Account number? Routing number? SWIFT? Help! What they all mean and what you need to know


Figuring out the banking specifics when it comes to international wire transfers is always a bit of a challenge. Especially when you've just opened your own bank account or are completely new to the world of receiving payments from abroad!

By request, most banks will be very happy to provide you written instructions if you explain that you need to receive wire transfers from abroad, in USD currency. We strongly recommend that you obtain them, because your payment relies on correct details being entered.

But what do all these words mean? Here's the basic lowdown.


Account number

Your account number is what identifies the bank account as belonging to you, much like date of birth and your full name confirms your identity in other places. It's sort of like a fingerprint that identifies the account as yours. 


Routing/sort number

Your sort, or routing number, accompanies your account number to help banks track where your payment is leaving from, and where it is headed. 



The IBAN, or international bank account number, is much like an account number. The difference is that it contains more data for validation between banks. 



The SWIFT code (standardized Business Identifier Code - BIC) has been adopted by most banks worldwide to help them identify each other and share information. Use of this code helps banks worldwide to initiate, receive, and track payments between each other.


If I don't know my SWIFT code, where can I find it?

The best bet is always to contact your bank, so that you can confirm all of the details you need in order to receive wire transfers from abroad. You can also look up your SWIFT code online. The international payout provider Wise, for example, offers the opportunity to look it up:


Wise - Check or find a SWIFT code


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