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 United Kingdom.

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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 United Kingdom, 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?

You will almost always need a SWIFT/BIC code to send money instantly or to a bank account across international lines. Some countries that require a SWIFT/BIC code include:

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.

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. Check the bank transfer details to see if your destination country requires a SWIFT/BIC.

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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