What is a SWIFT/BIC code?
A SWIFT code - also known as a SWIFT number is a standard format to uniquely identify all banks and financial institutions globally. SWIFT codes are a standard format for Business Identifier Codes - commonly referred to as a BIC.
If you send money across international lines 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. Your bank uses the code to send the money to the right bank in another country. Just like sending mail to the wrong ZIP/postal code means it might get lost or returned, the same goes for your money and an incorrect SWIFT code.
What does a SWIFT look like?
A SWIFT code is either 8 or 11 characters in length:
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. This is optional and can be 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 financial 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.