SWIFT/BIC codes

Sending or receiving a money transfer using your bank account? You’ll need a SWIFT/BIC code for many international bank transfers to and from Germany.

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What is a SWIFT/BIC code?

A SWIFT code, also called a SWIFT number, is used to identify banks and financial institutions worldwide. The term Business Identifier Code (BIC) is used interchangeably with SWIFT code and means the same thing. These codes facilitate money transfers between banks and are needed for international transfers and SEPA payments. To make an international money transfer from Germany, you may need a SWIFT/BIC code.

How is a SWIFT/BIC code formatted?

A SWIFT/BIC code consists of 8-11 characters and follows a format that identifies your bank, country, location, and branch.

Swift code example

1 – Bank code (4 letters)
The first four letters represent the bank and usually look like an abbreviated version of the bank name.

2 – Country code (2 letters)
These two letters indicate the country where the bank is located.

3 – Location code (2 letters or numbers)
These two characters designate the location of the bank’s main office.

4 – Branch code (3 digits)
These 3 digits identify a specific branch. ‘XXX’ is used for a bank’s head office.

How do I know if I need a SWIFT/BIC code?

Different countries require various codes to conduct money transfers. When you transfer money to a bank account across international lines, you’ll almost always need a SWIFT/BIC code. Countries that may require a SWIFT/BIC code to send money include:

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Frequently asked questions about SWIFT/BIC codes

What is a SWIFT code?

A SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) code is an 8-11 character long, standard format code that identifies banks and financial institutions worldwide. Also called a SWIFT number, this code facilitates the transfer of money between banks and is needed for both international transfers and SEPA payments.

What is a BIC code?

BIC stands for Bank Identifier Code. It is an 8 to 11-character code that identifies banks globally. BIC codes are used to send money between banks to ensure money is directed to the right place.

What’s the difference between SWIFT and BIC codes?

SWIFT and BIC codes mean the same thing and the terms are used interchangeably. Both SWIFT and BIC codes identify banks and financial institutions and are used for money transfers.

Are SWIFT codes and an IBAN the same thing?

SWIFT codes and an IBAN are not the same thing but serve a similar purpose. Both SWIFT codes and IBAN’s are used during international transactions, however, a SWIFT code identifies the location of a specific bank while an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) identifies the individual account.

Do you need a SWIFT code for international money transfers?

Maybe. Most international money transfers require a SWIFT code. This code helps ensure your money transfer arrives at the intended location.

How are SEPA and SWIFT/BIC codes connected?

SEPA (Single Europe Payments Area) allows you to transfer euros within the European community. You will usually be prompted to provide a SWIFT code when you send or receive money internationally with SEPA. While SWIFT transfers can be placed using various currencies, SEPA payments only transfer euros.

Is a SWIFT code the same for all branches?

This varies by bank. Some banks use the same SWIFT code for all their branches while other banks designate a unique SWIFT code for each branch. If you are unsure of which code to use, you can typically use the bank’s head office SWIFT code to send money.

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