How Do Sort Codes Work?


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Oscar De La Huerte Profile
In the UK, a sort code is simply a six-digit number that is used to route and clear money transfers between banks.

Sort codes usually appear as a series of 6 numbers separated by hyphens, for example 12-34-56.

How does a sort code work?

The main objective of a sort code is to give information regarding the identification of a bank or building society, as well as the branch in which a particular account is held.

The first two digits is the part that refers to the specific name of the bank or building society.
For example the following digits denote the equivalent banking societies:
01- National Westminster Bank
05- Clydesdale Bank
11- Bank of Scotland

For certain banks, the first four digits are required to distinguish the name of the bank, for example Santander UK is reserved the numbers starting with anything between 09-00 and 09-19. In this context, 09-19-29 would be a Santander UK account.

Who uses sort codes?

Sort codes are used in the BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing Services) system, which is owned and operated by British financial institutions, and handles the transfer of monies from one account to another.

The banking community allocates sort codes to new bank or building society branches and a list of all valid sort codes is held in something called the ISCD (Industry Sorting Code Directory).

Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Sort codes are designed to allow for payments and transactions to be made between banks and building societies. The sort code itself is a number which defines the exact branch of the bank itself. The sort code is made up of a six digit number in the UK, seperated by hyphens. For example, 11-04-48.

Different banks have parent codes used at the beginning of the code, for example the above code would be for Halifax, who use 11 as their parent code. Codes 20-29 are used for Barclays Bank, and 40-49 for HSBC.

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