Banks throughout Europe all use a standard format for International Bank Account Numbers (IBANS) and Bank Identifier Codes (BICs). So when you’re making or receiving payments across Europe, it makes the process quicker, safer and more efficient.

1. Payments to and from Europe

You’ll need to use both International Bank Account Numbers (IBANS) and Bank Identifier Codes (BICs) to make payments to and from Europe.

To receive a payment from elsewhere in Europe, you’ll need to give the payer your own BIC and IBAN. To send a payment, you’ll need to know theirs.

You can find your BIC and IBAN on your bank account statement. They both consist of numbers and letters.


A BIC is a way of identifying a bank branch.

  • Bank code (4 characters): BOFS
  • Country code (2 characters): GB
  • Location code (2 characters): XX
  • Branch code (3 characters): XXX


An IBAN is specific to a country, so character length can vary. For example, French IBANs always have 20 characters.

  • Austria: AT123456789101112131
  • France: FR123456789101112131
  • Germany: DE123456789101112131
  • Ireland: IE291234567891011121

2. Payments outside of Europe

You may need to use an IBAN when making or receiving payments outside of Europe, but you won’t usually need a BIC.

Payment Purpose Codes are used by some banks in foreign countries to identify why payments are being made. They’re becoming more common, but are particularly required for payments to and from countries such as China and Jordan.

Read our guidance to find out more about making and receiving payments in Chinese Renminbi.

Keep your accounts protected

Only share your BIC and IBAN with someone who’s making a payment to you. Never give out any other confidential details, such as your PIN or memorable information.


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