A sort code is the name given by both the British and Irish banking
industry to the bank codes which are used to route money transfers
between banks within their respective countries via their respective
clearance organisations. In Ireland it is known as the NSC or National
Sort Code and is regulated by IPSO (Irish Payment Services
Organisation). Although sort codes in both countries have the same
format, they are regulated by different authorities as each country has
its own banking system.
List of sort codes of the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom the initial digits of
bank sort codes are allocated to settlement members of the Cheque and
Credit Clearing Company and the Belfast Bankers' Clearing Committee.
These numbers are six digits long, formatted into three pairs which are
separated by hyphens.
Separately operated by the Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers until 1985.
Belfast Bankers' Clearing Company
The clearing system in Northern Ireland is operated under the Belfast Clearing Rules which are agreed by the Belfast Bankersí Clearing Company Ltd. (formerly the Northern Ireland Bankersí Association).
Sort codes of the Republic of Ireland
The sort code ranges in use in the Republic of Ireland are broadly similar to those used in Northern Ireland. Exceptions include:
It should also be noted that, in the Republic, the trading name of Danske Bank is National Irish Bank.
The British and Irish sort codes are only used for domestic money transfers. If money is being transferred across international borders, an international network is used. Many European countries use the IBAN as a means of identifying bank account numbers, but transfers to, amongst others, the United States and Australia make use of the BIC Codes. Characters 9 to 14 of British and Irish IBANs hold the bank account sort code.In some countries there is no direct equivalent of sort codes as the bank and branch codes are maintained separately from each other in those countries. Other countries, however, have codes which are equivalent to sort codes, but with formats unique to the country concerned. Examples include:
The Industry Sorting Code Directory (ISCD) is the definitive list of bank branches and sub branches in the United Kingdom. The directory is maintained by VocaLink on behalf of the UK Payments Administration Limited (formally APACS).
The ISCD contains the sort code, SWIFT Bank Identifier Code (BIC), payment information, clearing information and contact details for all bank branches and sub-branches involved in the UK payment clearing system.
The ISCD is used by organisations to check the validity of sorting codes, which, combined with modulus checking of the bank account number and sorting code, is essential for successful Direct Debit and BACS Credit transactions.
The information contained within the ISCD is subject to frequent changes. To ensure that organisations have access to accurate information, VocaLink updates the ISCD once a week and makes it available to download. To obtain the ISCD, organisations must register with VocaLink or one of its official ISCD distributors.
Extended Industry Sorting Code Directory (EISCD) The Extended Industry Sorting Code Directory is based upon the ISCD and was introduced to provide reference data to support the UK's Faster Payments service. The EISCD contains all data elements found within the ISCD, with the addition of a new section containing Faster Payments clearing information for each UK bank branch.
The EISCD is updated weekly and is available from VocaLink and authorised distributors.