What is a banking ABA number?

Written by christopher hundley | 13/05/2017

Certain types of financial transactions, such as setting up direct deposit or automatic withdrawals from your bank, require you to provide an ABA number. What exactly is this number, and what information does it contain?


An ABA number is a nine-digit number that appears on the bottom of checks and other financial documents in the United States. It is also known as a routing transit number.


ABA numbers are used to identify U.S. financial institutions, such as banks, by both the Federal Reserve and the Automated Clearing House (ACH) for electronic transfers. Federal Reserve transfers are those transfers occurring between the Federal Reserve and financial institutions; by contrast, ACH transfers occur between firms, between firms and individuals, and between individuals.


ABA numbers were created by the American Bankers Association in 1910. Since then, the Association has assigned ABA numbers to new financial institutions through a number of registrars.


The first two digits of the ABA number refer to the Federal Reserve Bank under whose jurisdiction the financial institution is located, and is followed by two numbers which refer to either the city or state in which the financial institution is located. The next four numbers identify the particular institution, and the last digit is the check digit.

Obtaining an ABA number

The current ABA registrar Accuity requires an application, a copy of the financial institution's charter and a fee of either £289 (for a first ABA number) or £373 (for additional ABA numbers).

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