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Find out more about International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN)

What is IBAN?

The international bank account number (IBAN) is the internationally accepted ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 13616-1 standard 1_/ numbering system to identify bank accounts. The IBAN provides an unique account number for each customer account, which allows sending and receiving banks to validate the accuracy of the beneficiary IBAN.

The IBAN was introduced to standardise the identification of bank accounts. It is essential to understand the following points regarding the IBAN:

Implementing the IBAN system will help improve the quality of information exchanged between banks, either within Bahrain or internationally. Its reliability and accuracy will help to reduce errors and delays in transaction processing.

IBAN usage in Bahrain

As directed by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), with effect from 31 January 2012, the IBAN shall be used by banks and their customers for electronic payments which take place between banks. These include:

a) Domestic electronic payments to and from customer accounts of banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain

b) Cross-border outgoing electronic payments from customer accounts of banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain to customer accounts of banks/financial institutions in 'Countries that have adopted IBAN' where the use of IBAN is mandatory

c) Cross-border incoming electronic payments to customer accounts of banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain from customer accounts of banks/financial institutions in 'Countries that have adopted IBAN' as well as 'Countries that have not adopted IBAN'

Advantages of the IBAN in electronic funds transfers

The structure of account numbering methods and number formats of each country and each bank are different and this leads to errors and delays in the completion of funds transfers. As business and financial transfers are increasing globally, the need has risen to develop IBAN for transfer of funds in domestic and foreign currencies.

Usage of IBAN

Assume that Customer 2 will make a money transfer to Customer 1

Usage of IBAN

1) Customer 1 gets the IBAN that corresponds to his account number(s) from his bank (Bank 1)

2) Customer 1 provides the IBAN of his account to Customer 2

3) Customer 2 requests her or his bank (Bank 2) to transfer funds using the IBAN of Customer 1

4) Bank 2 checks if the IBAN of Customer 1 is correct by validating the IBAN. Transfer continues only if the IBAN is valid

The transfer is executed with validated (correct) IBAN, hence, the account of Customer 1 will be credited faster and easier when the transfer message is received by Bank 1.

IBAN structure

The IBAN is unique for each account and is made up of a combination of numbers and letters. Thus, every account will have a corresponding IBAN, and every IBAN designates one account.

The first four digits of the IBAN include two digits for country code and two check digits (to verify the validity of the IBAN). The remaining part of the IBAN includes the national account number, (referred to as Basic Bank Account Number - BBAN).

The Bahrain IBAN is a combination of 22 alphanumeric characters and is structured as follows:

BH XX BBME 00123123456001
Country code (two digits) in ISO format, to identify the account holding country. For Bahrain based accounts, it is BH Check digit (two digits), enables validation of IBAN Bank identifier code (four characters) to identify the bank where the IBAN is held. For HBME Bahrain, it is BBME Account number (14 digits), to identify the credit account (two leading zeros will be added to your existing 12-digit HSBC account number)

Presentation of IBAN

The IBAN shall be represented in the following two formats:

a) Electronic format

The IBAN shall be presented in the form of a continuous string of characters in electronic payment messages. Example: BHXXBBME00001006261001

b) Print format

When the IBAN is printed or written on paper, it is written from left to right in groups of four characters separated with spaces. Paper representation of the IBAN: BHXX BBME 0000 1006 2610 01

Where do I get my IBAN for my HSBC accounts?

We will communicate the IBAN(s) that corresponds to your accounts though your regular statements. If you wish to know your IBAN ahead of this, you may generate the IBAN through the IBAN Generator tool on our website (

Can you help me obtain the IBAN for my account number with another bank?

HSBC Bank Middle East Limited - Bahrain, is unable to provide the IBAN for accounts held with another bank and advises you to approach the respective bank for assistance.

What happens if I don't quote the IBAN of the beneficiary while initiating a payment?

With effect from 31 January 2012, funds transfer requests to banks within Bahrain/other IBAN-enabled countries without beneficiary IBAN will be rejected. This is applicable for all instructions that have been created with value date on or after 31 January 2011.

What happens if the IBAN is not quoted when receiving payments?

With effect from 31 January 2012, all inward payment instructions to HSBC Bahrain that do not contain beneficiary IBAN could be rejected.

Do my overseas remitters need to quote my IBAN?

Yes, you should request your customers to make payments to your IBAN account number. If you issue invoices, you should quote the IBAN on the invoices too.

Do we need to quote the IBAN for inter-account transfers (payments within HSBC)?

Where both the debit and credit accounts are with HSBC Bahrain, you can continue to provide the standard HSBC bank account number.

I use electronic delivery channels (ie Personal Internet Banking, Business Internet Banking, HSBCnet, HSBC Connect, SWIFTNet); do I need to use the IBAN when initiating electronic payments to Bahrain banks?

Yes, please ensure that you provide a valid IBAN at the time of initiating the payment instruction to ensure that your beneficiary gets the credit on time.

I have standing instructions loaded with HSBC for periodic payments; do I need to give revised instructions with the IBAN?

Yes, if you currently have standing instructions set up, you must advise HSBC of the IBAN for your non-HSBC beneficiaries by submitting an amendment request using Standing Instruction (Transfer of Funds) form. You may find a copy of the form on the internet or pick up the form from the nearest HSBC branch. We advise you to do this well in advance of 31 January 2012, to ensure our systems are updated in time to avoid payment delays or rejections.

What if I give an instruction over the counter at a branch, do I still need to provide the IBAN of the beneficiary?

Yes, please ensure that you provide the IBAN to avoid delays in processing the payments.

I receive monthly payments into my account from my creditors/employers; what instructions do I need to give them?

Please provide your IBAN to your creditors/employer, to ensure timely receipt of funds into your account.

We are currently forwarding bulk salary payments (autoPay) instructions via diskette/paper; will this impact us?

Yes, you will need to provide the IBAN to your non-HSBC beneficiaries. This will have an impact on the process you follow today and we shall advise you of the changes soon.
HSBC encourages you to use our eChannel – HSBCnet, for an efficient and seamless payments service. To find out more, please contact your relationship manager.

Is there any service charge if we fail to provide the IBAN at the time of making payment requests? Will there be any charge should the remitter fail to incorporate my IBAN at the time of making payments?

For the time being, there will not be any additional charges, other than the normal transaction processing fee. Should this change, HSBC will communicate the tariff changes to you.