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What is a SWIFT code?

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication – understandably shortened to SWIFT – has been around for more than 40 years and exists to help banks communicate securely among themselves. Banks within the SWIFT network can send secure payment orders to each other to allow them. And also safely move money between accounts that are based in different countries.

An important thing about this system is the SWIFT code. That is a unique identifier that shows the exact bank you are sending money to, including details of the country in which the bank is based, its location, and even branch number. SWIFT codes are made up of just a few letters and numbers, but tell banks within the network all they need to know to get your money where it is heading safely.

SWIFT codes all follow the same format and are 8 or 11 characters long. They are made up of different pieces of information to guide your international payment.

Swift Code General Structure

Swift Code General Structure

OK. Let’s take an example:

SWIFT code: MIDLGB2114R

We can break down this SWIFT code as follows:

What is a BIC code?

You might also find that you are asked for a BIC code when arranging your international payment. BIC is short for Business Identifier Code, although it originally stood for Bank Identifier Code before being updated in 2009 . In that time reflect the rise of financial services businesses that were not actually banks.

Is SWIFT the same as BIC?

Technically, SWIFT – the organization – assigns a BIC to businesses that need one. However, the terms SWIFT code and BIC are used interchangeably and mean the same thing.

You might also see the same code referred to as a SWIFT/BIC, BIC/SWIFT code, or a SWIFT identifier.

How to find a BIC/SWIFT code

Your BIC/SWIFT code will be printed on your account statement. You can also find it by logging into your online banking, searching there, or calling your local branch to ask for help.

If you are looking for a SWIFT code to send a payment to someone else, the easiest way to find their SWIFT code can be with an online SWIFT/BIC tool. Simply input the details you have – the country, bank, and location, and the online SWIFT code search will find the right one for you. You must double-check it always with your receipt for the safe side and avoid issues in your payment.

SWIFT codes may be confused, but they’re pretty essential for international transfers made via high street banks. They contain all your bank needs to make sure your international payment reaches its safe destination.

If you’re confused by the financial terminology used by banks when arranging international payments, you’re not alone. To send or receive funds from anywhere in the world using a traditional bank, you’re going to need a SWIFT code. Or a BIC. Or maybe a SWIFT/BIC. But what, if anything, is the difference between these codes?

The good news is that once you’ve learned the lingo, finding the information you need for your international payment is fair and painless. Here’s all you need to know about BIC/SWIFT codes, including the following things:

SWIFT payments

If you’re looking for a SWIFT code, you’re likely about to make or receive an international payment. Either way, it’s a smart idea to learn a bit about how the SWIFT system works.

As we mentioned above, SWIFT is primarily a communication network and passes payment orders between banks. When it comes to actually move a cross-border payment. That is in the banks rely on a network of correspondent banks that work together to move the money from one place to finally reaching your recipient.

So there can be up to three correspondent banks involved. That is in making one payment that is a bit like your money taking a series of connecting flights to get to its final destination.

This system is generally reliable but does come with a few downsides. First, it can take a while for your money to reach your recipient, depending on how it is routed. Secondly, you might run into unexpected charges, as correspondent banks can deduct a fee from the payment to cover their costs. That is in addition to any upfront charges you have already paid.

These SWIFT fees are often described in the small print of your account terms and conditions as third-party charges. Because of the way the SWIFT network is set up and it may be impossible to find out. Exactly which correspondent bank fees will be at the time you place the transfer?. Unfortunately, this might mean that your recipient gets less than you expect them to in the end.

There are alternatives out there that don’t rely on the SWIFT network. International payment specialist TransferWise uses new technology to move money without using the SWIFT system at all. And because all payments are arranged online, TransferWise has low overheads and can pass the savings on to customers. This often means you will get a better deal if you use TransferWise for your payment, compared to your usual bank.

TransferWise is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The body which oversees high street banks in the UK.

SWIFT code checker

To check or find the SWIFT code you need for your payment, head over to this helpful BIC/SWIFT code checker.

Using an incorrect SWIFT code can delay your payment, mean that it’s sent back to you, or even result in it going to the wrong account. Wherever possible, check the SWIFT code with your recipient. If you’re expecting a payment, get your code from a bank statement or online banking.

The SWIFT system is a well-established way of making international payments. However, because it involves several banks working together in a single transfer. The costs can mount up. It’s also rarely the fastest way to move your money. With the rise of new technology, you might find that a provider that avoids the SWIFT network entirely, such as TransferWise, can offer a better deal on your international transfer.

SWIFT Codes (BICs) of World’s Largest Banks

No Bank Name Country Swift Code
1 JP Morgan Chase USA CHASUS33XXX (CHASUS33)
2 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) China ICBKCNBJXXX (ICBKCNBJ)
3 Bank of America USA BOFAUS3NXXX (BOFAUS3N)
4 Wells Fargo USA WFBIUS6SXXX (WFBIUS6S)
5 China Construction Bank (CCB) China PCBCCNBJXXX (PCBCCNBJ)
6 HSBC Holdings PLC UK MIDLGB22XXX (MIDLGB22)
7 Agricultural Bank of China China ABOCCNBJXXX (ABOCCNBJ)
8 Citigroup USA CITIUS33XXX (CITIUS33)
9 Bank of China China BKCHHKHHXXX (BKCHHKHH)
10 China Merchants Bank China CMBCCNBSXXX (CMBCCNBS)
11 Royal Bank of Canada Canada ROYCCAT2XXX (ROYCCAT2)
12 The Toronto-Dominion Bank Canada TDOMCATTXXX (TDOMCATT)
13 Commonwealth Bank of Australia Australia CTBAAU2SXXX (CTBAAU2S)
14 Morgan Stanley USA MSNYUS33XXX (MSNYUS33)
15 Goldman Sachs USA GOLDUS33XXX (GOLDUS33)
16 Banco Santander Spain BSCHESMMXXX (BSCHESMM)
17 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Japan BOTKJPJTXXX (BOTKJPJT)
18 U.S. Bancorp USA USBKUS44XXX (USBKUS44)
19 BNP Paribas France BNPAFRPPXXX (BNPAFRPP)
20 Bank of Nova Scotia Canada NOSCCATTXXX (NOSCCATT)
21 Westpac Australia WPACAU2SXXX (WPACAU2S)
22 Itau Unibanco Holding Brazil ITAUBRSPXXX (ITAUBRSP)
23 PNC Financial Services Group USA PNCCUS33XXX (PNCCUS33)
24 Bank of Communications China COMMCNSHXXX (COMMCNSH)
25 Lloyds Banking Group UK LOYDGB2LXXX (LOYDGB2L)
26 Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Japan SMBCJPJTXXX (SMBCJPJT)
27 UBS AG Switzerland UBSWCHZHXXX (UBSWCHZH)
28 ANZ Banking Group Australia ANZBAU3MXXX (ANZBAU3M)
29 ING Group Netherlands INGBNL2AXXX (INGBNL2A)
30 Bank of New York Mellon USA IRVTUS3NXXX (IRVTUS3N)
31 National Australia Bank Australia NATAAU33XXX (NATAAU33)
32 Intesa Sanpaolo Italy BCITITMMXXX (BCITITMM)
33 Banco Bradesco Brazil BBDEBRSPXXX (BBDEBRSP)
34 Bank of Montreal Canada BOFMCAT2XXX (BOFMCAT2)
35 Capital One USA HIBKUSH1XXX (HIBKUSH1)
36 Barclays UK BARCGB22XXX (BARCGB22)
37 BBVA Spain BBVAESMMXXX (BBVAESMM)
38 Mizuho Financial Group Japan MHCBJPJTXXX (MHCBJPJT)
39 Royal Bank of Scotland Group UK RBOSGB2LXXX (RBOSGB2L)
40 China CITIC Bank China ITRCCNB1XXX (ITRCCNB1)
41 China Minsheng Banking Corp China MSBCCNBJXXX (MSBCCNBJ)
42 Credit Suisse Group Switzerland CRESCHZFXXX (CRESCHZF)
43 Nordea Bank Sweden NDEASESSXXX (NDEASESS)
44 Credit Agricole France AGRIFRPPXXX (AGRIFRPP)
45 UniCredit Italy UNCRITMMXXX (UNCRITMM)
46 CIBC Canada CIBCCATTXXX (CIBCCATT)
47 Societe Generale France SOGEFRPPXXX (SOGEFRPP)
48 Standard Chartered UK SCBLGB2LXXX (SCBLGB2L)
49 KBC Group Belgium KREDBEBBXXX (KREDBEBB)
50 Deutsche Bank Germany DEUTDEFFXXX (DEUTDEFF)
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