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IBAN in France: Format, Use and How to Get One

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The IBAN, or International Bank Account Number, is a international norm used to identify a bank account. IBANs are essential if you want to transfer money to and from France, between your accounts or towards someone else's . This guide is here to present the French IBAN, and shed light on its format, with examples.

  • To sum things up
  • Each IBAN is unique and linked to one bank account.
  • Each country has its own IBAN format - the French one has 27 characters.
  • International Bank Account Numbers are used to facilitate transactions between accounts beyond borders.

IBAN: what is it and where can I find it?

Being able to find and understand your IBAN is important - find out how to do just that below.

What is an IBAN?

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IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. It is a series of letters and digits, which are used to identify an account and the bank establishment it is associated to.

Each IBAN is unique and specific to one bank account - meaning that your checking and savings accounts will both have different IBANs, even if they were set up together and with the same bank. It is important to know your IBAN in order to quickly and easily identify your bank account, on the condition that you know where to find it.

Where can I find my IBAN?

You will find your IBAN on your Bank Identity Statement, which is known in France as your Relevé d'Identité Bancaire or, more commonly, RIB.

Your RIB is available on your online banking account (app or website) or on any of your cheque books. It is recommended that you print a couple of copies of your RIB, which you can do from your online account, or even take a screenshot of it which you keep on your phone. Your French bank should also be able to provide you paper copies of this statement, free of charge. Note that it is different to the series of numbers that appear on your French bank card.

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What is the IBAN format?

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There is no international standard IBAN format, as an IBAN's length and characters will vary from one country to another.

Typically though, an IBAN will have between 14 and 34 characters - in France, the format is of 27 letters and numbers. With the IBAN format for France, digits will be presented as such:

FRXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXX

Here is what the characters mean:

  • The 2 first characters are letters, which correspond to the country code of your bank account - FR for France.
  • The second 2 characters are numbers, which correspond to a control key - this is generally 76 in France.
  • The next 23 characters form a unique series of numbers which make up what is known as your Basic Bank Account Number (or BBAN). More specifically, out of these 23 digits, the 5 first are your Bank code (code banque), the 8 next are your Branch code (code guichet), the 11 next are your Bank account number and the last 2 are known as your RIB key (clé RIB).

It is interesting to note that, on your Bank Identity Statements in France, you may find your bank account written in the national French banking format and the IBAN format.

The first format is simply the last 23 numbers of the IBAN, as it only includes information about the domestic bank and account number, whereas the IBAN, with the additional country code and check key, is SEPA-friendly, thus allowing you to make transactions seamlessly throughout the EU.

What is an IBAN used for?

IBANs are essential to operate money transfers or SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) withdrawals. You thus need this number readily available during such activities.

Since 2016, the SEPA norm allows you to use the IBAN and only the IBAN (and not the RIB and the BIC in addition) for certains transfers both national and transnational. This norm was put in place in order to make everyday transactions easier and quicker, especially for expats, international students or people often travelling between countries for business or leisure.

Examples of IBAN numbers

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Below is a list of several IBAN France examples, which correspond to IBAN by bank:

  • AXA Banque: FR76 1254 8029 9898 7654 3210 917
  • BNP Paribas : FR76 3000 4028 3798 7654 3210 943
  • La Banque Postale : FR76 2004 1010 1698 7654 3210 921
  • Société Générale : FR76 3000 3035 4098 7654 3210 925

In fact, within each French bank, all IBANs begin with the same 9 characters, that is the digits FR76 + the bank's Bank code, as detailed below:

IBANs per bank in France
Name of the bank The IBAN begins with
Société Générale FR76 30003
HSBC France FR76 30056
BNP Paribas FR76 30004
Crédit du Nord FR76 30076
Crédit Agricole S.A. FR76 30006
BNP Paribas FR76 30004
Axa Banque FR76 12548
La Banque Postale FR76 20041
Crédit Lyonnais FR76 30002

In comparison, here is a sample of IBANs from other European countries:

  • Italian IBAN, with 27 characters: IT56 0123 4567 8901 2345 6789 123
  • Belgian IBAN, with 16 characters: BE01 2345 6789 6789
  • German IBAN, with 22 characters: DE58 0123 4567 8923 4567 89
  • British IBAN, also with 22 characters: GB69 0123 4567 8923 4567 89
  • Spanish IBAN, with 24 characters: ES47 0123 4567 8901 2345 6789

IBAN vs BIC: what's the difference?

Both of these bank-related numbers serve specific purposes and have different formats. We now know what an IBAN looks like and is used for, but how about a BIC?

The BIC, or "Bank Identifier Code" is a code that identifies your banking establishment and location. It is also sometimes known as SWIFT (Society for worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). Its format for France is comprised of either 8 or 11 letters, with the 4 first letters corresponding to your bank's own shortcode. For instance, a BIC for an account at the Société Générale will start with SOGE, whereas a BIC for French HSBC accounts will start with CCFR. So whereas the IBAN identifies your personal account, the BIC identifies the bank with which you set up the said account.

An IBAN and a BIC thus give different types of information about your banking details. The IBAN is a longer number and will start with FR76, so if you keep this in mind you will be able to always differentiate both codes with ease.

IBANs in France: FAQ

I have more than one bank account, does that mean I have several IBANs?

Yes - each bank account has one unique IBAN, even if you have multiple accounts in one same bank in France.

What types of payments can I make / receive with an IBAN?

Your IBAN will allow you to make the following national and international payments:

  • Making fund transfers to a French bank account
  • Making payments to another account in a country that has adopted IBAN
  • Receiving fund transfers from a French bank account
  • Receiving fund transfers from an account in a country that has adopted IBAN

Which countries have complied to the IBAN system?

68 international countries in total have adopted the system. You can find the complete list of the countries applying the IBAN norm here.

How can I calculate an IBAN?

If you know an account number but not the IBAN attached with it, you can use an online IBAN calculator, which are plentiful online. By typing in the account's digit, the website will find you the IBAN in a matter of seconds.