A SWIFT code (also known as BIC Code) 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 transfer money across international lines you nearly always need to use a SWIFT/BIC code, as it’s the way banks, financial institutions and money transfer services identify where to send money on a global scale. You can think of a SWIFT/BIC code a bit like an international postal code. Your bank uses the code to send the money to the right bank in another country. Just like sending mail to an incorrect ZIP code means it could get lost or returned, the same goes for your money and the wrong SWIFT code.
A SWIFT code can be either 8 or 11 characters long:
AAAA BB CC DDD
There are 2 types of SWIFT code: live and passive. Live codes are for financial institutions who are actively 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.