A bank routing number is required when transferring money in Canada. In addition, you will need bank, branch and account number details.
If you are transferring money internationally, you will need SWIFT codes or Bank Identifier Codes (BIC). Each bank has its own BIC, which is 8 or 11 characters long.
Bank Routing Numbers
A bank routing number is a 9 digit number used to identify financial institutions in Canada and the United States for use in transactions such as wire transfers. It is important to ensure that you are using the correct bank routing number as this will ensure that the transfer will arrive in the correct bank account.
Note that financial institutions may have different routing numbers for different geographical locations, branches or business areas. Some financial institutions have different routing numbers for electronic and paper transactions.
How do I find my bank routing number?
There are multiple ways of finding credit union or bank routing numbers. The most common one is by looking it up in your check book. Routing numbers are printed on the bottom of a check:
Routing Number on Check
All numbers used here are for illustration and information purposes only and you should substitute the numbers that apply to your particular circumstances.
The Transit Number and Financial Institution number combined forms an eight digit number. These numbers are regulated by Payments Canada (formerly Canadian Payments Association) and are used to identify the name and address of the financial institution.
The bank routing number used for electronic payments contains a leading zero, followed by the three-digit financial institution number (“123”) and the five-digit branch number (“12345”). These numbers are enclosed by identical symbols (as shown in the second and third block of numbers above).
The bank routing number format is:
FIN – Bank
TRNST – Transit number (Branch)
The check number (“001” in check above) and Account number (up to 12 digits) are the remaining check identifying details at the bottom of the check.
Routing Number on Online Banking sites
Routing numbers can also be found on online banking sites of financial institutions. You should be able to find your account number, financial institution number and transit number once you log into your bank account. In some cases, you can find the details on your account page when you log in.
Contact your bank or financial institution if you are unsure which routing number to use. You can call the bank customer service phone number, the number listed on your debit card or via one of the contact methods provided during online banking.
Transferring Money overseas
You will need equivalent banking details if you intend to transfer money overseas from Canada. The bank branch and routing details are known by different terminology in different countries.
Bank Codes (also known as a Clearing, Routing or Sort code) are numerical codes used to identify specific banks around the world for financial transactions. The codes are generally assigned by a country’s central bank. It can be between 3 and 23 digits and is usually referred to, in different countries by different acronyms.
To transfer money overseas, in addition to the SWIFT code or BIC (Branch/Business Identification Code), you will need one or more of the following:
- NCC (National Clearing Code)
The National Clearing Code is also known as the Routing Code / Number. A NCC is not required for countries that use an International Bank Account Number (IBAN).
- BSC (Bank Sort Code)
Banks in the United Kingdom use a 6 digit code to identify the different financial institutions and their branches. The first 2 digits identify the bank and the last 4 digits identify the branch. It is usually formatted as three pairs of numbers “XX-XX-XX”. The sort code can usually be found on the back of a UK bank customer’s debit card or on their bank statement.
- BSB (Bank State Branch)
Australian, New Zealand or South African banks use a 6 digit code to identify their banks and their branch locations. The BSB is the equivalent of the NCC.
- IBAN (International Bank Account Number)
IBANs are used mostly in European Countries but also in countries outside of Europe when making or receiving international payments. The IBAN contains all the necessary information for the bank account, ie. the country code, the bank, bank branch, and account number. The IBAN cannot exceed 34 characters and most countries have a fixed IBAN length for their particular country. Customers from countries that use the IBAN will find their IBAN on their bank statements. Examples of countries with IBANs can be found here:
Wire Transfer Checklist
A quick checklist is available here of what you should have on hand before transferring funds:
- SWIFT code or BIC
- Bank name and address of overseas bank
- Routing Code / Number for transferring money to banks in the United States and Canada
- Bank Sort Code for sending funds to the UK or BSB for money transfer to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
- IBAN if wire transfer is required to a selected list of countries (many in Europe)
- Beneficiary’s name, address and account number
- Amount and currency you want to send.