Is IBAN enough for an international transfer?

My son, who lives in China (Macao) but has spent the last 6 years or so working in Bangkok, is coming with his 2 kids to stay in our village this Christmas.

He is renting the house of our friends who have a 2nd home here and tried to transfer the money from his UK bank to their French one but for some reason it did not work. He says there were too many numbers in the ‘account number’ and he didn’t have a sort code.

One suggestion is that he transfer it to our bank here but when I checked, not only do we not have a sort code, but our IBAN number is the same as our friends (apart from the account no. of course) in that it is 27 digits in length.

Can anybody spot the difficulty here? Is an IBAN all he should need? And is a sort code just a UK thing because we do have one for our UK account?

I don’t want to get into currency transfers myself if I can help it but he would and could pay sterling into our UK one for me to do a transfer if all else fails.

Sometimes the Swift/Bic codes are needed too

So where do I find those, there is nothing of that nature on my RIB slip?

I think only the IBAN is required but maybe some banking apps may want a BIC (Bank Identifier Code) too. You’ll find it on your statement beside your IBAN I’d guess.

You son needs to ask the recipients for their IBAN and their BIC and it should go through. BTW, whenever I transfer significant sums to an account for the first time I always send a small sum first, say €10 to make sure I’ve set up the payee correctly :slightly_smiling_face:

Sort codes are Branch Identifier Codes, I don’t know if they are used anywhere other than UK and Ireland and it’s the BIC that matters internationally.

I should’ve added the BIC is generally an eight character code, for example this is HSBC France… “CCFRFRPP”

The BIC should be there, for example my CA one is AGRIFRPP### (dont think there’s anything confidential there🙄)

You might want blank out the last 3 characters as they do indicate CA regional area.

The IBAN includes the equivalent of the sort code within it and if you look closely there’s a correlation with the BIC/SWIFT code too. It’s all there it’s not 27 characters or whatever it is for nothing.

I’ve always guessed any bank wanting the BIC/SWIFT when they’ve had the IBAN can only want it to double check it against the IBAN for keying errors etc.


I think, like me, you bank with la banque postale, right? In which case it starts “PSSTFRPPxxx”. The last three letters will vary depending upon which processing centre you’re registered with.

I just checked my RIB and it’s to the right of the IBAN. If you have the app on your phone you can also display it too.

It’s another of these things, like IBAN discrimination, that they’re not actually allowed to ask for anymore but do anyway at times. Banks particularly should only use the IBAN, the BIC is all but redundant in 99% of cases so shouldn’t be asked for as it just makes things more complicated for the consumer when it’s quite enough dealing with the ridiculous length of some countries IBANs. I suspect that as with the IBAN discrimination much of the reason they’re still in existence is that old systems are hardwired to require both and businesses are too cheap/ scared to start messing about with them to remove the need for the BIC field. But the likes of SWIFT have said they should no longer be used.

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Just spotted it, the description is greyed out. The BIC is 11 letters. I’ll have to ask our friends to look for, and give us that too so I can pass it on to my son. Thanks all, and I’ll warn my son of what has been said about it.


Sort / account codes are a UK thing.
IBAN is the global standard used with BIC as everyone mentions.
However, I highly recommend WISE for money transfer, it’s very fast, much cheaper than your bank, and safe.
Simple to use and works in all currencies in all countries.
No need to stress about sending money with their App.

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Me too! Yes it would mean the folks at both ends of the transaction opening a Wise account but it’s pretty easy, and a very useful thing to have if you do need to move currencies about from time to time.

It would makes things easier when they are in France as well.

@ChrisMann - I believe on the person transferring the funds needs WISE account as the recipient gets the money direct to their bank. Not into a WISE account.
That’s how it works for me.

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Yes, but he would not want to set up a Wise account (and it isn’t as easy as some think, I know from experience) just to make one transfer. I use TorFX because they weren’t so picky about the quality of my ID photos and I am perfectly happy with them.

My son has continued to run into difficulties with his bank HSBC, wanting sort codes etc. that it has been decided that he transfer a sterling rate that I give him from TorFX to my UK account and then I will use TorFX to transfer to my account here so I can make the house payment on his behalf by cheque in euros.

I will oversetimate the rate to cover movements between the 2 transfers and give him the ‘change’ in euros when he arrives.

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Just a thought… for any future transactions…

If you send a RIB (relevé d’identité bancaire) to your son… that gives every detail possible to identify your bank and your account to successfully receive funds…
Then his bank HSBC can take whatever information they require from your RIB… :+1:

Yes, I did send him all the details demanded from our friends RIB, but from what he says the info on that is not sufficient for HSBC, they still demand a sort code (which is why my son can’t transfer to our French account either) and they say the account number is too long. It sounds as if they are confusing the 27 digit IBAN code for an account number rather that it being contained within it.

Anyway he can transfer sterling to our UK account and then I will use TorFX to transfer it to euros into our French one. Then I can pay the house rent in hand by cheque. And have to do it before they return home next Tuesday because setting up a virement between our 2 French accounts is too long winded for one transaction.

sounds very odd… if they’ve already turned-down info you given from one RIB… :frowning:
The RIB truly does hold all the necessary information… perhaps they need to see the document itself … then there is no area of misunderstanding… :wink:

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It’s very confusing as, as you say David, it seems like they’re confusing him wanting to make an international transfer with thinking he wants to make a domestic one, which is, if not day one, then certainly day two of induction training if you work for a bank :joy: Very odd, I wonder whether there’s a language issue or something and they’re not understanding what he’s actually wanting. Almost all GB accounts have an IBAN, the banks just don’t tell you as 99.9% (not factually accurate :joy:) of transactions are obviously domestic ones so they use the account number, but you could/ should be able to use the IBAN even then to do GBP to GBP if you wanted to, so it beggars belief that they don’t actually know about it, which makes me wonder if it’s understanding instead. Not that it matters either way if you’ve found a solution, it’s just interesting!

David I just logged on to my HSBC UK website and tried to initiate a transfer to a payee in France, it doesn’t ask for a branch code, or indeed a BIC and when I put in an IBAN it correctly found the receiving bank.