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IBAN discrimination (yes, there is such a thing!)

If your SEPA-enabled IBAN is refused, here’s what you should do

Melissa в March 1, 2020

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When people think of discrimination, they probably think of prejudiced treatment based on race, age or nationality. But did you know that there’s such a thing as IBAN discrimination too? While we hope this is something you never have to face, we want our community to be prepared for anything. We want to help you know what to do and the right steps to take in unfair situations such as these.

But what exactly is IBAN discrimination, anyway?

IBAN discrimination is when an employer, merchant or any other company in SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area) refuses to accept your SEPA-enabled IBAN for euro payments or direct debits. This can happen when transacting online or in person and the organisation or salesperson is in direct violation of European law. So if this happens to you, what can you do about it?

First, let’s start with some basics.

What’s an IBAN?

IBAN, an internationally agreed-upon system, stands for International Bank Account Number and is associated with most bank accounts around the world. An IBAN is made up of up to 34 letters and numbers, which includes a country code, two-digit check number, branch identifier and account number.

If you’re based in the UK, your Monese EUR account’s IBAN will have the GB country code. If you live outside of the UK (with the exception of France), your IBANs will start with BE. For account holders in France, your IBANs start with GB for the time being, but we’ll be able to update you on a better solution soon, so stay tuned.

What’s an IBAN used for?

The IBAN is used to help identify bank accounts locally or across borders. With your Monese EUR account, you use your IBAN to send and receive domestic and international euro payments across SEPA countries. They include all the EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, Vatican City and the United Kingdom. Essentially, it’s so that there isn’t a difference between national and international payments.

The benefit is that you can make and receive payments in euros without having to open multiple accounts. For example, if you're working abroad in the EU or wish to pay utilities in another country that’s part of SEPA, you can receive your salary and pay bills with your home country's IBAN.

Where do I find my Monese IBAN?


You can find your EUR account’s IBAN on the Monese app under ‘Account details’. This IBAN will work for any SEPA transfers. If you need to receive money from outside the SEPA area, you’ll find your international bank transfer details here too. The payment delivery time usually takes around 1–3 business days. We don’t charge a fee for this but be aware that the sending bank may charge you a fee for transfers.

What can I do if my IBAN is refused?

All organisations, employers and merchants operating in SEPA countries are obligated to accept IBANs from all SEPA member countries. IBAN discrimination is banned by law, as mentioned above.

If your IBAN is refused because of length, country code or any other reason, try and explain to the seller, business or employer that the rejection is illegal. It could be that they’re misinformed or their IT systems haven’t been properly updated to accept certain IBANs.

If this doesn’t solve the issue, try sending a formal, written complaint. If they’re still refusing to comply and your IBAN is still not accepted, make sure you try to get some documented proof of the rejection, whether that’s written, a screenshot or any other interaction you’ve had with them.

Armed with this information, you can better support your explanation when you report them to your local authority. Be sure to provide them with as much information as possible, the company’s details and how they can best reach you. Remember: you have the law on your side, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel like you’re being treated unfairly.

If you have any other questions about your IBAN or SEPA payments, feel free to get in touch with our Support team. You can also visit our Help Centre for more details on this topic.

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