXX are equivalent.

International Bank Account Number (IBAN)

What is International Bank Account Number (IBAN)?

IBAN is the acronym of International Bank Account Number. IBAN is an ISO 13616 standard which is created for numbering bank accounts. SWIFT is the designated “Registration Authority” for ISO 13616 standard since 2006. 

Swift is the designated “Registration Authority” for both BIC codes and IBAN numbers.  

What are the types of International Bank Account Number (IBAN)?

All International Bank Account Numbers have the same structure. Only the length of the IBANs changes from one country to another. Within the same country all IBANs have the same length. For example all IBANs in Belgium contain 16 characters, whereas all IBANs in Germany consist of 22 characters. But the main structure of the IBAN is the same in all countries.

Example of IBAN

DE89 3704 0044 0532 0130 00 is an IBAN number from Germany. 

The first two characters of an IBAN number is the country code. IBAN country codes are derived from ISO country codes. DE represents GERMANY. 

The two following characters are check numbers. Banks check the IBAN number with the help of these two check numbers in order to avoid erroneous payments.  

Remaining characters are the identifiers’ of the national bank account. Its format and length varies between countries. National bank account identifiers are also called as Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN). BBAN is the identifier that uniquely identifies an individual account, at a specific financial institution, in a particular country. The BBAN includes a bank identifier of the financial institution servicing that account. 

IBAN formats are submitted to the Swift registration authority exclusively by the National Standards Body or the National Central Bank of the country. For example German IBAN structure has been submitted to the SWIFT by Association of German Banks, whereas Belgium IBAN structure has been submitted to SWIFT by Belgian Bankers’ Association.

How to use IBAN and BIC in open account and cash in advance payments?

Exporter should identify his bank’s BIC code or swift address on the proforma invoice or sales contract along with his company’s official name, his bank’s name, his bank’s branch name. Exporter also should indicate his bank account number or IBAN number on the proforma invoice or sales contract as well. 

How to use IBAN and BIC in documentary collection payments?

In a documentary collection payment method the exporter should identify his bank details including his IBAN number and BIC code on the commercial invoice. 

How to use IBAN and BIC in documentary credits?
Issuing banks identify their BIC codes on the "message header" section of the MT 700 swift messages under the title of "Sender". Issuing banks also identify the advising banks' BIC codes on the same area under the title of "Receiver". Nominated banks' BIC codes are stated under the "field 41a: Available With ... By ...".

Issuing banks not always but sometimes identify beneficiaries IBAN numbers under the field of "57a: 'Advise Through' Bank".

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How to use IBAN and BIC in international payments? How to find a BIC code? How to verify an IBAN number? 
Business Identifier Code (BIC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) are two main “Payments Reference Data” definitions that you need to know regarding the international money transfers. Today I am going to describe these two terms in detail.

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Albania AL47 2121 1009 0000 0002 3569 8741
Andorra AD12 0001 2030 2003 5910 0100
Austria AT61 1904 3002 3457 3201
Azerbaijan AZ21 NABZ 0000 0000 1370 1000 1944
Bahrain BH67 BMAG 0000 1299 1234 56
Belgium BE68 5390 0754 7034
Bosnia BA39 1290 0794 0102 8494
Brazil BR97 0036 0305 0000 1000 9795 493P 1
Bulgaria BG80 BNBG 9661 1020 3456 78
Costa Rica CR05 1520 2001 0262 8406 6
Croatia HR12 1001 0051 8630 0016 0
Cyprus CY17 0020 0128 0000 0012 0052 7600
Czech Republic CZ94 5500 0000 0010 1103 8930 
Denmark DK50 0040 0440 1162 43
Dominic DO28 BAGR 0000 0001 2124 5361 1324
Estonia EE38 2200 2210 2014 5685
Finland FI21 1234 5600 0007 85
France FR14 2004 1010 0505 0001 3M02 606
Georgia GE29 NB00 0000 0101 9049 17
Germany DE89 3704 0044 0532 0130 00
Gibraltar GI75 NWBK 0000 0000 7099 453
Greece GR16 0110 1250 0000 0001 2300 695
Guatemala GT82 TRAJ 0102 0000 0012 1002 9690
Hungary HU42 1177 3016 1111 1018 0000 0000
Iceland IS14 0159 2600 7654 5510 7303 39
Ireland IE29 AIBK 9311 5212 3456 78
Israel IL62 0108 0000 0009 9999 999
Italy IT60 X054 2811 1010 0000 0123 456
Jordan JO94 CBJO 0010 0000 0000 0131 0003 02
Kazakhstan KZ86 125K ZT50 0410 0100
Kosovo XK05 1000 0000 0000 0053
Kuwait KW81 CBKU 0000 0000 0000 1234 5601 01
Latvia LV80 BANK 0000 4351 9500 1
Lebanon LB62 0999 0000 0001 0019 0122 9114
Liechtenstein LI21 0881 0000 2324 013A A
Lithuania LT12 1000 0111 0100 1000
Luxembourg LU28 0019 4006 4475 0000
Macedonia MK07 2501 2000 0058 984
Malta MT84 MALT 0110 0001 2345 MTLC AST0 01S
Mauritania MR13 0002 0001 0100 0012 3456 753
Mauritius MU17 BOMM 0101 1010 3030 0200 000M UR
Moldova MD24 AG00 0225 1000 1310 4168
Monaco MC58 11222 00001 0123456789030
Montenegro ME25 5050 0001 2345 6789 51
Netherlands NL91 ABNA 0417 1643 00
Norway NO93 8601 1117 947
Pakistan PK36 SCBL 0000 0011 2345 6702
Palestine PS92 PALS 0000 0000 0400 1234 5670 2
Poland PL61 1090 1014 0000 0712 1981 2874
Portugal PT50 0002 0123 1234 5678 9015 4
Romania RO49 AAAA 1B31 0075 9384 0000
Qatar QA58 DOHB 0000 1234 5678 90AB CDEF G
San Marino SM86 U032 2509 8000 0000 0270 100
Saudi Arabia SA03 8000 0000 6080 1016 7519
Serbia RS35 2600 0560 1001 6113 79
Slovak Republic SK31 1200 0000 1987 4263 7541
Slovenia SI56 2633 0001 2039 086
Spain ES91 2100 0418 4502 0005 1332
Sweden SE45 5000 0000 0583 9825 7466
Switzerland CH93 0076 2011 6238 5295 7
Timor-Leste TL38 0080 0123 4567 8910 157
Tunisia TN59 1000 6035 1835 9847 8831
Turkey TR33 0006 1005 1978 6457 8413 26
UAE AE07 0331 2345 6789 0123 456
United Kingdom GB29 NWBK 6016 1331 9268 19
Virgin Islands VG96 VPVG 0000 0123 4567 8901
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Whatever your payment method would be, cash in advance, open account, cash against documents, letter of credit or bank payment obligation, you need to supply your bank enough “payments reference data” in order to be your international payment completed correctly. 
Do you want to learn how to use the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the Business Identifier Code (BIC) when making your payments in international trade. Please have a look at above educational video, which was created by EPC.