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Is IBAN applicable in the US?

IBAN is the word used for an International Bank Account Number, and it is a number that is used to make a wire transfer into a foreign bank account from the United States. As well as the IBAN number itself, you’ll also need the bank account number of the individual in question if you want to send a payment to them. 

Does IBAN work in the US? 

Although IBAN payments can’t be sent between banks in the US or from a bank outside the US to one inside the country, they can be used to make a payment to a bank in another country. The details of the IBAN number are such that they make it possible for the body that is transferring the money to identify the country of residence, the banking institution, and the actual bank account of the individual in question. Although IBAN numbers work for many countries, you should note that some opt for a system that uses SWIFT numbers or SEPA instead.

How to use IBAN in the US

Even though the bulk of banking now takes place via digital platforms, some financial institutions still insist on a customer paying a visit to the branch in person to set up an IBAN payment (although many offer an online alternative). In both cases, the process begins with filling in the bank details. These will include:

  • The sender’s name

  • The sender’s American bank account details

  • The recipient’s name and address

  • The recipient’s bank account number

Having provided this information, the sender will then be able to find the relevant IBAN number on the recipient’s bank’s website. An IBAN number can be broken down in the following way:

  • A two letter code that identifies the country in which the bank account is located

  • Two check digits

  • A Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN), which can be as many as 30 digits long.

The format of the BBAN varies from country to country to align with the standard that is used for national payments.  An IBAN number needed to transfer money from a US bank account to one in Germany would be set out as follows:

DE91 1111 1111 01234567 89 

Having sourced the IBAN number, the sender then needs to enter the amount they wish to send in the currency used by the recipient’s bank. For many banks in Europe, for example, the amount will need to be entered in euros rather than dollars. In some cases, the transfer currency will be specified alongside the IBAN number, while in others the bank may offer a number of currency options. In all cases, senders are advised to check and double-check the correct currency to use, as well as the right amount to transfer when exchange rates are taken into account, before completing the transfer.

The cost of making an IBAN transfer

In most cases the American bank from which the IBAN payment is being made will charge a standard fee for providing the service, along with a commission based on the amount being transferred. The recipient may also have to pay a fee charged by the receiving bank.

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