What are IBAN and BIC: why are they important?

While IBAN and BIC may seem hidden to everyday users, they play a critical role in financial institutions dealing with money transfers. They facilitate trade and enable financial transactions across borders. Two essential elements that underpin these transactions are the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the Bank Identifier Code (BIC). This article delves into what these notions mean, why they are needed, and how they contribute to efficiency and reliability. 

What is IBAN? 

The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is a standardized alphanumeric code uniquely identifying bank accounts. It was introduced to streamline and simplify cross-border SEPA payments by providing a consistent format for identifying accounts across different countries. 

IBAN structure

The structure of the IBAN varies from country to country but typically consists of a country code, check digits, and the recipient’s domestic bank account number. Here’s the formula for constructing an IBAN:

  1. Start with the two-letter country code of the bank where the account is held (e.g., LT for Lithuania).
  2. Append two check digits calculated based on the country-specific algorithm and the rest of the IBAN.
  3. Is followed by the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN), which includes the bank code and the account number. The BBAN format varies from country to country.

For example, let’s consider a Lithuanian IBAN: 

Country code: LT 

Check digits: 47 

BBAN: 3300 0123 4567 8901

Putting it all together, the complete Lithuanian IBAN would be LT47 3300 0123 4567 8901.

The BBAN “3300 0123 4567 8901” contains the bank code (33000) and the account number (12345678901). Both the bank code and the account number consist of numeric characters.

The IBAN acts as a crucial identifier, ensuring accuracy and reducing the risk of errors in international transactions.

What is BIC? 

The Bank Identifier Code (BIC), or the SWIFT code, is a unique identification code assigned to financial institutions worldwide. It serves as a standardized means of identifying banks during international transactions. The BIC comprises a combination of letters or numbers representing specific details such as the bank, country, city, and branch. 

BIC structure

The BIC consists of 8 or 11 characters, representing various details about the bank. Here’s an explanation of the BIC format:

  1. The first four characters represent the bank code, indicating the financial institution.
  2. The following two characters represent the country code, identifying the country where the bank is located.
  3. The following two characters represent the location code, indicating the specific branch or office of the bank.
  4. If the BIC is 11 characters long, the last three characters (optional) represent the branch code, providing further details about the branch.

For example, let’s consider the BIC for a bank in Lithuania: 

Bank code: WIUA

Country code: LT 

Location code: 22

Branch code: XXX.

Putting it all together, the complete BIC would be WIUALT22XXX.

BICs facilitate the secure routing of payments between financial institutions, ensuring they reach the intended recipients efficiently.

The Importance of IBAN and BIC:

Accuracy and Reliability

IBANs and BICs provide precise and standardized information about the recipient’s bank account and financial institution. The latter uses them to verify the accuracy of account details and ensure funds are transferred to the correct destination. In case you need to check the recipient’s IBAN with IBAN validator tools.

Facilitating Cross-Border Payments

The development of SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) and the establishment of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) zones have collectively revolutionized cross-border payments greatly facilitated cross-border payments, enabling seamless and efficient transactions within the Eurozone and worldwide, simplifying processes, and promoting economic integration. Thus, IBANs and BICs are essential for allowing efficient routing of funds and ensuring timely and accurate delivery of payments to recipients.

Compliance with Regulatory Requirements

IBANs and BICs help financial institutions comply with regulatory frameworks, such as anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. In addition, these codes provide standardized information that facilitates transparency and traceability in international transactions, contributing to enhanced security and regulatory compliance.

Enhancing Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness

The use of IBANs and BICs streamlines payment processes, reducing manual intervention and associated costs. In addition, financial institutions can automate payment routing and reconciliation by adopting standardized identification codes, resulting in faster, more efficient, and cost-effective international payments.


 The widespread adoption of IBAN and BIC has significantly improved international payments and how we run businesses. As a result, we got smooth and secure international transactions, paving the way for global trade, collaboration, and economic growth in our interconnected world. 

About the Author:

Ben Adam is a dedicated in-house copywriter at Wittix, a leading money transfer services company. With a passion for crafting compelling content and respect for clients, Ben has been creating engaging and informative articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights into finance, money transfer, and related topics.

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