What is an IBAN and how does it work?

3 minutes reading

eduardo SEO Specialist and content production, I have worked in several renowned companies in Brazil and abroad. I write about money, technology and more!
iban number

If you plan to send or receive money from one country to another, you might need an IBAN — International Bank Account Number. But what is an IBAN? In a few words, it condenses a couple of digits containing all the information your bank asks to ensure that any international payment arrives safely at its final destination. The format is always the same for each country that uses it, while the number of digits varies.

In this article, you will learn more about IBAN and how to identify it before you manage your next international remittance. Check it out!

What is an IBAN? 

IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It’s a unique identifier that the banks use to recognize transfers from one country to another and ensure their arrival at the destined account. Whenever you want to send money to someone in Brazil, you need information, such as the CPF, agency, account number, or the Pix key, right?

The same goes for international transactions. Specific data is required to complete the process, which includes the IBAN code. Before the creation of this standard in 1997, entrepreneurs and companies dealt with different formats from different banks worldwide. Operations were confusing and often led to errors or payment delays. 

At first, the IBAN came to simplify how people send and receive the money within European countries. Over time, banks beyond the EU (such as Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Middle East) followed the same path. Even without nations like the USA, Canada, China, and others, all these countries recognize the system.

In 2013, the Central Bank of Brazil published Circular Nº 3,625, which regulates the use of the IBAN as an identification standard for international transfers. Since then, financial institutions must provide it to their customers, as well as be able to receive overseas transfers using the International Bank Account Number.

What does an IBAN look like?

Now that you know what an IBAN is, the next step is to dive into how it looks. This code follows a standard format that consists of up to 34 digits — numbers and letters — which helps overseas banks identify your account to send or receive international payments. The order presented may vary by country, but, in general, the IBAN includes

  • Country code: where the account is;
  • Two check digits: to enable the bank to run an integrity check of the IBAN;  
  • Bank identifier code: to identify the account holder’s bank;
  • Agency or Branch code;
  • Account number.

The last three data (bank identifier code, agency, and account number) represent the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN). Financial institutions use them to locate a specific bank. This is the standard format for every country, although the number of digits (including numbers and letters) can be different by a maximum of 34.


In Brazil, the IBAN consists of 29 characters. The pattern is always the same except for the bank, agency, and account number. When it comes to numbers, a practical example is the easiest way to explain them. So let’s see how it would look with a Brazilian International Bank Account Number.

BR 18 12345678 22202 0000000008 C 2

The first two elements correspond to the country code (BR). Then you will find the check digits, which can be from 02 to 98. In the example above, it’s 18. Next in line are eight numeric characters that identify the financial institution (12345678). The branch code comes as five numbers, excluding the verification digital (22202). Lastly, it’s the account number with the verification digital, which gives us ten numbers (0000000008). 

To complete the IBAN with our fictitious example, you will find an alphanumeric character referring to the account type (C) and another related to the account holder (2). Whenever you want to manage an international payment from countries that use this standard, you need to have it in your hands to proceed. Let’s take a look at a few more fictitious examples from other countries:

Costa RicaCR4003827623383751171

Why do you need an IBAN?

Before the creation of the IBAN, whoever needed to deal with international transfers across different countries could run the risk of errors. Payments would end up in the wrong account, which costs time and money.

As a result of multiple nations operating within the same system, this issue was reduced, and the process turned out to be a little bit easier for people to send and receive payments. It serves three purposes:

  • Banks can quickly recognize financial institutions from other countries;
  • The money safely reaches the account number it is destined to;
  • IBAN works as a double-check to ensure a successful transfer.

How can you check an IBAN?

If you don’t know your IBAN, you can ask your bank manager or look into it through your Internet Banking or bank statement. While receiving an international payment, the sender may need your code to complete the transaction. Another way around, when you’re the one sending money to another country, you should ask the recipient to confirm the code. 

You can also check it online through one of the online IBAN calculators available. However, you need additional information to use the system, such as a branch code and an account number. Not to mention that relying on your bank or asking the beneficiary (employees, friends, or family) is always the safest option. 

So what is an IBAN? If you came all the way here, you already know this code affects international payments, and now you can recognize it too. Plus, you have Husky to help you with a multi-currency account to send and receive money — whether you manage a single transfer or high volumes. We are part of entrepreneurs’ and companies’ daily lives who look for an easy way to automate their financial routines. Join the crowd and pay with Husky!

eduardo SEO Specialist and content production, I have worked in several renowned companies in Brazil and abroad. I write about money, technology and more!

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