A SWIFT Code is a standard format of Bank Identifier Code (BIC) used to specify a particular bank or branch. These codes are used when transferring money between banks, particularly for international wire transfers. Banks also use these codes for exchanging messages between them.
SWIFT codes comprise of 8 or 11 characters. All 11 digit codes refer to specific branches, while 8 digit codes (or those ending in 'XXX') refer to the head or primary office. SWIFT codes are formatted as follows:
First 4 characters - bank code (only letters)
Next 2 characters - ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code (only letters)
Next 2 characters - location code, passive participant will have "1" in the second character (letters and digits)
Last 3 characters - branch code, optional - 'XXX' for primary office (letters and digits)
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:
You get a great exchange rate and a low, upfront fee every time.
You move your money as fast as the banks, and often faster – some currencies go through in minutes.
Your money is protected with bank-level security.
You join over 2 million customers who transfer in 47 currencies across 70 countries.
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.