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A SWIFT code (also known as BIC Code) is a standard format to uniquely identify all banks and financial institutions across the world. The SWIFT code is a standard format for Business Identifier Codes (BIC).
If you transfer money across international lines you nearly always need to use a SWIFT/BIC 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 code a bit like a ZIP/postal code. Your bank can use the BIC code to find another bank on the opposite side of the world. Just like sending mail to the wrong ZIP code means it may go missing, the same goes for your money and the wrong SWIFT code.
A SWIFT/BIC 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.