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What is a routing number?

In the US, banks and other financial institutions use routing numbers to identify themselves. They're made up of 9-digits, and depending on the purpose they serve, name differently:

  • Routing transit numbers
  • Check routing numbers
  • Fedwire numbers
  • ABA routing numbers.

Bank routing numbers are used to process check and electronic transactions such as funds transfers, direct deposits, digital checks, and bill payments.

The Federal Reserve Banks use routing transit numbers to process Fedwire funds transfers. The Automated Clearing House (ACH) network needs them to facilitate electronic transfers – like salary, and pension payments.


Where is a routing number on a check?

Your bank routing number can be found at the bottom left corner of a check. Here’s how to find your routing number and account number on any check issued by your bank.


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How to find your routing number online

Good news: there are lots of ways to find your bank ABA routing number.

Here are some of the ways to find your number online:

  1. On this website – We've listed routing numbers for some of the biggest banks in the US.
  2. Online banking – You’ll be able to get your bank's routing number by logging into online banking.
  3. Check or statement – bank-issued check or bank statement.
  4. Fedwire – You can look up your routing number on the official website of the Federal Reserve.

To make sure the bank can process your payment securely and quickly, you should always check routing numbers – including numbers on this page – with your bank or your recipient.

image of a banking check & routing number

Which routing number should you use?

Are all routing numbers the same?

Banks use different routing numbers for different types of transactions. For this reason, the routing number printed on your checks might not be the same number you need for an ACH transfer, or direct debit.

If you’re not sure which routing number you’ll need for a particular transfer type, you should check with your bank beforehand. Careful. Using the wrong number can lead to delays in processing the transfer.

routing number

Routing Number vs Account number

Bank account numbers and routing numbers are used in conjunction, but are different. The former identifies a bank or a financial institution, whereas the latter - an account number, is a unique number between eight and 12 digits representing any account you hold at your bank.

Routing numbers, on the other hand are used to identify banks when processing domestic check, and electronic payments or wire transfers in the United States.

An input form and bank card

What are routing numbers used for?

Banks use bank transit numbers for all sorts of financial transactions. You might need one if you want to do any of the following:

  • Set up a direct deposit, or pay bills automatically from your US bank account
  • Have payments like a salary or pension deposited into your account
  • Pay in a check
  • Make a wire transfer or ACH payment to someone in the US

Routing Numbers FAQs

Routing numbers, SWIFT codes, BIC and IBANs – what’s the difference?

Banks love confusing financial jargon. Here’s a simple explanation.

You’ll need a few details to send or receive a wire transfer – either here in the US or internationally.

Routing numbers help identify banks when processing domestic ACH payments or wire transfers. But only in the United States. You don't need one to make a payment to your friend in France, for example.

SWIFT codes, like routing numbers, also identify banks and financial institutions. This time for international payments. They're sometimes known as BIC codes (Bank Identification Codes)

IBANs (international bank account numbers) identify individual bank accounts. They're issued by many banks in Europe, but banks elsewhere in the world are starting to adopt them as well.

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