We’ve noticed that customers seem to have recurring issues with bank account numbers and bank keys when dealing with bank master data. To make your life easier, we’d like to share the following information with you:

Bank Key

First, it’s important to note that the bank key is a unique, country-dependent identifier. It is an SAP internal ID used to uniquely identify a bank. This ID, together with the country key, links to the other bank data in the system, such as name, bank number, and SWIFT code/BIC.

To make the data easier to use and more transparent, it’s possible to set up the bank key to match the bank number for your home country (bank key type 1) or to match the SWIFT code for foreign countries (bank key type 4).

If you set up the bank key to match the bank number, the key will have the same format rules as any other bank number. If you set up the bank key to match the SWIFT code, the key will be limited to 11 alphanumeric characters.

If you do not have explicit information about the length of the bank number for a country, you can enter the maximum value of 15 characters and restrict it later, once you have the exact data.

For more information, please refer to SAP note 1529550.

Bank Account

Just like the bank key, the bank account number is a country-dependent number that is related to a specific bank. It is linked to one currency at a time. If you enter an invalid account number, an error message is displayed. It may be, for example, that you entered a bank account number that is too long. Let’s say the country-specific limit for bank account numbers is 10 characters, but you entered a number with 23 characters. In that case, you’ll get an error message telling you that the data you entered has a different format than that defined in the country-specific checks. You will be asked to check your entries and correct your settings for the country-specific checks.

You can find out more about these formats by checking the “Set Country-Specific Checks” configuration step.

To do this, go into the Manage Your Solution app and select Configure Your Solution > Application Platform and Infrastructure > General Setting > Set Country-Specific Checks.

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This “Set Country-Specific Checks” configuration step allows you to define checks for bank key length and rules for formal checks that are applied during master data maintenance. In the Overview, select the relevant country by double-clicking it. In this example we select DE – Germany.


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On the next screen, we can see the length and checking rules that were set up for Germany. In our example, the bank account number is limited to 10 characters.


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For more information regarding our recommended settings for certain countries, please refer to SAP note 1012293.

So far, so good. But how can you avoid such errors?

As a very simple approach, we propose that you use IBANs instead of bank account numbers, because IBANs are less error-prone. It is, of course, possible to enter both bank account number and IBAN. In this case, the IBAN always has the higher priority. This means that as soon as you maintain an IBAN, it will be used instead of the bank account number. Keep in mind that for SEPA transfers, you need to maintain an IBAN, because it is not possible to make such a transfer with only the bank account number.

We hope this makes your work with bank master data easier. If you have more questions, let us know!