What is a SWIFT code?
A SWIFT code - or 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 - commonly referred to as a BIC.
If you send money internationally you nearly always need to use a SWIFT code, as it’s the way banks and money transfer services figure out where the money needs to go. You can think of a SWIFT/BIC code a bit like a ZIP/postal code. Your bank uses the code to send the money to the right bank in another country. Similar to how sending a postcard to an incorrect ZIP code means it might get returned, the same goes for your money and an incorrect SWIFT code.
What does a SWIFT/BIC look like?
A SWIFT/BIC code can be either 8 or 11 characters long:
AAAA BB CC DDD
- AAAA: 4 character bank code.This section can only be A-Z letters.
- BB: 2 character country code. ISO alpha-2 country code.
- CC: 2 character location code.
- DDD: 3 character branch code. Optional. Can include letters or digits. An XXX here would refer to the primary office.
More info about SWIFT/BIC codes
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.