RF Creditor Reference


RF Creditor Reference contains 25 characters in alphanumeric string and can be used when assigning and identifying unique identifiers.

Many countries have their own country-specific standards for identifiers. The purpose of RF Creditor Reference is to offer a standard that can be used instead of a country specific identifier. This increases STP process, especially when an identifier must cross national borders.

Other names and background

RF Creditor Reference is based on ISO 11649. Names for this standard in various implementation guides include:

  • RF Creditor Reference
  • ISO 11649 Reference
  • ISO Reference
  • RF Reference
  • Structured Creditor Reference

Standard was implemented at the end of 2008, first seen in SEPA rulebook 3.2.


Messages where Creditor Reference may be used in various payments related messages, including invoices, credit transfers direct debits.


Reference always contains maximum of 25 characters. Positions 1-2 contain identifier "RF" (separating this reference from the myriad of others), positions 3-4 contain check digit and positions onwards may contain alphanumeric characters, forming the actual reference. Alphanumeric characters allowed are digits and upper&lower letters from A to Z.

The purpose of the check digit is to confirm that the manual input reference is correct.

Check digit algorithm

In the reference section of RF, letters are converted into numbers and mod-97 (used in IBAN check digit calculation as well) operation is done to the reference in a numeric format. Result of this calculation will have to match the check digits indicated in position 3-4.

In order to convert the reference string into integers, letters must be converted using the following logic:

A/a = 10, B/b = 11, ..., Z/z = 35

Usage example for RF Reference & ISO 20022

ISO 20022 payment messages have Remittance Information structure to give information for matching the payment with the invoice. Creditor Reference is easy, simple, reliable and it is not prone to errors as it has control sum. Country specific creditor references may be converted to RF reference.

Creditor reference is given in Structured form of Remittance Information in ISO 20022 messages. Issuer 'ISO' is used for RF-references. The following XML structure is used for example in pain.001.001.03 and pain.008.001.02 messages: