The downside of international transfers with your bank

When you send or receive money using your bank, you might lose out on a bad exchange rate and pay hidden fees as a result. That's because the banks still use an old system to exchange money. We recommend you use Wise (formerly TransferWise), which is usually much cheaper. With their smart technology:

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SWIFT Codes - FAQs

What is a SWIFT code?

SWIFT is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. A SWIFT code is a Business Identifier Code (BIC) used by banks and payment providers when making international transfers.

When someone talks about SWIFT/BIC codes, also known as SWIFT numbers, they mean the 8 or 11 digit numbers which are used to identify different banking organisations and branches when making international payments. You'll need a SWIFT code if you want to send money to someone overseas through the SWIFT network.

What is BIC?

BIC stands for Business Identifier Code. These codes are standardized reference numbers assigned by SWIFT, to banks and a range of other financial and non-financial institutions.

If you're sending or receiving an international payment you may be asked for a BIC code. This is the 8 or 11 digit set of numbers which shows which bank holds the account you're sending to. BIC codes may also be referred to as SWIFT/BIC codes, or just SWIFT codes.

What is the difference between SWIFT and BIC codes?

SWIFT is the issuing organisation which controls the use of BIC codes. However, the terms SWIFT codes and BIC codes - and even SWIFT/BIC codes - are used interchangeably.

How do I find my SWIFT code?

If you need to find your own SWIFT/BIC code to give to someone sending you money, you can use the bank SWIFT code finder above. Alternatively, if you need to check the SWIFT number you have for a friend is correct, you can use the SWIFT checker tool.

You can also find your SWIFT number by logging into online banking, calling into your local branch, or checking correspondence with your bank. The details you need are often shown on statements and customer information letters.

How can I check a SWIFT code?

If you're sending an international payment, you want to make sure the SWIFT code you have is correct. Errors can result in delays, cause your payment to be returned - or even mean it's sent to the wrong account.

Check the SWIFT code you have with the recipient, using a Google search for the bank/branch code, or with this handy SWIFT checker tool.

Do I need an IBAN or a SWIFT code?

Depending on where your international payment is going, you might be asked for an IBAN, a SWIFT code, or both. IBAN stands for International Bank Account Number. If you need an IBAN for your transaction, use an online IBAN Calculator or IBAN Validator to generate and check your code.

IBANs operate in a similar way to SWIFT codes, but aren't used globally. IBANs are commonly requested for payments to Europe and the Middle East for example, but aren't used in North America or Australia. Check the requirements for the country you're sending to, to make sure you have all the information you need to process your payment securely.

Planning on sending money abroad? Compare international money transfer providers

Finding the best way to transfer money abroad can be a minefield because each money transfer provider has different fees and exchange rates. Our partner sites, and compile offers and show you the best prices available, so you can choose the best option for your money transfer needs.

The registrations of SWIFT codes are handled by Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) and their headquarters is located in La Hulpe, Belgium. SWIFT is the registered trademark of S.W.I.F.T. SCRL with a registered address at Avenue Adèle 1, B-1310 La Hulpe, Belgium.