The “international routing code” (IRC) puzzle! It is required, at least by Wells Fargo, when wiring funds to a UK bank in addition to the usual IBAN and BIC/SWIFT. But what is it?

Wells Fargo won’t tell you. Instead they require the sender to find out from the recipient UK bank what their IRC is. But here’s the real mystery: you don’t even know what to ask for when asking the foreign bank for their “IRC” for Wells informs you that this term “IRC” has a different name in every country, and that you must find out from the receiving bank what their term is!

But here’s the Catch 22. If you contact the UK bank and ask them, “I need your “Int’l Routing code”, but first I have to ask, ‘What do you call your IRC’?” They will have no idea because they don’t use the term! You are met with an awkward silence. No one knows what you want.

Again, the IRC is not the IBAN nor is it the BIC/SWIFT; it is something required in addition to these.

Answer: it is what the Brits call the bank’s “sort code” … in Austria it’s their “Bankleitzahl” (i.e. branch bank number). Instead of calling it this over-glorious and misdirecting “Int’l routing code,” Wells F. should just indicate they need the “local branch bank number.”

But warning. While in Britain the “sort code” is always shown with hyphens separating every two digits, when using it in the form for wiring funds to the UK, you must not put these hyphens in, or you will get an “invalid entry” correction. (Wells does not give you the heads-up, of course, that hyphens should be admitted).

Wire away! Do you need my UK bank acct number?