A SWIFT code - also known as a SWIFT number is a standard format to uniquely identify banks and financial institutions across the world. The SWIFT code is a standard format for Business Identifier Codes (BIC).
If you transmit money internationally you almost always need to use a SWIFT/BIC code, as it’s the way banks and money transfer services identify where to send money on a global scale. You can think of a SWIFT code a bit like a ZIP/postal code. A bank on one side of the world finds the right bank on the other side of the world. Just like sending mail to the wrong ZIP/postal code means it may get lost, the same thing can apply for your money and the wrong SWIFT code.
A BIC/SWIFT code is either 8 or 11 characters in length:
AAAA BB CC DDD
There are 2 types of SWIFT code: live and passive. Live codes are for institutions who are connected to the SWIFT network while passive Codes are used for manual transactions. Passive SWIFT codes will have a 1 as the second digit of the 2 character location code.
SWIFT code registrations and management are the responsibility of "Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication" (“SWIFT”) which is located in La Hulpe, Belgium.
SWIFT is the registered trademark of S.W.I.F.T. SCRL with a registered address at Avenue Adèle 1, B-1310 La Hulpe, Belgium.