IBAN discrimination: What to do if a company doesn’t accept your IBAN

Magali Van Bulck
11.03.20
3 minute read

In finance, it’s important to know your rights and what to do when they’ve been violated.

TransferWise is here to help. We want to empower consumers and give them the tools to tell people when they haven’t been treated fairly. This blog post will set out what you can do if a company in Europe doesn’t accept your TransferWise IBAN. Hint: that’s not allowed.

What is my TransferWise IBAN?

An IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is what you usually give to people in order for them to send you money.

In 2017, we launched EUR bank details. They meant that anyone could receive Euros for free, straight to their TransferWise account. Since then, tons of people have signed up for EUR bank details. But we wanted to improve them further. So, in December 2019 we decided to launch new EUR bank details for customers in Europe.

We made this switch to give you a new IBAN - this one starts with ‘BE’. It lets you do more with your TransferWise account, like:

But we’ve noticed that some banks and merchants around the world don’t always accept TransferWise IBANs. Rest assured, this isn’t just a problem that TransferWise faces. It’s a problem for people across all of Europe. But it’s illegal.

Discrimination against non-local IBANs

Some companies and employers don’t accept IBANs that aren’t from the country they are based in. Let’s say you want to pay your electricity bill in France, but your electricity provider refuses to accept an IBAN that doesn’t start with FR (for France). That means they discriminate against non-local IBANs, which is a problem for people with an international account.

They are legally not allowed to do that. Merchants are required by EU law to accept IBANs from other member states of European Economic Area (EEA). If they don't, you can report them to the relevant authority in your country.

What can I do if a company doesn’t accept my IBAN?

Here’s what to do if this happens:

1. A merchant is blocking my Euro Direct Debit

Despite the Euro single market, some merchants won’t allow Direct Debits from Euro accounts based in another country.

That is against the law - but you can do something about it. Tell us about a merchant that doesn’t accept our IBAN for Direct Debit payment by adding their details to our quick form.

Every EU country has a national competent authority you can report discriminating merchants to. You can find your national authority here.

2. A bank doesn’t allow me to make a payment to my TransferWise IBAN

Not all banks recognise our new EUR details yet, especially banks located outside the EU that make payments to Europe via SWIFT transfers.

Banks can be slow at updating their systems. This means that software doesn't always know yet about newer bank accounts, like ours. To fix this:

  1. Tell us about a bank that doesn’t allow transfers to our Belgian IBAN by filling out this form

  2. Send our letter to the bank in question - it’ll help them understand what they need to do to fix this.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more

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