What is IBAN?

IBAN is an acronym for International Bank Account Number. The move to introduce IBAN is a step towards creating one unique standard for numbering customer accounts at banks.

IBAN will not replace existing customer account numbers. Instead, it will present existing account numbers in a standardized IBAN format, (which could be validated by banks, irrespective of the core account number format contained within), facilitating straight through processing (STP).

It is a standard way of uniquely identifying any bank account in any of the IBAN participating countries. The standard is defined in ISO 13616. The registration Authority for IBAN is SWIFT
An IBAN consists of:

  • The 2 digit Alpha ISO 3166-1 country code (QA for Qatar)
  • 2 check digits calculated according to ISO standard
  • The unique identification of the Bank (UNIL for United Bank Ltd.)
  • 12 digits account number including branch code
  • The length of the IBAN in Qatar is fixed to 29 characters

What's the benefit of IBAN?

IBANs facilitate cross border payments (in particular) by having a common way to identify the country, bank, branch and account number of the beneficiary without having to know anything about the local clearing system. For example in the UK you need to know the 6 digit branch sort code, in Australia it’s the BSB, in the US it’s the ABA. But until the latter 2 countries join IBAN, you’re still going to need to know the local clearing codes. But if you want to pay someone in Mauritania or France, all you need is the beneficiary’s IBAN.

IBANs can also facilitate local payments, by ensuring beneficiary account numbers are in a machine readable format and they are protected against error by the strong check digit algorithm

Why is Qatar going with IBAN?

Because of the above benefits and also because many regional countries are already in IBAN - Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia

Who's on IBAN already?

There are 62 countries currently on IBAN.

What is the format of Qatar's IBAN?

We will have a 29-digit IBAN in the format:

QAcc bbbb nnnn nnnn nsss ssss ssss

  • QA is the country code for Qatar
  • cc is the 2 digit check number
  • bbbb is the Bank identifier – SWIFT code
  • n is the 9 digits, added left with zeros if the account number is less than 21 characters
  • S is the 12 digit account number

Example: For the UBL account number 1929-010-3348-1 the IBAN would be something like QA47UNIL000000000192901033481

How should the IBAN be written?

In its human readable form, the IBAN is represented by blocks of 4 characters, from the left:

QA47   UNIL   0000   0000   0192   9010   3348    1

This works well for our account numbers since the 3rd and 4th blocks will always be four zeros and the 5th block will always be our four digit branch code starting with ZERO. In machine readable form, the IBAN is always a single string of characters: QA47UNIL000000000192901033481

The characters 'IBAN' are never a part of the IBAN itself.

When will Qatar implement IBAN?

The current plan is to go live with IBAN on 1st January 2014. Its use will be mandatory from 1st May 2014.

What payments are covered?

All inter-bank transfers to accounts within Qatar will require a beneficiary IBAN. This includes SWIFT payments and instructions, salary transfers and QATCH payments.

Are cheques affected?

No. Cheques will continue to be cleared as they are today.

How will customers know their IBAN?

The IBAN will be shown under account details on UBL website, on your account statements as well any Debit/Credit advises from the Bank.

In addition, a tool has been developed on UBL website where customers can enter their account number and it will generate their IBAN.

Will customers have more than one IBAN?

Customers can have more than one IBAN. An IBAN uniquely identifies an account (not a customer) so if a customer have more than one account (like QAR CD account and USD SB account ) they will have more than one IBAN.