What is SWIFT code?
These codes are the standard accepted form of bank identification codes (BICs) that coincide with a particular bank around the world. The term SWIFT is trademarked to S.W.I.F.T. SCRL in La Hulpe, Belgium.
S.W.I.F.T. is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. They assign specific codes to different banks, bank branches and locations around the world. These bank codes comply with ISO 9362 standards. The SWIFT codes represent the standard for all bank codes, or BIC, worldwide.
The SWIFT and BIC codes allow people to complete transactions between international banks. They are especially useful for wire transfers from a bank in one country to a bank in another. Banks who wish to send a message to another far-off branch or banking company also use these codes. They are also used for institutions that are not finance-based as well.
What does a SWIFT code look like?
SWIFT codes are formed with either 8 or 11 characters. Codes with 8 characters indicate the primary office of a bank or other institution.
The first 4 characters are always letters and they signify the particular bank code. The next 2 are also letters. These are the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 designated country code for the bank location. The next 2 characters can be letters or numbers and tell what the specific location of the bank is. A 1 in the second character slot indicates that the bank is a passive participant. The last 3 characters are optional as they represent the branch code. These can be either letters or numbers.
Domestic Bank Codes in Various Countries
Individual countries often create their own coding system for banks operating within their own borders. These are used for everyday bank transactions and in-country financial transfers.
- United States of America – routing numbers
- Canada – routing or transit number
- United Kingdom – sort codes
- Ireland – national sort codes (NSC)
- Germany and Austria – Bankleitzahl (BLZ codes)
- Switzerland – Bankenclearing-Nummber (BC) and SIX Interbank Clearing Codes (SIC)
- France – Banque & Code Guichet
- Italy – Codice ABI (ABI) & Codice di Avviamento Bancario (CAB code)
- Australia and New Zealand – bank state branch (BSB number)
- India – Indian financial system code (IFSC code)