What is a sort code?
When you open a British or Irish bank account, you’ll receive a sort code. What is a sort code? It’s a 6-digit number that’s used to identify your bank. UK sort codes are split into 2 parts, as are those in Ireland. The first 2 digits refer to your bank, and the last 4 identify the specific branch where you opened your account.
What is a sort code for?
Sort codes are a system for enabling money transfers between individuals and banks. The 6-digit system evolved from a 1-digit system as transactions increased in volume globally. Previously, customers would make their purchases via cheques, which merchants would then take to the bank. The sort code developed as a way for banks to authenticate where those cheques came from.
In some ways, your sort code is even more important than your account number. If you enter an incorrect sort code when making a transfer, your money may end up at the wrong branch, or even at a different bank entirely. Whereas if you make a mistake with the account number but use the right sort code, your money will at least make it to the correct branch, potentially making the error easier to resolve.
Only customers in the UK and Ireland are issued sort codes. In other countries, sort codes have been replaced by the IBAN, or International Bank Account Number. If you're ever asked for your IBAN – say, for example, someone wants to transfer money from their international account to your British or Irish one – you can easily find this out using an IBAN calculator.
How can you find your sort code?
Finding your bank sort code should be easy. Most banks print it on the majority of their correspondence with you, and you'll also find it printed on your debit card. If you don't have your card or a bank statement to hand, you can easily confirm your sort code by logging in to your online banking account.
What if you’re looking for someone else’s sort code? You'll need to ask them for both their sort code and account number if you want to send them money. However, if you already know the person’s IBAN, you can use an online IBAN calculator to find out their sort code. You can double-check that you have the right sort code by using a sort code checker.
Can I give out my sort code?
Yes, it’s completely safe to give out your sort code. In fact, you'll need to share it with anyone who wants to transfer money into your account. If someone knows your sort code, this doesn’t allow them to access your account or steal money from you.
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