What is a SWIFT code?
A SWIFT code - also known as a SWIFT number is a standard format to uniquely identify all banks and financial institutions across the world. The SWIFT code is a standard format for BIC - Business Identifier Codes.
If you send money internationally you almost always need to use a 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 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/postal code means it could get returned, the same thing can apply for your money and an incorrect SWIFT code.
What does a SWIFT look like?
A SWIFT/BIC code is either 8 or 11 characters in length:
AAAA BB CC DDD
- AAAA: 4 character bank code. Only 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 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.