Q: What is a SWIFT/BIC Code?
Learn what a SWIFT/BIC code is and how it allows you to make payments to international freelancers, vendors, and suppliers.
A SWIFT code — sometimes also called a SWIFT number — is a standard format for Business Identifier Codes (BIC). SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions and SWIFT codes are used to identify banks and financial institutions globally. It is a sort of international bank code or ID, providing information about who and where they are located.
These codes are used when transferring money between banks, particularly for international wire transfers — and banks also use these codes to exchange messages between each other.
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Format of a SWIFT/BIC code
A SWIFT/BIC is an 8-11 character code that identifies your country, city, bank, and branch as follows:
Bank code A-Z
4 letters representing the bank. Oftentimes, it looks like a shortened version of that bank’s name.
Country code A-Z
2 letters representing the country the bank is in.
Location code 0-9 A-Z
2 characters made up of letters or numbers. This communicates where that bank’s head office is located.
Branch Code 0-9 A-Z
3 digits specifying a particular branch of that bank. ‘XXX’ represents the bank’s head office.
When do I need a SWIFT/BIC code?
If you’re sending or receiving money internationally between banks, particularly international wire transfers, you may be asked for a SWIFT code. SWIFT codes allow banks to process transfers from abroad.
Where can I find my SWIFT/BIC code?
You may be able to find your bank’s SWIFT/BIC code in your bank account statements. If it’s not listed there, call your bank’s customer service department or your personal banker to get your code.
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Category: Compliance Ask Liquid Finance and Accounting
Updated: October 15, 2020
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax advice or legal advice or payroll advice. Since tax rules and laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a CPA / tax advisor and/or attorney for specific guidance.