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Bank transfer setup - what is a "routing number"?

Hello everyone,

I am trying to set up my shop to accept bank transfers, since it is quite a usual way for europeans to do transactions and I am familiar with this process. My question is, what is a "routing number"???
I know what an IBAN is, I know what a swift code is, but I have never encountered the term routing number.
From what I read at Wikipedia, it is a bank code used in the United States. Do european banks have one too? I cannot come up with any info on this, no information on my bank's site besides the usual SWIFT and IBAN codes.
Any insight on this would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

18 Responses

For the US; the routing number is on the bottom of each check, to the left of the account number and identifies the bank. I'm not sure if it's the same for Europe or if you're asking about European banks?

I do know that for a US bank to accept a bank transfer incurs significant fees which can total more than the sale, as well as a fee to convert the currency. Frankly, US banks are not set up to accept bank transfers.
Yes, it's a code for banks in the US- it can often be found at the bottom of a personal check. Call your bank and see if they use routing numbers, if so they will be able to tell you what it is. I'm thinking you could leave that part blank if your bank doesn't use them.
it's that long string of numbers at the bottom on the very left of the check
Do the people in the UK use this type of bank transfer payment too?
I know, things in Europe are wayyy easier regarding bank transfers and they are free, that is why most europeans use them for their transactions...A lot of people still prefer them over paypal. On the other hand, cheques are not that popular anymore. But I guess it is a different banking system setup in general.
Thanks Brandi for your help :), I think I know now how it looks like (I remember seeing it on a cheque), now I have to figure out what is its equivalent for the european banks. If any shop owners from Europe have come across this, their input would be appreciated too.
Thank you all for your help, it's just that we are not that familiar with cheques, at least me :) (use them while in US but not in Europe).
Rose, a lot if not most Europeans use bank transfers, it is quite a regular way for transactions, not sure exactly about UK, but I had to get acquainted with paypal only after starting to shop online through ebay and etsy. I find a lot of people who feel more comfortable going through their web banking system or their bank directly instead of using paypal payments .
routing number identifies the bank or the branch of the bank in America
so to be sure that the payment is done to the right account both numbers must be indicated - routing can also be called ABA.
In Europe this number is included in the iban nr which identifies
bank
branch
account
i think routing number is the american term for what we call the "sort code" and account number in the UK

If you have your IBAN & swift codes those should be sufficient for bank transfers

Remember to check what fees you might incur if you accept international/other currency transfers
In the UK, I *think* it's the equivalent of the 6-digit sort code. In France, you have a (5 digit) Code Guichet. Both of these identify the branch of the bank where the account is held. Is that what a Routing Number does?

(I have to admit the phrasing of Routing Number is one of the reasons I've never wanted to use bank transfers here! I had no idea what it was either...)

UK people use bank transfers much less often to purchase things than in Germany and France, in my (limited) experience Rose - more to pay bills and the like. But it's not difficult to do - the biggest issue is international bank transfer fees and currency conversion rates...

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