What Is a Bank Routing Number and Where Do You Find It on a Check?

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Updated on Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Routing numbers identify the bank location in which you opened your account, and are required to settle transactions. Typically, you can find your routing number at the bottom left-hand corner of your checks, though there are other ways to find it as well.

This article covers everything you need to know about your bank routing number, including how they differ from account numbers.

What is a routing number?

A routing number identifies the location of the bank’s branch where you opened your account. This number allows financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, to trace where the money is coming from and where it’s going, so as to not confuse one bank with another. Along with your bank account number, a routing number is part of the information required for financial institutions to process direct deposits, checks, auto payments and wire transfers.

A routing number consists of nine digits and three components. The first four digits represent the Federal Reserve routing symbol. The next four digits identify an ABA institution. The last component (the ninth number) is the “check digit.” This single number is important because it is used to verify the authenticity of the routing number.

Different types of routing numbers

Some banks may have different routing numbers for different types of transactions. For example, the routing number for direct deposits and automated clearing house (ACH) transfers may be different from the one used for wire transfers.

It’s critical to find the right routing number for the type transaction you intend to make. If you’re not sure which number to use, you should contact your bank for help.

Routing number vs. account number

It is important to differentiate a routing number from an account number. An account number identifies your specific account. A routing number, on the other hand, identifies the bank that’s responsible for money going in and out of your account.

One bank may have multiple routing numbers, determined by factors like the region where the account is opened.

Routing Number vs. Account Number
What it identifies Number of digits
Routing numberThe location in which your account was opened Nine digits
Account numberYour actual, personal account Usually 10-12 digits

Where to find the routing number

While you can easily figure out your routing number by calling your bank, there are a number of ways you can find the number on your own as well.

On a check

Bank routing number, account number, and check number

The routing number generally appears in the bottom left-hand corner of a check. It is the first set of numbers. The next set of numbers — just to the right of the routing number — is your account number, which is generally followed by the number of that specific check. These three components are usually separated by symbols, spaces or a combination of both.

Online

Banks often list their routing numbers on their websites. Typically, you can easily find your routing number after securely logging into your bank account online, either through your bank’s website or through its mobile app.

Once you’re logged on, you can typically find information like your account number, routing number and more through your online account dashboard.

On the ABA website

You may look up a routing number on the ABA website by inputting a bank’s name and its location. On the same website, you also may look up this number for another type of financial institution.