Central Bank of UAE mandates IBAN

The Central Bank of UAE has issued a new directive that requires an IBAN for all payment transactions. The Central Bank regulation is effective from November 19, 2011. All banks in the UAE are required to accept and process payment instructions only with IBAN. Consequently you will be required to provide an IBAN when making or receiving payments to any beneficiary account in the UAE. Please ensure that the relevant IBAN for your account(s) is communicated to all parties from whom you are expecting a remittance. You must also redefine your UAE beneficiaries in Samba Access to insurer successful transactions.

International Bank Account Number (IBAN) is an international standard for identifying bank accounts (excluding credit cards). The main purpose of IBAN is to enhance the speed and accuracy of payment transactions.

In case IBAN is not used, the processing of both inward and outward payments to UAE from or into your account(s) will be rejected.

Frequently asked questions
What is IBAN?
IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a unique customer account number which can be used confidently in making or receiving payments (excluding checks and credit cards) within the country as well as abroad. The confidence comes from two sources: the first is the internationally accepted standard for numbering bank customer accounts and the second is the ISO standard methodology for verifying the accuracy of the IBAN.

How Does UAE IBAN Look like?
According to the ISO compliant IBAN Standard issued by the Central Bank of UAE, all IBANs have a fixed length of 23 characters.

An example of UAE IBAN for Samba Corporate Customers
Note: Samba UAE routing code is: 040

IBAN has two main components i.e. the header and the Basic Bank Account Number (BBAN).

The header helps to identify and verify the IBAN internationally. It contains the ISO two letter country code and the two check digits. Accordingly, the first 2 characters of an IBAN for UAE are always 'AE' (the ISO country code which identifies UAE, where the customer account resides). The third and the fourth characters of an IBAN are always the two check digits, generated by a bank in UAE, where the customer account is maintained.

The IBAN helps to identify an account number of a customer, as well as his bank, domestically. It comprises the Bank Identifier (which identifies the account holding bank) and the customer account number. In the case of UAE, the Bank Identifier is the 3 digits following the Check Digits. The remaining part of the IBAN is the existing customer account number.

The length of the customer account number in the IBAN is fixed as 16 characters. It can contain numbers (0 to 9) and upper case letters (A to Z) depending on the respective bank. The length and structure of IBAN varies from country to country.

How Can I Get My IBAN Details?
You can get your IBAN details by through one of the following channels:
(a) Contact Samba Customer Service Center
(b) Visit Samba Branch
(c) On the Bank Monthly Statement for your account(s)

What is the difference between an IBAN and a normal account number?
An IBAN can always be distinguished from a normal customer account number by the following:
(a) Two letters at the beginning of the IBAN, which refer to the country code where the account resides;
(b) Two numbers (in the third and fourth position of the IBAN), which represent the check digit;
(c) Three numbers (after the check digits) to identify the respective bank where the beneficiary maintains his/her      account; and
(d) The length of the IBAN is 23 characters.

For example, in the IBAN account number AE??4000000000998129463:
It starts with "AE" (country code), followed by "??" (The two check digits), "040" which is the bank routing code, followed by 16 digit Alphanumeric Banking Account Number.

Why did the United Arab Emirates decide to introduce IBAN?
The United Arab Emirates decided to implement IBAN to increase efficiency of electronic fund transfers.

The ISO IBAN Standard provides a methodology for a bank initiating a payment to check the accuracy of the IBAN of the recipient, regardless of the bank where the account is maintained. Therefore, any electronic payment containing a valid IBAN could be credited faster to the recipient's account.

Having considered the benefits of IBAN in increasing the efficiency of local and cross-border electronic payments, the Central Bank has included IBAN as a project for further strengthening UAE's status as the regional financial centre.

How would bank customers benefit from IBAN?
The main benefit of IBAN to the customer is the assurance of making a payment to the correct account without delay. Since banks check the accuracy of the IBAN at the point of initiating a payment, they can only make the payments which carry the correct IBAN.

Who requires an IBAN?
Bank customers, who receive or make electronic payments in UAE or abroad, will require IBAN. If you have more than one account at your bank, you will require an IBAN for each of your accounts.

When can Samba customers use IBAN in the UAE?
Bank customers can use IBAN for their interbank domestic and cross-border electronic payments from November 19, 2011.

For which transaction(s) can IBAN be used?
IBAN can be used for the following domestic and cross-border payments:
 Initiating an electronic payment to an account holder at a bank in the UAE;
 Samba initiating an electronic payment through Samba to a person or company in a country that has adopted IBAN    and where the usage of IBAN is compulsory;
 Receiving an electronic payment through Samba from a person in a country that has adopted IBAN;
 Receiving an electronic payment through Samba from an account of a person or company in the UAE;
 Receiving an electronic payment through Samba from a person or company in a country that has not adopted IBAN.

Does the existing account numbers become invalid with the introduction of IBAN?
No. Your existing account number will continue to be valid. IBAN is not a new account number. It simply represents the existing account number in an electronically recognizable ISO standard format. The adoption of IBAN in UAE does not require changing or replacing the existing account numbers.

Is the IBAN to be used only for international payments?
No. Customers have to use IBAN in making and receiving international as well as domestic electronic payments.

Who can create and issue IBAN?
Banks in UAE having customer accounts which are used for electronic payments are authorized to generate IBAN. No other party is permitted to generate IBAN for bank customers.

Is there a standard way to write an IBAN?
When you write or print an IBAN on a document, it has to be split into groups of four characters, e.g.: AE?? 4000 0000 0099 8129 463 to support easy recognition. The last group of the IBAN for a customer in UAE contains three characters.

There should not be any spaces when entering the IBAN in an electronic payment message. The IBAN should be presented in an electronic payment message as a continuous string of characters i.e. AE??4000000000998129463

What happens if we do not mention Beneficiary account as IBAN from November 19, 2011 onwards?
Banks will not reject such transactions from November 19, 2011 to 12th April 2012. However, it is likely that your transfer may get processed with delays.

What happens if we don't mention Beneficiary account as IBAN after April 12, 2012?
Banks will not process and will reject such transfers if they do not contain a valid IBAN account number after April 12, 2012. Furthermore, there may be additional rejection charges applied to the transfer. This is only applicable for payments made to beneficiaries in the UAE.