Our easy guide to SWIFT codes and BIC

Sending or receiving money with your bank account? You’ll need a SWIFT code or BIC for international bank transfers to and from New Zealand.

swift-code

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 BIC (Business Identifier Code) is used interchangeably with SWIFT code and means the same thing. These codes facilitate money transfers between banks and are needed for international wires and SEPA payments. To make a money transfer from New Zealand internationally, you’ll need a SWIFT code or BIC.

How is a SWIFT/BIC code formatted?

A SWIFT code or BIC 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.

Where can I find a SWIFT code or BIC?

You can find a SWIFT code or BIC by looking at your bank statement, referring to your bank’s website, or by searching for it online.

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

Different countries require various codes to conduct money transfers. When you transfer money between banks, to a bank account across international lines, or for SEPA payments, you’ll almost always need a SWIFT/BIC code. Western Union makes sending money easy. Find the bank transfer details you need to send money instantly.

Frequently asked questions about SWIFT/BIC

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 wires 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.

Are SWIFT codes and BSB codes the same thing?

Both SWIFT codes and Bank State Branch (BSB) codes are bank identifiers for money transfers, but SWIFT/BIC codes are used for domestic and international money transfers while BSB codes are only used for domestic money transfers within Australia. Although New Zealand does not use BSB codes, to transfer money to a bank account in Australia, you will need the BSB number of the Australian account.

Do you need a SWIFT code for international money transfers?

Yes, you will need a SWIFT code to make an international money transfer. 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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1 Please use care when providing bank account information. Funds will be paid into the bank account corresponding to account number you provide. The receiver’s account must be a local currency payout account. If you’re sending to a company or an institution, please provide the business’ name, bank account number, bank name, and bank routing number (SwiBIC).