Bank Codes Explained: Sort Code and Account Number

Get to know your bank account: sort code and account number

If you prefer to keep your money anywhere other than sewn into your pillowcase, opening a bank account is a good place to start. When you open a bank account in the UK, your bank will provide you with a set of bank codes, called the sort code and account number. These two strings of numbers allow money to be transferred into your account and serve as the very foundation of your bank account. If you have ever wondered what’s the purpose behind sort code and account number and where to find them – we have got you covered.

What is a sort code?

A sort code or branch sort code is a number that identifies the branch of your bank. Typically, they are six digits in length and are divided into two pairs. The first two digits refer to the bank (e.g., 20 for Barclays) and the last four digits identify the particular branch where you opened the account.

A sort code, also known as a bank code, is a six-digit identifier, which British and Irish banks are using to route money transfers between banks. The sort code identifies the branch of the sending bank where the payment originated, and provides helpful routing information to the destination branch of the receiving bank.

  • For Barclays Bank Plc, the sort code will look like 20-45-23.

Where can I find my sort code?

You can find a 6-digit sort code on the bank card, bank statements, or on the account overview page of the online banking site or app.

What is an account number?

A bank account number helps to identify your current account or savings account. Generally, you use the account number together with the sort code, as payment details for receiving the transfer. If a person has several bank accounts, such as business, personal, or joint, the account numbers will be different for each account.

A bank account number identifies a specific bank account held by a bank, credit union or building society.

  • In the UK, an account number typically contains 8 digits. Some banks have shorter account numbers (e.g. 7 digits). You can add the number ‘0’ in front to complete 8 digits (when filling out forms).

The first four numbers identify the geographic location of the bank (or building society) where you opened your account. The last four digits identify your individual account at that financial institution.

Where can I find my account number?

You can find your account number on bank statements and online banking sites or apps. Some banks also print the account number on the bank card. However, the account number should not be confused with the 16-digit card number. Card issuers usually place them in the middle of the bank card.


Knowing your bank information

It’s very important to be aware of your banking information. Many people may wonder if it is possible for someone to set up a direct debit by just using the account number and sort code – the answer is no. You can safely give out your sort code and account number to receive payments from the employer, customers, family, etc. However, stay away from sharing your bank details with unknown people. Furthermore, you should avoid sharing your banking details, such as:

  • passwords
  • PINs
  • CVV (3-digit code, placed on the right side of the signature strip)
  • card expiry date.

If you would like to know how to set a mighty password and credit card PIN, make sure to check out our tips.

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