Easier said than done

… continuing the story.

I just had to declare my five-euro turnover and pay my social contributions. That simple… at least that is what I thought!

This is how the one last thing about being a micro-entrepreneur post ended. Now, the actual process (to declare your income and to pay your contributions) is straightforward (see Social security contributions). You just have to set up a direct payment from your bank (or pay by card1). Owing to my new pro account (see A dedicated bank account), I had to set up the payment method again; all I needed was to enter my bank details.


Indeed, these two numbers (or codes) were nowhere to be found on my PayPal account nor any statement report of my PayPal transaction history. I also searched PayPal website/forums, as well as Google, for where to find my IBAN, but all in vain. Owing to the number of times I saw the question How can I find my IBAN?, I thought this would be easy. However, the typical answer was something along the lines of Normally you can find it on your online banking bank statement. Really!

PayPal is not a bank.PayPal

My quest for the IBAN of my account was infructuous; still, I could at least find the BIC for PayPal Europe: PPLXLULL XXX. As for the former, the only hope I had was this video explaining how to find your IBAN account number in PayPal. I followed the steps – one by one – but again to no avail! Seeing in a footnote on the PayPal website that PayPal is not a bank didn’t discourage me…


You may be familiar with the former and never have heard of the latter, or vice versa. What are they anyway? BIC stands for Bank Identifier Code and represents a bank branch for international payments on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network. In fact, a SWIFT code also represents a bank branch for international payments. So, is SWIFT the same as BIC?

Both codes identify the recipient bank and avoid international money transfer mistakes. In practice, many people use them interchangeably to describe the code for international payments. However, BIC refers to the set of digits you can use to send international payments, while SWIFT is the global network for processing payments between countries. Anyway, they are all between 8 and 11 digits, broken down as follows:

  • 4 letters for the Institution code or bank code
  • 2 letters for the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code
  • 2 letters or digits for the location code
  • 3 optional letters or digits for the branch code

PPLXLULL swift code is the unique bank identifier for PAYPAL EUROPE, S.A R.L ET CIE, S.C.A.’s head office branch located in LUXEMBOURG.Bank-Code.net

PayPal Customer Service

Finding PayPal International Customer Service phone number (for France) was easy; obtaining what I was asking for was another story. I faced several rebuffs before getting a person willing to help. Given my previous struggle, not only asked I N. (not to name him) his name, but I also requested an “official” email with the IBAN for my account. In particular, I was a little concerned with the fact that the IBAN he gave me started with “DE” – the two-digit country code for Germany. Owing to my French account, I was expecting “FR” instead – or “LU” for a company based in Luxemburg – but not “DE”.

When I received the email my concern grew bigger. The IBAN was the same number that N. provided me with on the phone, but the email was referring to a “virtual” IBAN.

“Why virtual?”

After reading that, from the customer’s side, virtual IBAN functions the same as regular IBAN, I was still not at ease. Therefore, I decided to try my chance with the PayPal customer service again (a few weeks later2). This time I was lucky; the person on the phone was prompt in confirming the IBAN code, as well as the BIC.

It was now time to declare my income, set up a direct payment from my PayPal account, and pay my contributions.

To be continued…

1 Beware that if you subscribe to electronic payment (as I did), you no longer have access to payment by bank card. As far as my story is concerned, that would not have made a difference, though. ^
2 It was now time to declare my income (see One last thing about being a micro-entrepreneur) and I wanted to double-check, one last time, if the information – IBAN and BIC – were correct. ^

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