What is a SWIFT code?
A SWIFT/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 BIC - Business Identifier Codes.
If you transfer money across international lines you nearly always need to use a BIC code, as it’s the way banks, financial institutions and money transfer services figure out where the money needs to go. You can think of a SWIFT/BIC code a bit like an international postal code. Your bank can use the SWIFT/BIC code to find another bank on the other side of the world. Like sending post to an incorrect ZIP code means it could get returned, the same goes for your money and the wrong SWIFT code.
What does a BIC look like?
A BIC/SWIFT code can be either 8 or 11 characters long:
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 banks 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.