Author: Colleen

The topic of today’s post is prompted by a recurring issue that, go figure, is plaguing one of our client’s today.  An efficient means of procuring your property is by bank transfer–it helps you avoid:

– carrying massive sums of cash around

– waiting for non-UK bank checks (‘cheques’) or traveller’s cheques denominated in a currency other than GBP to clear (which can take several days if not weeks), or

– incurring 3-5% charges for using a credit card.

However, when it comes to instructing your home nation’s bank to transfer funds to a UK bank account, you will always have to provide 4 CODES for that UK bank account:

1)  Account number– Clearly labelled on your cheque, this is the number that identifies your specific UK bank account, just like at home.

2)  Sort code – Also labelled on your cheque and familiar from home, the sort code is that which identifies your UK bank’s specific branch.

3)  IBAN – This is where we get into unfamiliar territory.  ‘IBAN’ is an acronym for International Bank Account Number.  Basically, it’s an extension of your personal UK account number that you use for making international payments.

4)  SWIFT/BIC Code – ‘BIC’ stands for Bank Identifier Code, which is an international standard for identifying your UK bank.  And, if you must know, ‘SWIFT’ is an acronym for the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the organisation that deals with the registration of SWIFT/BIC codes.

How do I find out my UK bank account’s IBAN and SWIFT codes?

Both of these codes should be listed within the documentation you receive from your UK bank once you set up your account as well as subsequent monthly statements.  Be sure to keep this paperwork filed away where you can readily access it whenever needed.  If you are unable to locate it, you may also obtain it by phoning your local bank branch or perhaps consulting its website.  Barclay’s, for instance, provides its SWIFT code directly on its site, along with additional IBAN information.

What is REALLY IMPORTANT to know is that, for whatever reason, some non-UK bank employees are apparently just as confused by IBAN and SWIFT codes as their clients.  You would think they’ve never had to do an international transfer before.  Okay, this doesn’t apply to all bank employees, but we’ve seen it enough where these codes are mistyped or misplaced in their data entry, so, for your sake, be meticulous on your end when transmitting this information and make certain they have the exact numbers and can show you evidence of what they have entered on your behalf for the transfer.  It will help save a lot of headache on the other end when a UK bank may otherwise not receive the funds as scheduled, which could mean you lose your flat!  So be prepared with your codes, be detail-oriented with them, be clear and assertive when communicating them to your home bank.

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